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.
Here’s a million dollar question for you: Why is it SO hard to diet? Well, the answer is easy. We have issues! HaHa! Seriously, we have 6 common issues, or situations we find our self in on a regular basis, that we need to learn to face WITHOUT food.
Problem: One of the most common reasons people eat is out of pure boredom. This is most common in the evenings. It’s not like the world will come crashing down around us if we watch TV without a bowl of snacks, but for some reason we feel the need to feed as soon as our fat butts hit the couch. Think about this: 300 extra calories of junk a night is enough to ruin a 3-mile run – and if you aren’t working out, 300 extra calories a day for 365 days a year adds up to a whopping 30lbs of fat!
Solution: Snacking is just a bad habit. You have a learned behavior to entertain your tongue while you entertain your brain, and it probably started as a child. Fixing this bad habit is easy as saying your ABCs! A.) Go cold turkey, and teach yourself not to eat when you are bored. B.) Trade a bad habit with a good one, by learning how to eat lower calorie items instead. C.) Find something better to occupy your time, like going for a walk or going to bed early. People who stay up late watching TV have more time to be tempted. You may just be better off going to bed and getting your beauty rest.
Problem: In my opinion, laziness is one of the primary reasons we have a restaurant on every corner. Often times we don’t feel like cooking after a hard day’s work. So, we eat out because it’s easy. We like to be served – who doesn’t?! We don’t have to cook and we don’t have to clean up afterwards. Another reason people are tempted to eat out, or eat poorly, is because we make it too difficult to eat healthy. Our meals may be too complicated and time-consuming, and our snacks may not be realistic for our needs. So, we a grab quick fix or head to our favorite restaurant.
Solution: If you simplify your recipes, cooking won’t seem so overwhelming. But, if you know cooking a meal means spending 45 minutes in the kitchen, slaving over the stove, you will probably do anything to avoid it. Always keep some foods that are quick to cook, like frozen vegetable Steamers and defrosted meats. This will require changing your shopping habits. You can have the best intentions at the grocery store, but you also have to make realistic choices you can actually use in the kitchen.
Problem: We live in a world filled with instant gratification. We don’t like to wait for ANYthing, and this includes food. Being hungry makes us impatient. The hungrier we get, the more impatient we get – but patience wouldn’t be needed if we weren’t so hungry to begin with.
Solution: Hunger makes us stupid. Seriously, we do some of the dumbest things when we are hungry, so the solution to the problem is to avoid being that hungry to begin with. Keep healthy snacks, like a bag of almonds or a protein bar, nearby. So, when you get hungry, you can have a couple of bites of the bar to hold you off until you can eat something healthy. Better yet, snack periodically BEFORE you even start to get hungry to begin with. By the time lunch or dinner rolls around, you can make healthier choices – and think with your brain, instead of think with your stomach.
Problem: This is probably one of my own biggest personal stumbling blocks. I do GREAT – as long as I’m prepared. But, as soon as I eat up all my healthy groceries, and no longer have healthy choices on hand, my diet goes out the window.
Solution: Make grocery shopping and cooking a priority. Don’t let your kitchen run low on the things you need to eat healthy. It is impossible to eat healthy if you don’t shop healthy. Set 2 days a week you can cook in bulk so you always have prepared food in the refrigerator. Keep a good supply of Tupperware to make it easier to bring leftovers to work.
5. Emotional Satisfaction
Problem: We turn to food to satisfy our emotions. We eat when we have something to celebrate, and we eat when we have something to cry about. I don’t know why we turn to food to feed our emotions, but almost everyone does it.
Solution: We have to reprogram our brain. Some people have trained their body to want to go for a run when they are mad, or lift weights when they are stressed, but that didn’t just happen on its own. Those are trained behaviors, which you can also implement. At first, you’ll have to purposefully think of what the best response would be but, eventually, your body will catch on.
Problem: When you have money in your pocket, it’s hard not to spend it – and, if you have food in front of you, it’s hard not to eat it. Allowing yourself to be in a position where you are constantly exposed to food, is a great way to set yourself up for failure.
Solution: First, tell friends about your goals and request fewer outings centered on food. Second, Avoid going to events hungry so you aren’t as tempted to eat poorly. Third, drink a LOT of water. Keeping a glass in your hand, and your belly full of agua, can help you resist nibbling. Lastly, learn to say no. The key to saying no is to not even think about it first. As soon as you entertain the thought of tasting something you have said “maybe” – and maybe is the beginning to saying “yes”.
If you want to succeed this year, you have to figure out which of these above problems could be holding you back. As soon as you diagnosis your problems, you can begin to tackle them and develop the right solutions for you. With a little trial and error, you CAN learn to face your issues withOUT the need to feed!
Today’s Motivation: You have the power to change your future by what you do today. Food no longer has to boss you around. YOU are the boss! YOU are in control! And, YOU CAN SUCCEED – and that success can start today!
How can you expect to have a NEW body continuing your OLD ways?
As most of you know, I try to come up with motivational mantras, tips and photos to help keep my fitness followers on track. Yesterday, my post was not really that profound. It was simple but true: “Today could be a new beginning, but you can’t begin something without ending other things. If you want to start being healthy, you need to end some of your old bad habits. Say goodbye to skipping workouts and cheating on your diet – and say HELLO to a brand new fit you!”
My thought when writing this was that people don’t seem to have a problem starting new healthy habits. People start working out, eating healthier, etc but they do it IN ADDITION TO their bad habits – as if they can do enough right to erase their wrongs. But it really doesn’t work that way.
“Cheating comes from a type of ‘denial’. Saying to ourself: this won’t hurt, or this is only just a taste, or I haven’t eaten that much today, or I deserve this, or this is healthy.” – Julianne
Is cheating OK? That depends. It depends how you define cheating. For me, cheating means occasionally eating 200-500 calories more than I budgeted. If I cheat often, that’s not cheating. That’s a bad habit.
However, for others, cheating means going crazy and totally splurging, or cheating a little every day. People often sabotage progress by cheating on their diet too much, too often, or too soon – justifying every bite.
My mom had some really good input on what cheating meant to her just yesterday, saying, “Cheating comes from a type of ‘denial’. Saying to ourself: this won’t hurt, or this is only just a taste, or I haven’t eaten that much today, or I deserve this, or this is healthy. The definition of cheating is: Act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage. The only advantage is ‘taste & enjoy temporarily’….the disadvantage is ‘fat and miserable'” – and that’s not temporary at all.
Unfortunately for many, cheating does hurt because most people don’t cheat responsibly. If you compare eating to spending money, maybe you can have a better grasp on what is really going on. Weight management is a numbers game, but most people don’t track their calories on their cheat days, or meals, like they’d balance their checkbook after shopping. The “out of sight, out of mind” mindset is an attempt to dodge reality – but the reality is, it affects you whether you know the extent of the damage or not.
Keep your Cheating in Check with these Tips:
1. Budget around 250 calories a day for fun stuff, including coffee, protein bars, fruit, cheese, nuts, sweets or salty snacks. Dieting shouldn’t be miserable – and if it is, it won’t last. Give yourself a little leeway. This allows even the strictest dieters to still have around 1,000 calories a day in food (300-350 calories per meal), which is plenty (if you are eating quality food) to keep you satisfied.
2. Find a healthy replacement for an unhealthy eating habit. Many people struggle to resist snacking or drinking at night. For others, it may be a coke or coffee habit. At first it will be difficult to stop some of your favorite treats, but if you stick to your plan, you can get rid of your bad habit in a matter of a couple of weeks. Instead of quitting cold turkey, try finding a new healthy habit to replace the bad one. For instance, replace you nightly downfalls for a late night walk, sipping on hot tea, drinking as much water as possible (almost making it a game), sticking to low-calorie healthy snacks that fit your budget and long candlelight baths. Keep troubleshooting until you find what works for you.
2. Cheat with a purpose. Instead of just going wild and spontaneously cheating, plan your cheat meal. Count the calories ahead of time and decide exactly how many calories you plan to eat. If you research your cheat meal ahead of time, you are less likely to go overboard and more likely to stay more accountable.
3. Avoid big cheat days until you reach your goal. Cheating can severely slow progress. A person can literally wipe out an entire weeks’s worth of dieting and exercise with one “off day”. Instead, plan small occasional mini-cheats, totaling no more than 500 extra calories, that will keep you happy along your journey.
4. Don’t rely on exercise to erase bad decisions. Let me say it a little louder: DOOON’T RELYYY ON EXERCIIIISE TO ERAAASE YOUR BAAAAAD DECISIONSSSS!! Many people don’t control their eating as they should and use exercise to erase their diet sins. Not only does it rarely work, it also is not fixing the problem. If you want to control your weight, you have to control your tongue. Continuing your old ways are not an option if you are wanting a new body. Quit fooling yourself. You can’t have “I can have my cake and eat it too” mentality. Some people may be lucky enough to live this way, but the majority cannot.
5. You need to know if you are ON a diet or IN maintenance – because there is no “OFF”. If you struggle with your weight, it is likely you will always have to manage calories. Of course, when I talk about “diets”, I’m not necessarily speaking of a specific diet, I’m speaking of self-control. I’m talking about counting calories, purposeful healthy eating, and/or staying accountable for what you eat. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people do is go “ON” a diet and, after they reach their goal, they go completely “OFF”. ORRRR, they go ON a diet during the week, and OFF their diet on weekends. Ask your husband if he’d be OK with you cheating on him on the weekends – I bet it wouldn’t fly with him either. Like marriage and finances, you’ll have to have limitations if you want to be successful – whether on a diet or in maintenance.