You can have the greatest nutrition plan in the world, but if you don’t have the right mindset, you’re destined to fail. Everyone argues about which diet is best, but no matter which one you go with, if the mindset isn’t there you’re setting yourself up for failure.
I’m not about to give you a magical formula to lose 100 pounds because there isn’t one. Losing weight is hard. It takes time. That’s why it’s so important that we set ourselves up for long term success instead of looking for the quick fix and continuing a cycle of yo-yo dieting that eventually takes a toll on us mentally. Here’s six steps that you can start taking IMMEDIATELY to transform yourself into a successful ‘dieter.’
Don’t let one mistake turn into many
We live in a world where pizza, ice cream, and booze reign supreme. Sounds like a cool place to live, huh? We’re human. None of us have an iron will, and that’s okay! We’re bound to give in from time to time. I want you to think of something, has an obese person ever gotten skinny by eating one salad? No. Just like you’re not going to lose all your progress by overshooting your calories one time.
The most important thing to do after you slip up is get right back on track. No, that doesn’t mean torturing yourself with hours of cardio or starving yourself the next day. That’s a sure fire recipe to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. That means you get back to your normal eating routine and exercise regimen ASAP.
Focus on consistency, not perfection
One mistake most first time ‘dieters’ make is creating this ridiculous nutrition program where they totally restrict themselves of the foods that they enjoy. No carbs..no fat..blah blah blah.. and they end up miserable because of it. News flash: Life’s too short to be miserable because of your diet. Personally, I don’t want to live a life where I can’t have a little bit of ice cream every now and then. Along with just being miserable, it’s not sustainable. You may be able to keep up that diet for a few days but eventually you’re going to give in to your cravings and the wheels will fall off the wagon.
As crazy as it sounds, you’re going to get better results from an ‘okay’ plan that you can follow consistently vs a perfect plan that you follow inconsistently. So when you are putting together your plan, make sure you allow yourself to have foods you enjoy in moderation. We’re trying to create a healthy lifestyle, and it’s not realistic to say that you’re never going to eat ‘junk food’ again. If you’re in a calorie deficit and you’re getting enough protein in your diet, you’re still going to lose weight. Even if you have a little bit of ice cream! Which brings us to our next step..
Moderation, not restriction
My experience with food led me to believe that certain foods are good for you and certain foods are bad for you. You lost weight by cutting those ‘bad’ foods out of your diet.
Plain chicken and rice = Good Ice cream and cookies = Bad
That all changed when I was introduced to flexible dieting. Flexible dieting (IIFYM or if it fits your macros) is simply counting and tracking your macros (protein, carbs, fat) to achieve a body composition goal. All of us have a daily calorie goal and macronutrient goal we should hit as consistently as we can. Every food and drink ever is made up of protein, carbs, and fat. So, think of it as an ‘allowance.’ However you want to spend your macros is up to you. If you still hit your goals for that day, you’re still going to make progress towards your goals. Even if you have a little bit of what most people consider ‘junk food.’ That being said, you’re going to be able to eat a lot more of what is generally considered a healthy food. 400 calories in lean protein and veggies ends up being a lot more food that 400 calories in chocolate. Think about the 80/20 rule. Let 80% of your food come from whole, nutritious foods, and let the other 20% come from ‘fun’ foods.
Forgive yourself when you screw up
Breaking news: We’re not robots, and it’s for that reason that no dieter is ever 100% perfect. Everyone from time to time will slip up on their diet. Unfortunately, our natural reaction to slipping up is to ‘punish’ ourselves with hours of cardio or starving yourself the next day. Stop the abuse! As I said before, no obese person has ever gotten skinny from eating one salad, and nobody has ever gotten fat from overshooting their calories one time. Relax. Get back on track with your very next meal.
Realize it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Marathon runners dare no joke. The successful ones train hard, regularly assess what’s working and what’s not, and NEVER give up. In many ways, being successful at weight loss is like running a marathon. If you ever feel frustrated with your slower-than-slow weight loss, remember that winning the weight loss race is a marathon rather than a sprint.
Marathon runners take a long time to train for marathons. Almost no one can go from a couch potato to a marathon runner in a week. Weight loss is just like training for a marathon. No one wakes up one day magically 50 pounds lighter. At least without the help from a surgeon.
Most dieters are stuck in a cycle of starting their diet, and then after a few days getting frustrated with the lack of immediate progress. The frustration with slow weight loss is a common reason for quitting. But when you develop a marathon attitude, you accept your pace and do the following: Train your mind to accept a new way of eating, which takes time. Adopt a new lifestyle, which is rarely easy. Be prepared for a long journey.
Once you adopt the marathon mindset you’re chances of successfully losing weight increases exponentially. Having a marathoner’s mindset instead of that of sprinters helps you in your weight loss no matter if you are just starting, in the middle of your journey, or reaching your goal weight. Weight loss and eventual weight maintenance is a lifelong process rather than a one-time race.
When you crave a certain food, eat it
Let me be clear, I’m not telling you to go eat a tray of brownies because it sounds good. This ties in to the marathon mindset we previously discussed. It’s not realistic to say you’re never going to eat ‘bad’ food again so if you’re craving a cookie, eat the cookie. Just don’t eat the entire box. If you’re craving ice cream, go buy a pint of Halo Top instead of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
You can fit these things in to your diet. Like we previously discussed if you’re in a calorie deficit and you’re getting enough protein in your diet, you’re still going to lose weight. Even if you eat that cookie or have that ice cream. Just plan for it! And if you’re really craving a cookie but it puts you 100 calories over your calorie limit for the day, eat the cookie. Going 100 calories over your allowance for the day IS NOT A BIG DEAL.
At the end of the day, what it comes down to is that life is too short to be miserable because of your diet. Your diet should be part of your life, not your entire life. Make sure you pick a plan that you can not only stick to, but you enjoy (or at least don’t hate.) If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition, download my FREE nutrition guide or inquire about 1 on 1 coaching!