Are you REALLY ready to start dieting?
Posted 08-08-2019 | Updated
Did you know that two thirds of Britons are on a diet at any given time? Which is ironic as two thirds of Britons are overweight or obese.
Does this indicate that diets don’t work?
Maybe. People are always dieting, or so the numbers say, but the number stays the same, we’re dieting but remaining over weight, something is amiss…
A diet is a word that people associate with getting lean, trimming up, dropping some body fat, or getting in shape. So whatever we call it the aim is the same, it’s just many aren’t getting the outcome they want to get, which is actually fat loss.
Not weight loss, fat loss. It’s a key distinction. Especially when someone steps on the scales to see if they have lost fat, only to see they haven’t lost weight, but they could have lost fat, it’s just the number on the scales isn’t showing it. There are many things that make up our weight; fat, muscle, fluids, bones, glycogen storage, poop, needing a wee.
So when you get on the scales you might have lost fat, it’s just not showing as weight loss because other things could have changed, like your hydration status, level of glycogen storage because you exercised a lot yesterday, you could need a big poo, who knows. So careful with letting that number on the scales define your success, use other markers of fat loss as well as the scales.
I write this article as I embark on a diet myself. Yep, I’ve put on a few pounds myself and I want to drop them. I got a bit relaxed, was enjoying the summer a lot, was hitting the weights in the gym so was trying to build muscle and generally let a few of the rules I have for myself slide as I justified the extra food as gym gainz.
But no more, everything is getting tightened back up again. And that is likely many people’s issue with dieting, being consistent, after all 2/3 of people are trying, but 2/3 of people are overweight. Sounds like a consistency issue to me.
So if you can find a way to be consistent, and can control, ultimately, what goes in your mouth we might see more success. After all no successful diet was built around a liberal amount of cake in one’s diet (insert food here that you love to eat but should maybe limit), sure have a little, but there has to be a limit as cake is pretty darn calorific.
For the most part this is what everyone is struggling with, consistency with their diet, but why? Why do people struggle so much with sticking to a diet?
Being honest, we all let things slip a little from time to time, and that’s cool. Maybe it’s the summer and holidays are booked, maybe friends are constantly having BBQs and cool stuff is happening all around you, maybe you got busy at work and can’t get enough exercise in at the moment, maybe you’ve just had a new born and you feel like death most days through lack of sleep, and as a result over time the pounds creep on and we’ve hit August thinking “ah, bugger”.
This is fine, it happens to us all. What I don’t then want as a coach is people to then think “screw it, I’m half way fat, might as well carry on”. This isn’t a person with a mindset that values their body and health, and I need you to be that person, you should want to be that person, after all, without your body and your health can you really expect to be your best?
So my starting point with my diet is my why. I want to be the healthiest I can be, I want to look great in and out of my clothes, and I want my 100% confident self-back. As a result of these why’s I have the deep and emotive impulse to change, it causes me to say no to the evening box set with ice cream and yes to getting outside for an evening walk with my wife and cooking a proper healthy dinner together.
Body and mind transformation all starts in your head, and because I have the right why, I genuinely WANT it and no one is going to stop me from wanting it. When you are not 100% clear on the outcome you want you will let other people, situations and your environment dictate the outcome. This means that when you go out for dinner, instead of picking the leaner option and saving room for a drink or two you get influenced by others and you end up having a burger, ½ a bottle of wine and an indulgent pudding, just cause that’s what everyone else did.
Strength in numbers, if they’ve having it then it must be ok…
This over indulgence happened, again, because you didn’t really have a genuine plan for yourself, so you let yourself get influenced by others.
NOTE: I’m not saying going out and eating a burger, having booze and eating pudding is a bad thing, but whatever you eat and do, has to be in alignment with your goals and the outcomes you want for yourself. So if you’ve planned to have a burger and it’s all accounted for and not going to push you off track then awesome, crack on, but if it’s going to be too much food for your goals and desired outcomes right now, then you need to make different choices. It’s that or live with being pissed off the next day at those choices and being a step backwards.
When you start with why you make a commitment and plan for yourself, you create a reason to say no to the wants and desires of others, this is when you empower yourself with consistency. This initial motivation and reasoning then leads to habit, and it becomes more habitual to say no than yes, and saying no means you are in control of your decisions, and thus the outcome. Not someone else.
Leaving your decisions to others will only lead to long term frustration and regret, so get focused, know your why, and take control of your actions that feed into your desired outcomes.
With my mindset right now I feel strong, confident and focused on the outcome, so as I navigate a summer of BBQs and events, I know what I am going to eat, why, and how to manage a few indulgences. Ultimately if we want to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, we have to live with the very likely outcome of being overweight. I don’t want that. So I plan and make my indulgences realistic and occasional.
This is how we create a diet for life, by knowing we are embarking on something we can stick to. I know I can stick to the above for life, and do. I don’t overly restrict myself, but there has to be some restriction there, otherwise it will all get too much, I will eat too much, I will put on weight. And I repeat, I don’t want that.
We all need rules with our body and health, that is a simple reality. We can’t just eat and drink whatever we want and expect the outcome to be as we dream or see in magazines, we need to have rules that allow flexibility and indulgence at the right time, with a plan, but keep us on the straight and narrow at other times.
So I know my why. Do you?
If not get busy, get out a pen and paper and write down the reason you want to lose weight.
In fact, write down 50 reasons you want to lose weight. See the magnitude of reasons you want it. Then write down all the reasons you don’t want to lose weight. This is important as you can then identify the reasons you don’t want to diet, which might be things like “I don’t want to go on a diet because I don’t want to stop being sociable and living life, I don’t want to feel restricted and be boring”.
And it’s important we identify stuff like that as we can mitigate and manage those reasons. We can then logically put a plan into place so it doesn’t happen. So if that above reason is a reason you don’t want to lose weight you can then sit down and hash out a plan to combat it. How do I ensure my diet doesn’t hold me back from living a fun and sociable life?
- I ensure I know the rough calories in the food I eat, so if I know how many calories are in a burger and pint of beer, and I’m off out to dinner, I then know how that burger and beer fits into my overall daily calorie needs
- I ensure I stay active, an active person burns more calories which allows more flexibility with the foods we eat
- I choose my battles, I go out occasionally and really enjoy myself when I do
- When I’m at home I eat as well as humanly possible, so if do then go out and eat what I fancy my health is covered as I’m eating really good food 80-90% of the time
- I have a 2 drink rule, if I’m not going out drinking I allow myself 2 alcoholic drinks at a social event, this means I won’t consume too many calories from alcohol, I won’t feel tired or hungover the next day, and I won’t spend too much. A rule that I have multiple reasons to stick to. (it’s easy to be short sighted with alcohol, one drink makes us want more, so we have more, in the moment it feels fun and like a good idea, but project into the future, is it a good idea for your wallet, health, waste line and how you’ll feel the next day… you decide!)
Ultimately this is where we need to get logical about our goals and what stops us. If you are worried about dieting, identify why, then create a strategy to mitigate those downsides as much as possible. The reality is that going on a diet will lead to some restriction, but if we can minimise that like I’ve done above with those 5 rules I have for myself when going out it will make the diet more sustainable and feel like less of a burden as there is some flexibility in your diet to enjoy life, but stay on track.
So I’ll repeat the title of this blog, are you really ready to start dieting?
Either way write down all your whys, write down all the reasons you don’t want to diet, get your whys to be emotional and connect with them, make them feel visceral in you to a point they move you to want to take action, then get logical and work out a plan to work around the reasons you don’t want to diet to make the journey easier on yourself.
We can have it all, we just need a plan, and only you can make a plan that works for you and your goals. Oh, and how did my fat loss pan out? Lovely, thanks for asking…
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