Since I’ve had a child and gotten married, I’ve gained some weight. I’m not going to say exactly how much, but we’ll just say that for the first time in my life, I’m not comfortable with the scale. Previously, up five pounds or down ten, I never really worried about it. Even immediately after my pregnancy, I was happy. Then, through the hurried nights of single motherhood, into the marital bliss that encourages lazy afternoons and lots of home cooking, I packed on more pounds than I ever had before. I’m not unhealthy, but I’m not really happy either.

Even if I finally feel the need to lose weight, I refuse to diet. A friend of mine tried to drag me to her Weight Watcher’s meeting and I cried in the parking lot before she finally let me run away. I don’t just dislike diets, I despise them. To me, diets represent all the things that are terrible about weight issues. Diets make people obsess over every bite they take. They make you deny yourself over and over again. They make me generally unhappy and deprived. Diets make healthy living a chore and a burden. They don’t concentrate on any of the great things about being healthy.

By healthy, I do not mean eating salads for every meal and running on a treadmill every morning. I understand that healthy living can be different for every person. To me, healthy living means incorporating lots of fresh produce into my snacks and meals. It means avoiding food that I don’t cook myself. And most importantly, it means getting active in any way I enjoy. Taking my dogs on longer walks, hiking through a state park with my daughter, kayaking with my husband, these are ways that I enjoy getting active. To me, this is healthy living. And I don’t need any diet plan to make these choices.

Diets are all about restrictions. They are short-term solutions to lifelong issues. If you feel deprived long enough, you’re sure to cave. If you every food is only a calorie count, it all loses its appeal.

I’ve watched many friends and family members succeed with dieting. I’ve watched some of them hate every second. But I’ve watched others work hard to shed unwanted pounds and come away happy, healthy and positive. For anyone who can do that, I’m thrilled! I’m not claiming that every person who diets shares my issues with them. Some people see diets as a legitimate way to lose weight quickly and then transition into a lifestyle that will maintain their desired weight. Yay for those people!

But for me, weight loss will never be that simple. It will never be quick. It will be one day at a time, making healthier choices. Some days I’ll succeed. And some days I’ll eat a second slice of birthday cake or have a third margarita with my friends. Those days won’t be my healthiest days, but I refuse to feel guilty about them. Personally, diets inspire a whole lot of guilt that I’m not prepared to accept.