In my experience, people don’t have trouble going on a diet – they have trouble sticking to it. It’s just too easy to get side-tracked and tempted. On top of just normal temptations, as soon as we begin a diet, we start obsessing over food. We are constantly thinking of what we can and cannot eat, what we should eat and what we want to eat. I even see people doing cardio watching the food network. Does that really make any sense at all?
I believe people don’t set enough boundaries – not just with food, but with their thoughts. We trust ourselves just a little too much. We put ourselves in stupid compromising situations and then wonder why we fail.
Personally, I think we think about food way too much. We “allow” our thoughts to explore territory our mouths should never go while dieting. Instead of thinking about our training and new fit bodies, we are dreaming and scheming up ways to create some “healthy” dish we can try to squeeze in our plan so we don’t feel so deprived – but are we really deprived? When was delicious grilled chicken and asparagus an example of being deprived? When was having abs and feeling great not worth going without pizza? Do you really want to taste pizza more than wear some kick-butt jeans without a muffin top? Let’s put things in to perspective so you can begin succeeding!
Before you explore these tips, first decide whether you are in maintenance or weight loss mode. If you are maintenance, you can be a little less strict – or you can follow these rules during the week, but enjoy a little more freedom on the weekend. If you are in diet mode, then these 7 tips should help you stay on the fast track to success.
7 Practical Diet Tips to Help You Stay On Track
1. Stick to a routine. Eating the same foods, like the same one or two breakfasts every day, helps keep dieting simple. The less you have to think about what I should eat, the easier it is to eat healthy. The more variety you have, the more excited your tastebuds will get – and they may want more. If you eat oatmeal every day, I doubt you’ll want to overeat or go back for seconds.
2. Avoid restaurant menus. Should an alcoholic spend time looking through the drink menu? Should they walk the isles of ABC liquor? Of course not! So why should a dieter spend time shopping a menu with pictures of food they shouldn’t eat. All it does is open the windows of our hungry mind. If you must eat out, either make your decision before you even show up to the restaurant, or have someone else help you order if you are tempted to go off plan.
3. Make rules and stick with them. In our house, dinners are always one meat and one green veggie. Period. Since we don’t need carbs to sleep, we save carbs (like a sweet potato) for lunch. Setting rules helps us stay on track. No rules, no boundaries, no success.
4. Prepare your food when you aren’t hungry. We cook a good bulk of our food on Sundays AFTER we eat lunch. When meals are made in advance, all we have to do is heat them up when you get hungry. If you wait to cook when you are hungry, you are more likely to focus on what you want to taste rather than what you need to eat – and you may whip up something higher in calories because you are thinking with your stomach, and not your new fit brain.
5. Rely primarily on whole foods. I love making turkey meatloaf and yummy meals, but Steve can’t control himself around them. So, 75% of our meals are whole foods, and only 25% are multi-ingredient dishes. This gives us just enough variety without sabotaging our diet.
6. Be patient when cooking. Rely on seasoning and slow cooking (like a crock pot or roaster) to boost flavor instead of sauces and added ingredients. Many times we add more calories than necessary simply because we cook too fast and don’t allow seasonings to be absorbed in the food.
7. Know what you can and cannot handle. No matter how motivated someone is in the morning, that motivation can be forgotten by the time you are standing in the pantry staring at the nuts at night. If you can’t handle having certain snacks or foods in the house, don’t let them past your front door. Sometimes it’s best to go without than to try to practice self-control (and fail over and over).
Remember, the only way you will be successful is to be honest with yourself. Some people are super disciplined and some people aren’t. Be honest with yourself and set goals accordingly.
Results Taste Better
Whatever your goal is, whether it’s to lose a few pounds or compete (like this chick below), spend more time thinking about your training, and less time thinking about food. If you want abs more than you want ice cream, then put a set of abs on the freezer door to remind you what you want long term. Because, honestly, 10 minutes of pleasure isn’t worth ruining a reward you can enjoy all day every day – because I’m pretty sure this chick is not the least bit upset about the foods she missed out on while she stands fit and proud on stage.
Have you ever wondered why your best buddy loved the Adkins diet, but you hated it. Or maybe a friend lost lost 20lbs on weight watchers but the scale didn’t budge for you? Well, here’s my very unscientific, but completely logical, approach to why certain diets work for some people, and they bomb for others.
Here are 5 popular diet methods, and why each of them can produce results or regret.
1. Meat Lovers: Paleo and Adkins diets are high-protein meat lover diets, so people who love meat do well. People, like me, who could go without it and not miss it struggle. Steve loves meat – I mean LOVES IT! So, he’s thoroughly enjoying the Paleo Diet. It’s harder for me, so I am beefing up my veggies so I can enjoy my meals, where Steve is totally fine putting a big clump of meat on his plate and calling it a “meal”. I have to be more creative with my meals to stay content.
2. Sugar Busters: This diet works well for people who have an issue with sweets. If I cut sweets out of my diet, I wouldn’t make a lot of changes. I just don’t crave sweets. So, if I went on this diet I would not lose that much weight because I wouldn’t be cutting that many calories out of my diet. All mainstream diets, no matter what “gimmick” or set of guidelines is given, works because it is based on a set number of calories by industry standards. Reduce sugar, reduce calories.
3. Carb Cutters: Low carb, or no-carb, diets get huge results for the people who love their bread and potatoes. If I completely cut carbs out of my diet, I’d drop weight too because I love me some carbs (lots of carbs means lots of calories). However, not everyone likes carbs like I do. So different strokes for different folks.
4. Weight Watchers: Someone can even goof up weight watchers if they aren’t careful. I’ve known people to overeat items that are low in points (or have “zero points”) and they don’t understand why they don’t get results. If you are an overeater, this diet may not work for you because you will find some way to cheat the system. However, if you are unhealthy eater, weight watchers is a great way to get your food in balance and learn how to eat better, which will naturally reduce your caloric intake.
5. Calorie Counters: Counting calories works – unless you are lazy, unorganized, forgetful or don’t have the tools you need to track calories properly. So, someone can even mess this up too. They may say “counting calories doesn’t’ work for me”. What they most likely mean is “I know counting calories works, but I don’t want to do it”.
If you are trying to lose weight and you’ve tried various diets that have failed, don’t give up. Think of the reasons you loved them, and the reasons you hated them. Learn more about yourself and the reason each diet works for others. Try new things and reattempt things you might have gone about all wrong in the past. You must continue to explore new and improved ways to eat and live healthy. You WILL succeed as long as you never give up.
“Do you skip your bath because it takes time away from your family over the holidays? Of course not! There are some priorities that should always stay in place no matter what – and fitness is one of them.”
We like to make excuses around this time of year. “I’m too busy”. “I don’t know how to count Thanksgiving meal calories.” “The gym is closed.” “I’m tired.” “We’ll be out of town.” “I need to spend time with family.” “I can’t control myself around all that food”. “I deserve a break”… The list goes on.
Let me tell you, it is ridiculous that we even think any of those excuses will get you out of a workout free and clear. For every excuse someone has, someone out there is working out despite having the same excuses. In addition, there are reasons why even a good excuse is a bad reason to skip your workout.
8 Holiday Excuses Busters:
1. “I’m too busy” – You have time to watch TV, get on facebook, read my blog, sleep late, stay up late, etc. “Too busy” often means, not having as much free time to live life how you prefer. Busy means you need to schedule your day better. It means you can’t just play it by ear and hope you have enough time left over to do extra stuff. When you are busy, it means you need to do what matters most first and get it out of the way. When you don’t HAVE time, you have to MAKE time.
2. “I don’t know how to count Thanksgiving meal calories.” – You should at least try. Use your noggin. Guess the ingredients of the meal. Using the LoseIt app, look up similar dishes served at restaurants, etc., but don’t just not even try. Make it fun. See if people can guess and look it up, like a trivia game. You’ll learn a lot along the way, make better choices and entertain your family with interesting facts.
3. “The gym is closed.” Most gyms are closed on Thanksgiving Day – Big Whoop! You don’t need a gym to sweat. Try one of our Designer Whey workouts online. Any of the training plans from Design Your Body (weight loss and body sculpting program), Basic Training (beginner program), Savage Training (advanced workout), or any of the single workout regimens, are perfect for working out at home or in a hotel. And, of course there is always the road! Take a walk, go for a run. Just commit to 15-30 minutes. You’ll feel a MILLION times better if you do SOMEthing rather than nothing. Here’s a quick 5 minute workout from DesignerWhey you can do anywhere. Repeat 3-5 times.
4. “I’m SO tired.” – Even MORE of a reason to workout. Exercise is exhilarating. It revs the metabolism and boosts energy. And, if you have been light on sleep, it helps you sleep better. So scratch that excuse off your list.
5. “We’ll be out of town.” – People train on the road all the time. The first step is planning. Pack your gym clothes, Reeboks & yurbuds. With apps like RunKeeper, you no longer need to have to map out a course ahead of time. You can step out of your grandma’s driveway and start running, and the RunKeeper will tell you how far you have gone so you know exactly how long to run. Also, most hotels have gyms, and if they don’t, you can use one of the above programs to guide you through a workout in your hotel room. No weights? Improvise! 1 gallon of water is 8.33lbs. Use a set of jugs for dumbbells to do some of the exercises shown below in this video. Bodyweight exercises are awesome and equally effective – especially when done fast with little rest.
6. “I need to spend time with family” – I totally get it. Family should ALWAYS be first. But I think this picture is a pretty typical description of what most “quality family time” looks like. We go to grandma’s and everyone gathers in the kitchen to eat or the living room to sit in front of the TV. You could set the active pace. You could make an impact on your family be setting an example. Play catch outside, go for a walk, play Wii with the kids. Even if you have to leave and go for a run, I think they’ll forgive you for taking care of your health. Do you skip your bath because it takes time away from your family? No! Of course not! There are some priorities that should always stay in place no matter what. Standard grooming habits, your physical health, and your spiritual health need to remain constant. If you do them first and get them out of the way, you will find you have AMPLE time with your family and you’ll have more energy and a better attitude too!
7. I can’t control myself” – Really? You CAN’T control yourself, or you WON’T? Saying you can’t control yourself before you even face the Thanksgiving table is telling yourself in advance that you will fail. That is ridiculous. It’s this simple. You either WANT to get fit and be thin, or you WANT to taste food more. You need to gain control of your body and not let your tongue boss you around. Saying no is empowering. You absolutely can control yourself around food. One, don’t go to the dinner table hungry. Eat something before you surround yourself with tempting food. Two, don’t even negotiate it. Don’t waste time contemplating whether you should have something or not. Keep your rules black and white, no grey. If it’s going to interfere with your goal, skip it. If you aren’t willing to burn it off, skip it. You have more control than you think.
8. “I deserve a break” – If you are happy with where your weight is, that is fine. Take a break and enjoy the family – especially if you are consistent in your workouts and rarely take a day off. BUT, if you are unhappy with your weight, if you are sporadic with your workouts, or find it hard to stick with a program, then you don’t need a break. A break can actually mess you up in a bad way. Not only do you consume a LOT more calories during this time of year, you won’t be burning as many calories by taking a break – a double whammy! AND, getting out of a routine can set you up for a downward spiral of laziness and lack of motivation. When you workout, you become more protective over what you eat, so you’re likely to make better decisions even if you still cheat. Also, working out mentally keeps you “in the game”. Don’t lose momentum by giving in to taking a day off just because a friend can afford to. You have to do what YOU need to do to stick with your program and keep moving toward your goal. Even if it’s strictly for damage control, don’t let a pity-party convince you to be lazy.
If you skip your workout, will it kill ya? NO! But will it affect you? YES. Sometimes just mentally. In reality, the extra calories with the lack of calories burned can set you back a whole week. Ironically, just 30 minutes is enough to make a big difference. If you can’t do your normal routine during the holidays, do SOMEthing. Keep your eye on the prize! You’ll feel great and be THANKFUL you did!