“OK, the new diet starts tomorrow.”
I know I’ve said that countless times when reaching back into the fridge or cookie jar. Most people have, I think. We diet hard and eat strict for a while. And we make some progress, just before falling off the wagon and kick starting the cycle all over again.
The key to lasting change and progress is actually breaking this cycle. In the end, the best thing you can do is find a strategy that actually works for you.
Here are five great tips to get you started.
1. Choose a plan that fits your lifestyle
There is a negative stigma associated with the word “diet.” That’s because most people choose a diet that doesn’t fit very well into their lifestyle and they get terrible results.
When you say “I am going on a diet,” it implies that at some point or another you will be getting “off the diet.” But to make a lasting change it’s critical to choose a plan that actually fits your needs.
Some people enjoy routine. Others need more freedom and variety in everything they do. If you choose a diet that requires a lot of food prep, but you hate to cook, then it is very likely that you will fail. Likewise, if your diet is very restrictive and you get bored easily, you may end up frustrated and unable to fully enjoy your social life.
Rather than jumping on the latest fad diet, try making small lifestyle changes. Here are a few examples that have proven to be successful:
- If you are inconsistent, use something to track the food you are eating, as well as your body weight. My Fitness Pal is the tool I prefer.
- If you hate to cook, find quick and easy recipes or local restaurants/stores with friendly options.
- If you need accountability, find a group of supportive, successful people. At the very least, reach out to someone you respect and trust, then ask them for help.
2. Have realistic expectations
You decided to make a change, and that’s great! But if you’re expecting perfection then you’re setting yourself up for failure. What’s worse, you’ll be more likely to abandon your plan all together at the very first sight of a cheat meal.
Rather than being hard on yourself, take pride in the fact that you are trying and making progress. Recognize your mistakes and their cause, learn from them, and then take the time to allow these new habits to set in.
Your transformation will take time, and that’s ok. Depending on your body composition, gender, age, and activity level, a safe rate of weight loss is about 1-2 lbs. per week.
So, keep that in mind as you set your goals and consider how long your journey will take.
3. Don’t eat for reasons other than hunger
Every one of us is guilty of walking over to the fridge after a meal, opening it up and then searching for something else to eat. We do this over and over, even though we already know what’s in there, as if something will magically appear. Why do we do this? Are we actually still hungry, or maybe it’s that we’re just bored or stressed? When you take the time to eat, try allowing yourself to feel full. Take a seat and try to focus on the fact that you are eating. Not only does the body need to know it is becoming full, but the mind needs this as well. Take a seat, put away the phone, computer, TV, and all other distractions to sit and enjoy your meal. Try to identify when something other than hunger is making you want to eat. The more you look for these behavior triggers, the easier it will be to switch to a more productive and goal oriented task or activity. For example, you’ll be able to go for a walk, read a book, or watch a movie instead. Anything to keep yourself out of the kitchen will do.
4. Eat high volume
One of the most common mistakes I see when people decide to begin a weight loss journey is choosing foods that leave them hungry and unsatisfied, thus making them more likely to over-indulge. Take a moment and think about the food choices you are making. For example, a protein bar seems like a good choice, right? However, for the same amount of calories, fat, carbs, and protein you could be eating an entire meal! That’s why many bars are called “meal replacements.” Many have more calories than you would think. Below is a photo of some scrambled egg beaters, fruit salad, and avocado. All this weighs about 450g, compared to a quest bar that is only 60g in weight.
#transformationtuesday I transformed the 8g of fat, 23g of carbs, and 20g of protein from the S’mores Quest Bar into a large egg, avocado and fruit breakfast! Clients often complain about hunger but fill their macros with protein bars and supplements! A big meal with real food will keep you fuller for longer. The quest bar weighs 60g and this breakfast is almost 400g of food! Quest bars are delicious but you’ll have to sacrifice some volume for that tasty treat. A photo posted by adeezukier (@adeezukier) on
This second photo shows 600g of cherry tomatoes compared to a 22g of sour candy. They both have the same amount of calories and about 23g of carbohydrates. But, which do you think will help keep you fuller for longer?
The answer is obvious.
Hunger is a terrible feeling. So, load up on foods that are not as dense in calories or macros.
Some great examples are:
- Vegetables: peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, celery, onions, zucchini, egg plant.
- Fruit: berries, cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon, mango.
- Lean meat: sirloin tip, lean ground beef, turkey, chicken, bison.
5) Mark progress in as many ways as possible
Every diet, like every training program, has a natural ebb and flow. One week you make a tremendous amount of progress, then the next you feel like you’ve regressed. So, set yourself up for success and try to motivate yourself in as many ways as possible!
Do you love hitting a PR in the gym? Well, you can certainly “PR” in your weight loss journey as well. Here are some changes to note:
- Body Weight – Weigh yourself in the morning after your trip to the toilet, on the same scale, naked. Try to avoid frustration over daily fluctuations in weight – those are normal. Instead use the weekly average and compare it to the past weeks weekly average.
- Body Composition – Take photos of your body every week. Take one from the front, side, and back wearing no top and boxers for the men, sports bra and shorts or underwear for the ladies. It is really difficult to see changes daily, but compare week 1 to 12 and you’ll be surprised at the differences. Optimally, you should use the same lighting and the same location but if you find yourself looking in the mirror and loving what you see, take a photo for reference
- Measurements – Take measurements in the same spots each week. Consistency is more important than accuracy in this scenario, so just make sure you measure the same spot each time. I would suggest waist, chest, and hips as a start.
- Mood and Energy and Consistency – Feeling better about your body? Are you performing better in the gym? Did you stick to your plan for the entire week? That’s all awesome information you should be tracking!
Give these simple tips a try. They work wonders for my nutrition clients, and they’ll certainly help you reach your body composition and performance goals.
For more information or to contact me, just visit my site Working Against Gravity. You can also leave a question in the comments below. I’d love to help out.
Eat well, and lift big!