Currently on a diet or recently decided to get in shape? Congratulations on taking the first steps. This can be a very exciting time, but also confusing and daunting as well. There are so many options out there; the marketplace is flooded with fad diets, exercise gurus and products. Making smart and thoughtful decisions about the quality and quantity of the food you eat is a large part of becoming the healthier version of yourself.
Although you may be tempted to just dive right in, your success rate will dramatically increase if you prepare for your fitness journey. After all, statics show that only 5-10% of dieters are successful at keeping the weight off long term. This means that those who cannot maintain their weight loss have chosen diets that are not sustainable, received improper guidance and/or lack the knowledge of nutrition, and the physiology of how the body works. The good news is your sense of excitement and motivation will help fuel your efforts.
The following are some of the most common reasons for why diet and exercise plans fail, preventing you from becoming the happier and healthier you.
- Fad diets are not sustainable and can even be unhealthy. Many are meant as quick fixes for temporary weight loss and the loss is often just water weight. One size does not fit all, as everyone has different needs, sensitivities and allergies. We don’t live in a vacuum; many diets are very restrictive. By limiting ones’ diet to eating only say, soups or juicing, is just not practical, long term. Diets that eliminate all carbs or fats, is not healthy, as they are essential to your health and ability to fuel your body. Vegetarian and Vegan diets are great, if you understand what it means. It is not for everyone, especially if you can’t make the commitment or you replace animal products with unhealthy food choices such white bread, regular pasta, and other packaged processed foods.
- Not having defined goals. Dieting is more than just figuring out what you should or shouldn’t eat. The ideal diet must be paired with realistic, achievable goals that are measurable. Make a list with long and short term goals along with the plans on how to achieve them.
- Lack of body knowledge. Knowledge is power, having the information and understanding of your body composition (weight, body fat, BMI, body water, protein, minerals, etc.) and where you are now in terms of your health, should be your starting point; essential for goal setting. Biologically, diets slow down the metabolism, thus slowing weight loss. Dieting sends the body into “survival mode”, this is an evolutionary condition that is meant to protect us from starvation/death. The body experiences dieting as a stressor; when we’re stressed, we produce high-levels of cortisol and adrenaline (the stress hormones). These hormones cause our body to slow down the rate at which we burn calories and store fat.
- Expectation of being perfect or an overnight success. While many people aspire to achieve perfection, life can get in the way! So, to avoid disappointment, strive instead for 70-90% “perfection” in keeping up your diet and fitness plan. You can start off by allowing for as many as 4-5 “cheat meals” per week, then reducing them as you become acclimated to dieting. Cheat meals are better than a cheat day because they may turn into multiple cheat days, then weeks and so on. It is much easier to get back on track after a meal or two then days or weeks. If you know you have a wedding, dinner date or family get together coming up, you can use those occasions for your “cheat meals”. Making a mistake or having a “cheat meal” has no impact on your long-term eating habits. You won’t get it right all the time. After all, you didn’t put the weight on yesterday, or suddenly become less fit overnight. So, give yourself a break, don’t get frustrated, or beat yourself up, just get back on that preverbal horse.
- Not having a balanced approach to diet and exercise. By placing too much emphasis on either diet or physical fitness while neglecting the other will hamper your success; your results and progress will suffer. Studies show that the most effective way to best personal trainers near me help your body build lean mass and lose fat is through regular strength training AND a nutritious diet.
- Ignoring the psychology of overeating. It is important to put emphasis on why, when and where you eat, as there is a lot to be said about the emotional and psychological reasons for overeating. Keeping a food journal notating what food you ate, when, where and how you felt is very helpful for accountability and allows you to track the possible reasons for successes or weaknesses. By creating a positive relationship with food and the body, we support our biology and psychology to generate the best conditions for reaching our ideal weight. For first time dieters, or those who have never had an issue before, the expectation of turning into health nuts overnight is not realistic. If you don’t enjoy what you eat and how you eat, then weight loss will be a never-ending battle. The more you know in terms of nutrition, body composition, and health issues, will give you the edge in being able to clearly define your goals and how to achieve them. Making the journey easier and more pleasurable.