Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with many people who want to lose weight, build muscle or following a specific diet for health reasons. While some people appear to make changes seemingly easily, the truth is many people struggle to stick to a diet – if that sounds familiar read on..
Whatever diet you are following – low carb, keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, if you don’t have a clear reason for following a certain programme your efforts are likely to fail. Before you know it four weeks have gone by and you haven’t accomplished very much. Willpower or that initial motivation you had when you started will not get you through tough days if you have no goal or structure.
If you’re serious about following a new diet you first of all need the following:
- A REASON for doing so.
- An easy to follow plan you can follow
- Structure in your day to make it happen
- Accountability or feedback to monitor and reassess your goal
WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
Having your WHY is fundamental for serious changes that last. Forget vague statements such as to ‘lose weight’ or to ‘feel healthier’. Be specific – this could be ‘I want to lose 10lbs and get into my wedding dress’. Then ask yourself WHY this is important and what achieving this goal will do for you – will it build confidence? Will it help you feel more energised mentally and physically? Take time to write down your reasons.
Always be imagining yourself in 4 or 6 months time and how reaching your targets will make you feel. This is so important as you will likely face obstacles. For example you may find certain people (often close friends and family) will try and wreck your efforts, undermine your eating plan and try to pull you off track. Having clear WHYs will help keep you focused.
WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?
It is actually easy to make a plan – sticking to it is the hard part. For example if you have decided to cut out unhealthy snacks or alcohol you need to be clear how you will achieve it. Are there certain social situations you need a strategy for? Are you going to stop filling the house with junk food? What are you going to choose instead?
If you are serious about weight loss, having a plan is essential. Guessing from day to day your calorie intake or macros will lead to failure. If you want to get results you will need to cut back on the calories and monitor your macros to ensure you’re hitting the right targets. I have spoken previously about losing fat and building muscle as well as the importance of protein on previous blogs. A plan will mean making changing what you choose for breakfast and meals through the day. This may mean taking packed lunches with you or healthy snacks to avoid temptation.
BUILD A ROUTINE
Losing weight or changing your diet is not particularly exciting. There is no MAGIC pill or diet. One of the key things you will have to do is plan, prepare and cook your meals through the week. This may feel tedious but it is an essential part of any effective weight loss programme. Knowing exactly what you are eating day to day will also help tackle any cravings or resist temptation. Initially it may take a little effort but after a week or so you will develop new habits and routines that will make this so much easier.
To fit in planning and preparation will require rethinking your current daily routine. For me I like to spend the weekend cooking and preparing for the week ahead. If you tend to rush breakfast you may need to get up earlier each day to carve out some extra time. Whatever you decide to do make it easy to stick to. Forget complicated recipes with endless ingredients. Keep it simple and start small. For example start by preparing a few different meals and eat them repetitively through the week. This may mean choosing one breakfast option to start with, packing similar lunches each day and carrying a protein shake with you to counter afternoon cravings. Whatever dishes you decide on you will need to set aside time to cook rather than resorting to take aways or meals out.
AVOID FADDY EATING
Diets come and go – forget the magazine adverts promising a whole new body in a week. The key is to focus on whole unprocessed foods. Simple and natural foods, without endless ingredients on the label should major in our diet. Make sure you get plenty of protein and fibre to keep you energised and feeling fuller for longer – this style of eating is not only healthy but more sustainable in the long term. There is no perfect diet – we are all different. The key is to be consistent. Slip ups are likely to happen – just don’t beat yourself up and get back on track straight away. Remember focus on the long term – not quick fixes.
DON’T RELY ON WILL POWER
There will be days you feel rubbish. There will be days you don’t want to hit the gym. To get yourself through tough times you need to build in a few habits that you can stick to. Over time they will feel a normal part of your daily routine. Motivation can be fleeting and ever changing. Some days you will feel unstoppable, other days all you’ll want to do is eat cake. Don’t focus on how you feel on any given day – look at your overall goal. By building in great habits your motivation will follow as you start to see positive results. Track your progress and celebrate it.
Don’t wait for motivation, take action today.