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You’ve fallen off the wagon haven’t you? You were doing so well and then “boom!” something happened, you’ve gone back to your old ways and your diet is out of the window. It doesn’t seem to matter what you do, you just can’t stick to a diet!
If you’ve ever been on a diet you will have definitely been in this position at some point. In fact I’d go so far as to say this happens to the majority of dieters regardless of your end goal!
It sucks. It makes you feel like such a failure; there must be something wrong with you since everyone else can do it, right?!
Well I’ve been there too and I’ve learnt a few things along the way, so here are a few tips and tricks that help me stick to a diet.
Your second voice
I like to think of the second voice as my inner child, or like a little devil on my shoulder. It is petulant and irrational and doesn’t give a shizz about my intentions or best laid plans.
You’ve probably got a second voice too, it’s like a little person who pops up and says:
“Oh we’re in the shop, we could get a chocolate bar, we’ve had a tough day.”
“Wow, it’s Saturday night, we’ve done so well on the diet all week, definitely time for a glass of wine or two!”
The thing is, that little voice isn’t helpful, it doesn’t support the goals we’re trying to achieve, it seeks only to create and action a split second search for pleasure.
My second voice even has a name… I call him Fatboy.
That little voice had a purpose once. Think about how your “survival mode” is primed, it is within our nature as humans to hunt out high calorie foods that will sustain us because we may never know when we might get our next meal.
Whilst the human body is very smart, it still needs you to consciously help it to make smart choices.
Learn to recognise your second voice, really listen and start to separate yourself from it. Understand that this little voice normally pops up because it has been triggered by something. The trigger can be as simple as walking past an advert that then sets off a train of thought in your head.
My first tip is:
Learn to separate your second voice from your commitment to your goals.
Outwit yourself; you are not going to be controlled by this irrational little dufus.
Preparation and planning ahead
OK this one is pretty obvious but it is so important. Nailing down the logistics of your diet will be critical to your success.
Make a habit of picking one day where you get all your food in, and one day where you do a top-up shop for any fresh foods.
We bulk buy our meat once a month and then do a main shop once a week for fresh foods. Limiting the amount of time you spend in supermarkets will also help you ignore your second voice.
In most diets there are several main components:
Meat or meat substitute
For me I take two meals to work every day so I pre-cook as much of these as I can without losing quality.
I pre-cook my meat in bulk, I then separate into containers and freeze. In each container I have two days worth of meat so when defrosted it is a fresh as possible.
I pre-cook all my veg and do the same for these too, separated into containers and freeze. I also have a back up plan by always keeping a frozen bag of Mediterranean vegetables.
I always cook my carbs the day before I need them, the first thing I do when I get home from work is cook my rice and potatoes for the next day.
I have a back up plan for carbs too, for absolute last minute jobbies I have some packets of plain basmati microwave rice.
These are great if you’re running a bit late, but be aware these are not great for everyday use as a) they’re so much more expensive than normal rice and b) they often contain extra calories in the form of added flavouring, sugar and oil.
Again where you can buy any nuts, fruit and snacks in bulk. Another option is to buy canned fruit in juice if your diet allows it.
This little routine works because I’m not rushing around in the morning trying to get food together, my meals are ready to pick up and go to work. For all my other meals I just cook them at home ready to eat but if I’m running short on time I always have some pre-cooked food I can use instead which is always useful!
So my second tip:
Pre-cook as much food as you possibly can
Measure out and put your meals in Tupperware the day before you need them
Keep backup options for when you haven’t got time to cook
A lot of diets fall over because they are just not sustainable. Completely eradicating food types from your diet makes life complicated and restrictive. Have a look over what you are doing; to lose weight you don’t need to do some crazy fat free, no-carbs-before-marbs, juice cleanse rubbish. If you’ve given yourself something ridiculous to follow you were set up to fail.
You need to play around and find what foods you like; build a diet that suits you and that you can stick to. Finding healthier food choices that you like is also good in the long-run as it supports you changing your lifestyle for the better and not just for a few months.
To give you an example, I had broccoli in my diet for months, I couldn’t stand it, and guess what? I started to skip my meals! So I swapped it for courgette and ta da I was much happier with my meals!
Sometimes foods just don’t suit you so just find the best option you can for you.
My third tip:
Give yourself a week to try out different combinations of healthier foods, what meat do you prefer? What veg do you prefer?
Try out different seasonings and spices. Once you have an idea of what you like build your new diet around that.
Dieting is tough, but it is even tougher if your surroundings don’t support your goals.
There are two main parts to this; place and people.
So let’s start with place. You need to remove as many temptations from the places that you spend most of your time. So get in that kitchen and remove anything that’s a weakness, donate it to a food bank or chuck it out! Don’t keep thinking you’ll “treat yourself” at a later date, you don’t need it.
If you have a vending machine at work or often buy snacks, or food on your lunch, leave your bank card and cash at home. If you haven’t got it you can’t use it!
Set up the places around you to help you as much as possible.
People. Ah tricky little things us humans. I don’t know why but people are just not so great at letting you get on with your diet in peace. Everyone has an opinion so you need to get really good at just letting what other people say go over your head. The old:
“Oh one biscuit won’t harm”
“Just have one, it can be our secret”
“You don’t need to diet, you’re perfect”
Well yes you are perfect, but at the minute you have a goal that you are determined to achieve. These little comments are all well intentioned but are not helpful. They can also act as triggers for your second voice and end up causing you to go astray.
Tip number four:
Rid your life of temptations, it might help to clear out foods you are likely to pick at.
Recognise that people around you mean well, but may not be helping you. Be brave enough to say “No thank you, I don’t fancy one right now” or “maybe later”, don’t feel like you have to accept offers of food or advice.
All or nothing
Some people can slip off their diet and be straight back on it by the next meal.
Some of us cannot. Some of us are gonna make a mistake and think “ah f*$k it, I’ll have the rest of the day off then”.
Oh guess who is talking? Hello Fatboy.
If you recognise that you are the sort of person who will let a mistake pull you off course then you may need to adjust your thinking.
Let’s talk about adherence: the amount of time you stick to your diet can be referred to as adherence.
So if you have 3 meals a day 7 days a week, that is 21 meals. To achieve 100% adherence you need to eat all 21 meals spot on and not consume any extras.
If you ate one meal differently to your diet you just knocked your adherence down to 66% for that day.
Generally speaking adherence = results. So if you are only 66% adherent you can’t expect 100% results. Little mistakes can completely ruin any chance you have of making progress, because collectively they impact on the calorie deficit (or surplus) that is in place to help you achieve your goals.
So for me I know I have to commit 100%, not 99%, not 80%. Because for me one little treat, turns into several treats, turns in to two days and a complete setback.
Once you understand the importance of that you will start to realise the “little treats” and “little mistakes” are all adding up and chipping away at your adherence.
So, my final tip:
Time to get strict with yourself my friend, no little treats, no little mistakes. Accept that there isn’t anything wrong with you but you’re going to toughen up and commit 100% for results.
Sometimes you’ve got to take ownership and realise that you are responsible for your choices. It’s real easy to try and find something or someone to blame but when it comes down to it the only person who can do this is you! Be strong, you got this, get that fire and get motivated.
So I hope that gives you some ideas on how you get back on track and start sticking to your diet again. Have you got any other pointers you’d like to share? Let me know and good luck!