Starting a diet isn’t a very hard thing to do. It’s a matter of setting your mind to it and beginning. Sticking to a diet, on the other hand, comes with a considerable amount of challenge. After all, it involves breaking old habits and building new ones. Neither one of those goals is easy to achieve and weight loss requires you to take on several of them at the same time.
That said, this doesn’t mean that sticking to your diet has to be impossible. The key is to know the right strategies and to use the right tips to keep up your drive and motivation.
Use the following 10 tips to help you stick to your diet:
1. Start your diet by understanding yourself – Instead of working on changing your eating and exercising habits, your first step should be to understand your existing habits and what is driving them. That way, you’ll be able to better focus on boosting your good habits and breaking your bad habits. You’ll know when you get cravings and why so you can put the right efforts into place to overcome them. You’ll know when you’re most likely to skip a workout so you can prevent that from happening.
2. Create a strategy to boost your motivation – Find out what drives you to keep going. It may include visualizing what it’s like when you succeed. It may be the ability to save money by avoiding the need for prescription medications. It could be a matter of reading motivational articles every day. Discover what helps to drive you forward and incorporate those various activities into your life on a regular basis – at least once per day. This will help to keep you driven to continue with your weight loss efforts.
3. Be accountable for everything you eat – Track every single thing you eat every day. There are apps and websites that can help you to quickly enter every meal, recipe or ingredient you eat so you’ll be aware of your balance of calories, nutrients and macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins). This forces you to pay attention to what you’re eating and how much of it. The more you are aware and must acknowledge what you’re eating, the more driven you will be to make the right choices. That way it won’t be hard to admit your selections to yourself.
4. Enjoy every bite – Don’t rush through a meal just so that you’ll have had something. Instead, carefully select your foods, sit down and be aware of each bite. Pay attention to the flavors and textures. Inhale your food so you know how it smells. Each bite is a part of the experience. Decide what you do and do not like about each bite. Don’t watch TV as you eat. Make the food the experience. The less mindlessly you eat, the less likely you are to overeat.
5. Stop chasing the perfect dieting solution – No plan or single food is perfect. Instead of trying to find the ideal plan, eat nutritious foods, eat a large variety of foods and eat each one in moderation.
6. Develop a healthier relationship with your food – Stop thinking of foods in terms of good and bad or in terms of being allowed or banned. Instead, understand that you are, indeed, what you eat. Value nutrition but accept the fact that there are some nutritionally empty foods that you absolutely love. On occasion, treat yourself to a couple of bites of those foods and savor those bites. They will taste all the better as a rare treat and then there is no need to feel bad or guilty.
7. Understand what hunger truly is – As a well fed society, we have reached the point that feeling hungry seems to equate to an emergency. We really don’t know the difference between mild hunger and actually starving. To us, it feels the same. It’s time to teach yourself that it’s not bad to feel a little hungry and we don’t need to act with urgency when we no longer feel full. One day (and just one day, you don’t need to make a habit of it), don’t eat any snacks and skip your lunch. You’ll discover that it’s uncomfortable, it’s not necessarily nice, but it’s only a mild discomfort. It’s not even as bad as a paper cut or stubbing your toe. Moreover, it comes in waves of only 5 to 10 minutes and will usually fade away for much longer. You don’t always have to feed your mildest hunger.
8. Know what hungry actually feels like – Our stomachs growl for many reasons. Only rarely is it actual hunger – that is, the body’s need for nutrients. What we often interpret as hunger can easily be thirst, boredom, fatigue, negative emotions or a specific food craving. When your hunger is actually a desire to eat and not a need to eat, it typically won’t last if you distract yourself sufficiently. Learn to identify the sensation of true hunger and to distract yourself from unnecessary desires to eat.
9. Give yourself an eating schedule – Teach your body to expect to eat at set times, including your meals and snacks. Eat only at those times and distract yourself at all other times. Soon, your body will start to feel hungry only at those designated hours.
10. Focus on your habits, not the foods – You may think it’s a good idea to try to cut potato chips out of your life, but chips aren’t the problem. The habit of eating too many potato chips too frequently is the problem. Therefore, when you are focusing on your action, don’t tell yourself that you shouldn’t be eating chips. Tell yourself that it’s important to break the habit of eating too many chips all the time. Tell yourself that you need to build a healthier relationship with your habits involving this specific food.