Diets do work.
This is confusing, isn't it? So are diets. Well, dieting is confusing. Wait, what?
Let's back up a little.
the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats - Google
restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight - Google
Now that we're talking about the same thing when we use these words, let's resume.
Why Dieting Doesn't Work
We generally look at dieting as "what can I remove from what I eat now to get me a quick fix", usually lowering the number on the scale. But, that's the wrong approach. Here's why:
1. Dieting is by definition temporary. If you quit dieting, you give up the result. The result is temporary.
2. What dieting does to the body is not as temporary. Generally restricting caused by dieting causes crashes in metabolism, which won't rebound as quickly.
3. Most plans are too restrictive and they don't teach good habits to replace the old ones. If a large portion of someone's diet is rice and they start a dieting and cut out rice, then what? Hell, they don't even know if rice was the problem - it probably wasn't.
What To Do Instead
First, What Problem Are You Trying To Solve?
Did a friend or coworker lose some fat or get in shape and you want to look better?
Is a recent diagnosis waking you up to some bad habits you've picked up over the years?
It really doesn't matter what the problem is you're looking to fix. But, there must be a reason. And it must speak to you intimately.
Many years ago, I had been fat for about a decade. I thought there was no way I could attract someone to spend my life with. Maybe I was right, maybe not. I thought I needed to change, that's all it took. I was sure in my mind, so it needed to happen. I dieted and exercised to weight loss and more confidence.
Find your reason to improve. If you don't have that, success will be fleeting or won't come at all.
Take A Holistic Approach
If permanent change is what you're after, then an intentional, systemic approach is what works. Observe your regular habits in the areas of diet, exercise, sleep, stress, fasting, purpose.
Start with some low hanging fruit, and try a few things. See what speaks to you.
Default to taking the stairs or parking farther away from your destination. Replace ice cream with fruit or dark chocolate. Start eating at 10am instead of 8. Take a little longer walks with your dog. Start a project at work (or on your own) that speaks to your view of the world.
I've tried a bunch of different methods of eating well, exercising, enjoying life, sleeping, and more. Most of them I don't practice regularly.
I did meditation for a few months. Wasn't for me. I'd rather take a long walk with my dog first thing in the morning.
I've tried exercise classes. Some stuck, some didn't. Ultimately, time freedom is more important to me than peer pressure to show up or do one more rep.