It's no secret that it changing what you eat can be hard. That is why 90% of people who change their diet will eventually revert back.
Because most people take the wrong approach. Changing what you eat requires a lot of trial and error, learning what works for you, and being willing to rethink other areas and priorities in your life.
When most people start a new diet, they take the "all or nothing" approach and go for the full overhaul. This almost never works because diet and lifestyle are too closely linked.
If you attempt a big diet change without also considering and planning lifestyle changes, the diet will fail.
Instead of seeing this as a sign that diets don’t work, let’s look at what the 10% of people that DO make changes are using to succeed.
1) Start Small
How small? As small as you need to keep doing it. One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself before you try something is this:
“Will I be able to do this for the rest of my life?”
If you don’t immediately think, “YES I CAN!” then make it smaller. One of the classic habits that we work to build with people is drinking more water.
If you are someone who predominantly relies on coffee, soda, or juice for your liquid, then getting some water in there is not a bad idea.
But where I see people struggle with this is when they try to go from zero to 80 oz a day.
In order to drink 80 oz (or whatever amount you increase to), you are forced to not just create one new habit (drink water) but many (have a glass in the morning, then again after breakfast, then again after lunch, then again after dinner, etc).
So, a better approach to making this change would be to pick ONE time that you will have a glass of water each day, and pair it with something you already do.
Do you have a cup of coffee every morning? Why not have a glass of water right before you have your coffee? Make it a little rule…no coffee until water.
By doing this, you have changed just one thing, and you have stuck it right next to a habit that isn’t going anywhere soon -- your daily coffee!
2) Pick one meal to perfect
A common pattern in dieting is to change a lot of things quickly, which results in no change over the long run.
So, if we flip this equation and focus on a few things for a LONG time, then we should be able to get them to stick.
Your meals are a great place to start because you already eat at certain times, so just try substituting a good meal for a not-so-good meal.
You have made a positive change! Let’s take lunch for example.
If you go out every day right now and get a sandwich, how hard would it be to switch that over to a salad?
That could be your first step. Then, once you are used to having salad, could you start bringing your own salad from home one day a week? Or maybe it would be easier to just bring it every day.
The point isn’t what change you make, the point is working to get the best lunch you can before you move on. This might take time, but once you have the habit in place, you are done and you never have to worry about lunch again.
3) Balance your meals
Another simple thing you can do right away is to just make sure all your meals have protein, carbs, and fat.
Let’s take a look at your newly adopted lunch salad!
- Protein: Chicken, beef, tuna, etc.
- Carbs: Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, etc.
- Fat: Olive oil, nuts, seeds, etc.
These are not your only options, but hopefully you see that as long as you hit all three categories, you will know that you have a balanced meal.
And when you balance a meal, your nutrition will immediately get better, because most unbalanced meals are always disproportionate in one direction -- carbs!
We loooove our carbs, but with a little balancing, you can still keep them in the mix; just make sure to get some good fat and protein as well!
Making Your Changes Stick
As you are working to keep your new diet going, keeping these tips handy is going to be a great place to start.
One other that is not exactly diet related, but has been shown to be critical to long term diet success is...
You wouldn't think about this right away, but if you have ever had a consistent exercise routine, you probably can guess why exercise matters.
Exercise is what is known as a keystone habit. That means that when you are exercising regularly, you are also most likely to do other things that are good for your health.
So, by exercising, you find it easier to make dietary changes because it reinforces the hard work you are doing in the gym.
Exercise also happens to:
- Elevate your mood
- Improve will power and decision making
- Make you feel more in control of your life
- Boost confidence
- Increase energy
- And of course there are all the physical benefits (stronger, more resilient to injury, more toned muscle, better core strength, etc) too!
And one last thing. If you are dieting to lose weight, then exercise is a must.
When you lose weight, you want to make sure that you are losing fat...not muscle. If you diet without exercise, then you will lose both. This might not sound like a big deal, until you realize that muscle is directly related to metabolism.
So, if you lose a bunch of weight and half of it is muscle, you have effectively slowed your metabolism, making it very hard, if not impossible, to keep the weight off. This is where the dreaded "yo-yo" effect can come in.
To avoid this, just make sure that you are doing some sort of strength training while you work to change your diet.
And if you are not sure what you would do even if you wanted to "strength train," that is where we can help.
Most people that come to us have little to no experience with weights, which is why they are so surprised and pleased when they see how easy it is to get started when you have a customized program made just for you.
We often hear people say things like "I never knew I would have so much fun working out" or "This is the best part of my day now!".
We love hearing that 🙂
So if you are thinking about getting started in exercise (and need some help on the diet side as well), reach out today and see if we are a good fit for your needs. Just click the "schedule a call" button in the upper right and we'll look forward to talking with you soon!
Mint Condition Fitness empowers people to take control of their fitness and fully enjoy the life they have built.