It is no secret that diets are hard to stick to.
Whether it was a new years resolution that saw quick initial success but then a gradual decline in motivation and a few trips to the pub later has meant that you are back to square one.
Or a health detox retreat where you came back with glowing, radiant skin after consuming nothing but celery juice for a week that was easily overturned by ravenous hunger upon returning.
Most adults have tried some form of dieting yet we still have an obesity issue.
So why is it so hard to stick to something even when the right intentions are there?
Have you been banging your head against the wall when it comes to your weight management?
Building better habits is at the fundamental core of most of these questions at hand and the approach you take can lead to drastically different results.
This article will discuss all the things you need to consider before starting, how to get started and ultimately, making it the distance.
1) Ask yourself one simple yet complex question. Why?
Getting a clear and precise understanding of why you want to embark on a health and fitness journey will be your single, most valuable weapon in your arsenal to succeed.
- Are you getting married?
- Is your family history of diabetes creeping up on you?
- Or are you simply sick of the way you look after nearly a decade of letting yourself go?
Sometimes asking yourself why is enough and you can be on your way.
Most of the time, asking yourself the why behind the why is needed.
Let’s say you are trying to get ‘beach ready’ and want to get into the best shape of your life. That would be your first why.
Your second why could be because it would give you the confidence to take your shirt off in public or that looking better in a suit will help you excel at work.
The biggest mistake you can make is starting your journey without a clear understanding of how achieving your goals will impact your life.
The first few weeks of any diet is typically straight-forward and easy to stick to.
But what about weeks 7, 8 and 9? When your friends are having pizza and beer and you’re having a chicken stir fry?
Motivation levels will naturally ebb and flow throughout your journey and when you’re sacrificing your favourite things, you need to be crystal clear about what made you start in the first place.
However, establishing your why behind the why can take time.
Often, you will need to look deep within yourself to answer these questions.
Why is it now that you want to start, after 10, 20, maybe even 30 years of poor dieting, poor sleeping and leading a sedentary lifestyle?
What is it about your goals that you are ready to make lifestyle sacrifices for?
Once this is clear to you. Nothing will stop you from getting there.
If your goals are important enough to you and if they inspire you enough, then you will prevail.
2) Developing a sustainable plan of action.
There are so many different ways to lose weight. Intermittent fasting, keto diets, vegan diets, calorie counting, weight watchers.
The best plan for you is simply the one that you can follow best.
Sounds cliche, but it’s true.
There is absolutely no point in going keto if you enjoy carbs too much and detest things like avocado, butter and eggs.
Unless you have specific dietary requirements, opting for a calorie controlled balanced diet usually works best.
Contrary to popular belief, a weight loss diet shouldn’t just be about chicken breast and broccoli and necking raw eggs like Rocky Balboa.
Learning to apply the minimum effective dose is usually the smarter thing to do, especially if you have more to lose.
Whether your goal is time sensitive or not will usually dictate how aggressive you need to be with your approach.
For the average person, who’s not about to jump on stage and compete in a bikini contest, a reduction of 1% of your bodyweight per week is about right.
This way, you can still incorporate some healthy treats (like dark chocolate) into your week to not make it feel too restrictive.
Don’t get us wrong, the majority of your diet should be based on whole foods but remember, this journey isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
The better you can adhere to your plan, the better chance you have at succeeding.
3) Find something/someone to keep you accountable and provide feedback.
Placing a level of accountability on your shoulders will ensure that you do follow through with your plan of action.
It is very easy to skip a planned workout or give in to a donut at work if you’re the only person that knows.
Having to report back to an accountability system or someone like a coach/personal trainer will greatly increase your likelihood of staying on the straight and narrow.
It is important to recognise that if you have been eating poorly most of your life, if you barely sleep 5 hours a night and run on coffee all day long then change will be tough.
The re-conditioning and re-wiring of these habits will not happen naturally to yourself and you cannot expect it to happen overnight, which is why you need to be realistic with your expectations and be patient.
Making tiny adjustments to your performance is known as ‘Kaizen’ in Japanese, which literally translates to ‘continuous improvement’.
Small incremental adaptations as opposed to wholesale changes won’t leave you overwhelmed or de-motivated and the accumulation of these improvements will compound over time without a big shock to your system.
If training 3x a week seems impossible for you at the moment, start with 1x.
If getting to bed by 11pm is pushing it, work on this by edging back 5 minutes every night.
If walking 10,000 steps a day is too much, increase what you’re currently doing by 500 steps a day.
The feedback that you receive from a coach or from a tracking system will be crucial to your success as you monitor your weekly progression and ultimately get you closer to your goal.
Most diets fail not because of a lack of willpower or determination.
But because of a lack of connection to a powerful driving force, because the plan wasn’t sustainable, and because there was nobody there to provide feedback for improvement.
Written by Danny Ly - Gym Manager & Nutritionist, Embody Fitness, London