Fitness has been a much larger part of my life now since I’ve realized how out of shape I really was. There’s more to fitness than just working out though. I often hear that losing weight is 75% diet and 25% exercise or things very similar to that. While that might be true, diets are often not sustainable for most people.
I’m not going to claim to be an expert on the subject or to have vast knowledge about nutrition. I will say that you need that nutrition and that if you eat junk, expect to feel like crap. There are always those anomalies out there. The people who eat tons of crap, yet have the metabolism of a jack rabbit and never gain weight. Most of us aren’t that though.
Its easy to get enthusiastic about losing weight and getting in shape, pick the most extreme diet, and then think that you’re going to kick ass and lose weight. I’ve found that, for me any way, there are a ton of factors that hurt your ability to stick with it.
There are numerous things that will absolutely crush your ability to stick with a diet. I’ll try and break these things down so that if you see them, you can recognize them and avoid issues. Before I get into this stuff I need to say that slip ups happen and you cannot get down on yourself. Beating yourself up is counter productive. It is much better to realize what you are doing and minimize it. Then use your critical thinking skills to figure out a way to correct your individual problems.
I’m not perfect and in writing this I’m hoping that pointing out my faults and failures helps you. Heck, I’m that bad dad that eats his kids Halloween candy. They don’t need it any way, right? So lets talk about some issues and then some things to subvert them.
Yep, I’m blaming family. Your goals are not your family’s goals. They might not have the same goals as you. Forcing them to eat the cardboard diet food that you want to try is not going to work. Nor should you force them to eat it. I personally feel as though if you are doing some sort of restrictive diet, it might not be good for you kids or the rest of your family. So are you going to cook one meal for yourself and one meal for the rest of your family? Probably not.
It becomes far too hard to diet when the rest of your family doesn’t want to eat what you’re eating. So what do you do? I’m lucky that my girlfriend is on board with eating healthy. We make my kids eat healthy as well. There is a catch though. We cook a base meal that is healthy and that every one can eat. No special diet foods for the most part. Then we will severely portion carb heavy items or omit them completely for ourselves. Some times we will even substitute foods like veggie pasta for real pasta for just ourselves and give the kids the real pasta.
So for us, the base meal is the same with a lot of portioning and substitution. This has worked well. It keeps preparing meals easy.
Snacking is not the devil. I do snack during the day, but I keep my snacks healthy. If you’re hungry all the time, then the likely hood of sticking with any sort of diet is small. So how do I deal with it?
Its pretty damn simple. I have a snack once a day. Its typically a healthy snack though. If you’re doing something specific like Keto, for instance, make sure you snack fits your diet and doesn’t hurt your progress. I only use Keto for an example because I’ve done quite a bit of home work on it and why/how it works.
One way or another, don’t go over board on your snack. That will hurt your progress. A small healthy snack, even if it seems much too small, will typically hold me over until the next meal. Fluids are good too. I will usually drink water when I start to think I’m feeling hungry. This brings me to two other points.
Unwittingly Drinking Your Calories.
I have a really bad habit of this. It is very easy to sabotage your diet because you drink all your calories. I know a lot of people who don’t want to only drink water. People who wont cut out most of their beer drinking. Even people who drink a 2 liter of Mountain Dew every day. Well, these things can and will hurt your goals.
So how do you combat drinking your calories. You’ll hear a lot of people say to stop drinking pop. I’m hear to tell you, stop drinking pop. Seriously, its absolutely horrible for you. In fact, don’t stop at pop. Stop drinking energy drinks, stop drinking juice, stop drinking your sugary foo foo coffee, and stop basically drinking anything with sugar.
I sounds like a fun nazi, but the fact of the matter is that you can sabotage yourself quickly. Cutting everything out cold turkey doesn’t work for every one and could equally sabotage you. So cut your pop and foo foo coffee drinks down to one a week. I cut out pop to maybe one or 2 a month if I even drink that many. I wont buy it and I usually only drink it if I’m out at a restaurant. Even that it is avoidable though.
But you need your coffee! Drink black coffee. Seriously. I stopped drinking sugary coffee a long time ago. Why? Because it gave me bad heartburn. So I drink it black. I’m still getting my coffee. Maybe you think water is too bland? Drink some unsweetened tea. Seriously. I do this a lot. It has zero carbs and zero calories. Its got some flavor and if you like sweet tea, you’re just losing the sweet part. Its no big deal. Moral of the story, find healthy alternatives to your sugary drinks.
This is another area that blew me away when I got things under control. What do I mean? I used to eat a ton of food. Even if I was eating healthy, I was not going to lose weight. We get so wrapped up into efficiency and being fast at everything. I think it stems from our professional lives. It doesn’t fit every where. Cramming as much food in your mouth as you can on your half hour lunch is sabotaging you. Ultimately I took this habit home with me.
I really do enjoy food. When I decided to get in shape and lose weight I made an observation. I always felt overly stuffed after dinner. So I decided to slow down and enjoy my food. What did I discover? I found out that I only needed to eat about half the food that I was eating. So right there I could literally cut my food intake in half, feel full all night, and not feel uncomfortably over full. Like I could immediately go hit the gym and not feel like puking, but still stay content and not hungry.
To take it one step farther, I also made it a point to portion my food out in terms of types of food as well. Half of my food might be vegetables. Then the next biggest portion would be my protein, with carbs being a very small portion. Almost so small it seems unfulfilling. I might have said it before, I eat almost keto like. So my carb intake is minimal. There are portioning guides out there on the internet. I cant tell you what will work for you.
Lets face it, if it tastes like crap, then you aren’t going to eat it. This is a simple one. You absolutely have to like what you’re eating. If you pick some extreme diet where you can only eat cardboard, then the likelihood of you sticking with it are small. More over, your family definitely wont eat it with you, making it harder on you.
Like I said, I eat more keto like, but not nearly as strictly. I’ve lost some weight, but my gains are not crazy like some people who went hardcore keto. Do I care? No. Why? Because I feel a million times better than I did when I was eating crap and I’m headed in the right direction. When I strap on my concealed carry gun, I feel like I need to tighten up my belt, not loosen it.
Keto has a lot of substitutes like cauliflower potatoes and such. I can do it, but not reheated. The important thing is that a lot of the substituted food are things that I actually really enjoy. It makes it easier to gravitate in that direction for me. No diet will ever work if you cant sick with it because you hate the food.
This is a big one for me. Often times its hard to eat healthy because eating healthy often requires time to cook your meals. There are numerous ways to combat this, but it is a huge deal. I’m not a good cook and I am very lucky to have a girlfriend that is an amazing cook. Even so, we both get busy.
One way to combat the business of life is to meal prep. What does this look like? Some people set aside time to actually prepare their meals for the week. Its time consuming, but in the end it helps you save time throughout the week. Even better yet, it helps you eat healthy. For me, my one day that I typically am not slammed with stuff, I usually spend cleaning the house for half the day. So this isn’t something that my girlfriend and I tend to do. It is a good option for some people though.
The other thing that I find that helps is… well… help. I’m no cook and often times my girlfriend cooks. If she needs help, then I try to help her out. I mean, as much as I can. She obviously doesn’t want be destroying dinner. If you can tag team meals, then it can make things easier.
When all else fails and you end up having to eat out or don’t have time to cook healthy meals from scratch, then look for healthy options. Ultimately some places have much more healthy meal options than others. On top of that, you can drink water instead of pop. You can have you hamburgers in a lettuces wrap if that is what you need to do to make it fit your diet. Some times you can modify things to work.
This is a topic I’ve touched on numerous times in various subjects. I can only tell you about my experience, how I dealt with issues, and why. You may have a completely different set of circumstances that I will never experience or have no context for.
You need to be able to know when you’ve failed and why. You don’t need to beat yourself up over your failures though. I mean, a piece of Halloween candy or big holiday meals aren’t going to kill you. Don’t make habits out of it though. If you see something that you are continually failing at though, recognize it and get to the bottom of why it is happening.
After you know why it is happening, then you can formulate a plan to fix the issue. The important part is heading in the right direction and not letting yourself slip to the point where you form a bad habit. For example, I tended to go out to eat at lunch a lot. The solution was simple. I now bring a healthy lunch. We tend to make enough dinner to have leftovers to bring for lunch. This has worked really well in that it keeps me from eating unhealthy fast food and saves me money.
Sticking with it.
These are just a few of the things to consider as far as dieting goes. Lets face it, diets suck. That’s why I do what I do. If what ever you’re doing is hard, doesn’t fit your life, or you don’t enjoy it, then it wont be sustainable. In the end what you need is something sustainable to be successful. I’ve seen so many people try different diets and be successful. I’m personally not sold that there is only one way to accomplish the goal of losing weight, but if you cant stick to it, then it wont help you.
In the end, its much like working out. The diet you choose must become part of your way of life. Its all a life style thing.