How many times have you set crazy goals in the haze of the New Year only to find yourself back to your old routine within weeks?
Have you ever wished that you could make healthy eating and working out a regular part of your life?
Let me explain how you can harness the New Year's opportunity and avoid typical mistakes.
1. You don't know why you're dieting
You’ve embarked on a new diet full of hope and optimism but you haven’t put any procedures in place to keep track of your progress. This mistake alone means that you’re doomed to fail as it is literally impossible to succeed when you haven’t defined what success looks like.
Take the time at the start of the year to plan out your progression and clarify your goals, you might be selling yourself short about what can be achieved.
We have witnessed hundreds of personal training clients make remarkable changes in a short space of time and sustain those results long term.
Fix:Be clear about what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. Knowing what your motivation is will give you the determination to persevere when things get tough. Don't drift into a diet plan because of peer pressure. Don't shy away from being honest about your goals. Vanity is an acceptable goal and it is better to own your vanity and act on it versus pursuing it in a roundabout way. For most people pursuing aesthetic goals will lead towards health anyway, it is only at the elite end of bodybuilding where health and appearance take diverging paths.
Choose the criteria of your diet and measure frequently:
- Caliper measurements
- Progress Photos
- Circumference measurements
- Clothes fitting better
- Belt notches
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Sugar- FreeStyle Libre offer a great device
2. You're thinking too short term
Dry January, Veganuary, Carnivore Month, New Year’s resolutions kick in and people are willing to tolerate all sorts of diets for a short space of time.
The challenge is to ensure that you make the best use of the New Year window of opportunity to eat oddly and cut back socially. Think about January as being foundational to the rest of the year, a time to consolidate, plan and implement a set of strategies and behaviours that will support you long term.
Set both short and long terms goals. Your long terms goals should be big, audacious and outcome based. Whilst your short-term goals should be measurable, implementable and more process oriented.
Long-Term Goal- lose 10 kilos by May
Short-Term Goal-keep daily calories to 2200 and hit the gym 3x per week.
3. You've no idea about numbers
We've said this before. Calories count. You can meal prep to your heart's content, eliminate all of the food groups in a rotation and eat an artisan forged vegan DNA specific menu each day but you won’t make optimal progress if you’re not paying attention to the numbers.
If you track…
1 thing: Calories
2 things: Calories and Bodyweight
3 Things: Calories, Protein and Bodyweight
4 Things: Calories, Protein, Bodyweight and Circumference measurements
4. You're obsessed by the numbers
There is nothing flexible about being totally fixated on hitting certain specific numbers for calories, and macros. Equally, there is no need to be obsessive about other markers of progress. Give yourself some margin for error on the numbers 10% either direction won’t break your diet.
5. You're eating wrong for you
Let's be clear we don’t mean that you’re eating wrong for your Blood type or your DNA or another pseudoscientific nonsense. What we mean it is quite simple, build a diet around your existing preferences- this does mean that you need to construct a diet around pizza and ice cream- clearly, there will have to be some compromise but for some people, it will be much better for certain foods to remain in the diet.
Find foods that you enjoy eating. Learn how to cook. Learn how to make nutrient dense foods taste great. Learn the energy values of the foods you really enjoy and learn how to incorporate them into your diet regularly.
Some people will really struggle with an approach that places certain foods in the forbidden category, making a food taboo will increase its lure and lustre. Others thrive with rigid arbitrary guidelines and a black and white perspective on food. You’ll greatly enhance your ability to stick to a diet if you understand whether you are a “moderator” or “abstainer”. It's interesting that most nutritionist snack dieticians seem to fall into the “moderator” category and this might influence the advice they give out.
Fix:Match up your diet with your preferences, otherwise, you're setting yourself up to fail. Dieting is hard enough without eating foods you dislike.
You love meat- don't become a Vegan. You love carbs- don't go Keto. You love Science- don't do a diet based on your DNA.
6. Your diet is fragile
You only have a Plan A. The best diets are the ones that are robust. Some would even argue that the best diets are the ones where that are anti-fragile, that become more focused once the pressure is on and circumstances contrive to make them challenging.
If your diet plan is contingent on you preparing all of your meals in advance every single evening then inevitably there will be times when this fails. If you don’t have a decent plan B then you’ll struggle to remain consistent over the course of weeks and months as life gets in the way.
Even if you can sustain a newer perfect meal preparation and eating schedule in the short term, it's important to build in contingencies and practice for times when conditions are less favourable.
Build resilience and adaptability.