Today I want to touch on a topic that I guess its quite popular, not only in the fitness community, but for most of the people that give a dime about being healthy. So I wanted to talk about dieting and how to stick with it for longer periods of time. I think this is something that many people struggle with, including myself.
You most probably don’t know that 2-3 months before the end of 2015 I decided to start taking my diet more seriously and start cutting down on my calories with the purpose of losing some more fat and getting lean before the Christmas Holidays. It all went great in the first month or so, I lost around 10 pounds, but eventually I went off track and just couldn’t stick to it anymore.
This happened due to several reasons that I believe are very common in fact. So, here is what I am going to avoid from now on when cutting and what you should avoid too if you plan on starting a particular diet plan or simply lose weight. And since this is one of my 2016 goals, I thought it would be a good topic to talk about.
1. Starting off too aggressive
One mistake that I think threw me off was getting a little bit too aggressive with my diet right from the start. A better approach would’ve been to start my diet just a little bit below my caloric maintenance level and start dropping calories later on based on how my body reacts and on how the numbers on the scale change throughout the diet.
What I did was to start cutting all the way down to 1,500 kcal per day when probably I should have started at 1,800 or even 2,000 kcal per day. This was sustainable at first and worked great because I lost 10 pounds in a month by doing it, but it was not something that I could do in the long run.
If you find it really hard to diet and lower your calories, a good idea is to have eat less every other day, not every day. So if your maintenance level is at 2,000 kcal for example then your meal plan should look something like this:
- day 1: 2,000 kcal
- day 2: less than 2,000 kcal
- day 3: 2,000 kcal
- day 4: less than 2,000 kcal
- and so on
I know everybody wants to lose weight fast and gets excited about it at first but we are better off if we start cutting down on the calories gradually and start a diet that we can actually stick to. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Not having a specific goal
Having a very specific goal and a deadline associated with that goal is probably the most important thing. When you get in your car and start driving you know where you are going. You are not just driving around. The same should be with your diet, otherwise you will be drifting around with no target to hit. You need to know what you want to achieve and you need to know by when you want to achieve it. Both are very important: what and when.
Set goals such as: I want to be 150 pounds or I want to be 180 pounds or I want to have a 30 inch waist or whatever other goal you might have.
Then, set and urgency to that goal, put a deadline on it. I want to be 150 pounds by the 1st of June or I want to have a 30 inch waist by the summer vacation. Deadlines will make you act right now because you know that you have to get things done in a limited period of time. You don’t have forever to lose that weight.
Besides having a specific goal it is also very helpful to have a vision associated with that goal. Try to picture how your body will look once you achieve your goal. This is a motivational hook that will keep you dedicated to your goal. The body does what the mind is telling it to do. Use your mind to visualize yourself as lean as you want to be and make the body do the work.
Even tough I had a goal and a deadline I failed to visualize myself acheiving this goal and getting in the right mindset for achieving my goal. This led to not sticking to my plan.
3. Not planing meals
Getting into the more practical sides of things, there are quite a few things you can do in order to help you stick to your diet. The first and most important one is to have your meals planed ahead. This is the most basic thing you can do, yet many people fail at doing it.
There is nothing worse than having to eat junk or stuff that shouldn’t be in your diet because you did not planned and prepared ahead your meals. Write down what you will eat the next day and have and stick to that plan. Have the food prepared the day before if needed.
4. Lifestyle / Holidays
We want it or not, our life in general and diet in particular will be influenced by the people around us and the social events in our lives. And I or sure had my share of parties, dinners, nights out and family get-together in December. These are all occasions on which you will likely eat more than you should or eat stuff that was not in your diet plan.
Unfortunately for me, December was just in the middle of my diet which screwed things up pretty bad. My advice is to plan your diet so that it will not overlap with periods of the year that will not allow you to say on track such as the summer vacations, winter holidays, your honey moon and stuff like that.
As much as I would like to stick to a diet, I don’t really want it to affect my personal and social life to much, so your lifestyle in general and the holiday seasons are something to consider as well when planning your diet.
Hope this helps, all of you and me as well :). I just started dieting again and I am going to follow all the rules above and see how this one goes.
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