You're trying to eat better. You really want to drop those last (or first) 5 lbs. You know what you're supposed to be doing -- eat protein and veggies with every meal, don't allow yourself to eat past 'full', eat your healthy fats every day and shift your starchy carbs to your post workout meals. But it's not as easy as that, is it?
Easy to say, hard to do. That's the case for most things and consistently choosing a healthy, nutritious diet is right up there on that list. Adherence is tough because there is so much of 'life' that gets in the way of achieving your optimal diet.
Today we are going to talk about 5 surefire strategies to improve your compliance and your results!
Studies have been showing for years that lack of sleep can be correlated to excess weight gain.
And guess what? It's not your fault. You body is designed to respond this way.
Lack of sleep makes you more prone to eat sugary, high calorie foods. It's not just in your head, it's in your brain.
Studies are now showing that lack of sleep reduces function in areas of your brain responsible for telling you when you're hungry, and increases activity in the desire centre of your brain (Amygdala).
When you're sleep deprived or if you carry a large sleep debt, you're more likely to choose sugary-high calorie foods!
Lack of sleep is also going to compromise your muscle recovery, so if you're including resistance training in your fitness/nutrition strategy (which you should be), you're not doing yourself any favours there either.
So get your sleep and make it that much easier to stay on track with your healthy diet.
Set a Goal and Have a "Why":
In order to truly have success you must define what success is to you. That means that you have to set a goal to work towards it. Earl Nightingale's favorite definition of success is "the progressive realization of a worthy ideal" -- ie consistently working towards a goal. You can't have success without a goal.
The secret to having endless amounts of drive and passion for whatever your doing, is making sure you're doing something your passionate about. Yeah, I know, hardly a breakthrough revelation. So how do you turn your daily tuna salad into something you're passionate about?
Easy, you stop thinking about the tuna salad, and start thinking about what that tuna salad means. You have to think of your why! The bigger your reason for trying to build a healthy lifestyle, the more likely you are to stick to the plan.
Any time you feel yourself waver, just think of the reason why you started the process in the first place. Maybe it's being able to play squash with your son on your 50th birthday, fitting in to your (old) favourite pair of jeans or trying to feel younger next year.
Let your 'Why' drive you.
Make it yourself:
If you bake your own favourite treat, you might be surprised to see just how much sugar and fat the recipe calls for. Awareness is the first step towards change so baking your next treat yourself is going to help you know exactly what you're putting in your body.
People much more culinarily gifted than me have come up with a whole slew of healthy alternatives that you can use in your baking to make 'healthier' treats.
Here is an great little infographic from greatist.com that shows a bunch of simple and healthy baking substitutions. Try one of them out the next time you have a cheat day.
Allow Yourself to Cheat:
Unless you're a fitness model you don't need to eat clean 100% of the time. In fact trying to cut out every single 'bad' food in your diet is what leads to 'yo-yo' dieting. You're good for a week or a month but then eventually you break -- and when it rains, it pours!
That's why consciously scheduling time to indulge can be so beneficial. My own strategy is to eat as clean as I can during the week and then allow myself to indulge through the weekend. I don't go crazy on either day, but I will have that cinnamon bun or have pancakes for breakfast with Tiff and Dax -- maybe sneak a bowl of ice cream in in the evening. I find this goes a long way in keeping me on track during the work week.
There are lots of different strategies for scheduling your 'cheat days'. It might be just a cheat meal every few days or week. It might be a full day of indulgence every week or two or it might be once a month.
Let your goals dictate how often you allow yourself to 'cheat' and always use an outcome based approach to ensure you're not overdoing it.
This is a big one. Surrounding yourself with like minded people that are committed to yours and their success is a huge part of being successful. Some people have the mental fortitude to overcome external pressures and power through, but given enough time, most of us break.
Whether it be getting buy in from your wife and kids when you decide to make a change for the better, or finding an accountability partner to help you in times of temptation, having support can be the difference between sticking with healthy choices and falling off the band wagon.
I know this one pretty well myself. It was one of my good friends from university that eventually pushed me to getting in the gym. He and I started to workout together consistently and over the course of 4 years at university we kept each other motivated and driven to get stronger, fitter and work towards our mutual goal of a better physique.
Today my buddy Ryan is busy with Med school and me with parenthood but we still make time to relive some of the best (and worst) times we had together in the gym. Some of the most rewarding memories were from days when one or the other didn't have the motivation but the other pushed past it and we had a great workout.
Now, for the past two years Joel and I have been workout partners, and it's his dedication to his fitness and nutrition that drives me when I feel my motivation flag. There's also the negative reinforcement side, I feel like I've let myself down when I miss a workout because I'm busy at work and Joel still makes time to get down to the gym.
It doesn't matter if it's fitness, nutrition, a new skill -- having someone supporting and going through the same process as you is a massive mental benefit that can help you push past the points where you feel like quitting.
Compliance is the number one reason why people have success with any type of healthy eating. Being able to 'stick with it' is all about finding the strategies that make consistently practicing the steps you know you need to take easier.
Remove some of the major obstacles in the way of your own success with these 5 proven strategies and reap the benefits.
Live your Best Life!