I put out a survey to my clients a few weeks ago and this question came from several of them so I thought I would put together some good tips to help with this.
First of all, you must look at how you are approaching your weight loss and diet from the get go.
This is what I commonly see and you probably know people who have tried to change this way.
People try too hard and they go from 0 - 100 overnight and make too many changes that are way to drastic way too soon. They want to change everything because they are highly motivated to change.
You feel highly motivated early on and you find it hard to fathom that you will be de-motivated in a few days, but there will come a time when you won't feel motivated any more but you have committed to doing this tough diet thing.
This is called the "Hot and cold effect" - it is when you are unable to empathise about how you will feel in a different situation. Initially you are highly motivated so you will commit to this extreme behaviour change and you are unable to fathom how you will feel in a few weeks time.
It is a psychological phenomenon.
When things don't go as planned, you try to exercise more, cut out more calories and then you realise that you cannot keep this up.
Mainstream media does not help at all. Our thinking is that it should be extreme and hard and if you are not suffering you are not doing enough.
You do not have a diet or weight loss problem, you have a diet or weight maintenance problem.
I know that moderation and slower progress is not sexy and appealing and no one wants to say, I did little things over a period of months and years and I was consistent and just stuck with it.
First and foremost, to stick with your diet, it starts with the right mindset.
If you do not have the right mental tools to execute a diet and training program consistently, it does not matter how good the program is.
You must find a way to enjoy the process. Find ways to enjoy workouts, to enjoy eating etc.
Secondly, putting certain foods and food groups off limits is not a long term approach to healthy eating.
This is not a good mindset approach.
At some point you will get yourself into trouble and at some point you will find yourself in a situation where you are presented with ice cream (wine, sweets, biscuits, crisps) and you will binge.
You can have ice-cream and there is nothing inherently wrong with it - the devil is in the dose.
I would rather that you had ice cream or pizza etc, a couple of times peer week instead of restricting yourself from Monday to Friday afternoon and then going crazy from Friday evening until Monday morning and blowing out your calorie budget.
You must include treats in your diet to increase your adherence.
Thirdly, can you see yourself doing your diet/food approach in a year or 5 years from now?
If not, then you must quit that approach. There is no point in repeating the same behaviours and trying multiple diets every year if none of them are going to stick.
The only caveat to this is if you need to get in shape for a wedding day or photoshoot or something like that and you know that you will go back to a more sustainable method after this goal is achieved.
A fourth tip is that sometimes you just don’t feel motivated to stick with your diet.
Some days you wake up and the last thing you want to do is eat the salad and do the work.
What hopefully happens is that you establish day in and day out routines and build simple habits that keep you on the straight and narrow so when you don’t feel motivated you are almost in cruise control.
Focus on a short list of those habits.
Some people have their ideal healthy day in mind but life always kicks you when you least expect it.
If you can narrow it down to 1-2 habits that could keep your head above water no matter how crazy life gets, then you would be set in the most part in a positive direction.
My minimums are:
These anchors and minimums can keep you on the straight and narrow and help you not to veer off the path completely.
Lastly, the most important tip of sticking with your diet is learning how to deal with lapses.
It is a 100% certainty that you will mess this up, but you will only mess this up if you mess it up.
I know that sounds Irish but follow my logic here.
If you have a bad start to the day and you have 2 slices of raisin toast or a mc muffin breakfast, why is it imperative that you ruin the rest of the day.
Why can't you wipe the slate clean and move on?
It's like saying, "well, I am late for work so I may as well not bother going in".
Nothing in life is a straight line.
We have ups and downs in every area of our lives.
We have good intentions that go out the window at the best of times.
But for some reason people feel that they are not allowed to have these real life things apply to weight management or their diet.
We are always supposed to be on and never stray from our diet, that we are never supposed to have weeks where we gain weight.
This concept of always being on and always being perfect and if you fall off you are done, is toxic to long term success because if you actually look at the graphs of people who lose weight and keep it off, it is never a straight line.
Often times there will be large regains but like any important relationship in life(marriage ups and downs, short fights and long fights) it is time to get over things and move forward.
The most important tip for long term outcomes is how you get over the times when things do not work.
I hope these tips help you to stay on this fitness path for the long term and maintain your results.