How to Stick to a Diet

One of the hardest things about dieting is sticking to a diet.  There are hundreds  if not thousands of diet books and dieting programs with specific instructions.   But to truly evaluate the efficacy of a diet is how well you can stick to its specific guidelines and directions. But it’s not that simple. Sticking to a diet is more than just following the instructions, you need to select a realistic diet plan, you need the right motivational factors, careful planning, adjustments to your lifestyle, establishing a routine and removing barriers that would only slow you down.

Pick a Realistic Diet Plan

healthy food measuring tapeThere are thousands of diet plans out there. Some promise the moon and the skies and others are so outrageous you’d have to be crazy to try. But there are many legitimate and safe diet plans that helped many people lose and keep weight off. Generally, you’ll want to avoid diets that are:

  • All about hype – avoid crazy fad or celebrity diets. Most of these produce only short-term results and are unsustainable.  You’ll gain weight back as fast you lost it. These diets are easy to spot. They appear on daytime TV, are sold via infomercials and peddled by celebrities that can’t get any other legitimate type of work. These diets typically focus on some extreme regiment, secret ingredients or obsessing over one activity or type of food.
  • Sound too good to be true – ever hear statements such as “Lose 15lbs a month just by eating cookies” or “Lose 12 inches in just 2 weeks with our smoothies?”  Not only does it sound too good to be true, but you can bet it’s unhealthy and unsustainable. If it sounds too go to be true, it probably is. Skip diets that make such claims.

At the end of that of the day everyone is different, what worked for one person may not necessarily work for another.  If you’re starting from scratch, focus on trying a diet plan:

  • that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle
  • encourages other healthy habits, such as exercise and sleep
  • produces realistic results, keyword REALISTIC
  • has a variety of and easily accessible nutrient sources
  • doesn’t depend on one type of food
  • doesn’t demand excessive calorie restrictions
  • backed by scientific research
  • doesn’t depend on additional supplements, pills or powders

Once you find a plan to try, you need to summon the motivation and keep motivated to follow through.

Find Your Motivation

We diet for a variety of reasons.  Maybe our doctor told us to, or we have a big event coming up or we’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Even when the doctors tell us that our weight is getting out of control and we need to start eating healthy it is still up to us to find motivation to make changes to our diets, and lifestyle. The scare of associated diseases and illnesses of being overweight could be enough motivation for some but for others they have to look elsewhere.  Some people will just look in the mirror and that will be enough for them to do something about it. Others may need a support group or a buddy to get them motivated and keep them going. Some are motivated by people they admire who’ve overcome great personal and health challenges. Whatever your source of motivation you need to keep it in your back-pocket. Literally or figuratively. And remind yourself constantly why you’re on this journey.

Plan It

Failure to plan is planning to fail

– Winston Churchill

Generals plan. Athletes plan. Coaches plan. Sport teams plan. Businesses plan. Everyone plans. You need to plan as well. Whatever diet plan you choose. Read ahead and plan ahead. Planning will will allow you to gather necessary ingredients and food, remove barriers and establish a blueprint for your daily and weekly routines.  But most importantly it will amplify your ability to stick to the diet.

Establish a Routine

Establishing routines will help you form new healthy habits and your body will respond accordingly. One thing you’ll definitely notice is when you fall out of routine. Your body will start showing adverse effects. My current routine involves a 5am wake up call, followed by a cup of coffee and planning for the rest of the day. Within an hour of waking I’ll also be on my to the gym. Sometimes on the weekends this routine is disrupted  but if I don’t return to it on Monday morning, I’ll feel it throughout the day. If I miss my morning workout less than a handful of times in a row I’ll start feeling sluggish. But that’s a typical body reaction. However, your mind is a powerful things and it will also start playing tricks on you. For me, for example, I start feeling like there’s something missing or I’m forgetting something.  This is very distracting and demotivating.  So I focus on sticking to my morning routine as much as possible.

Having a routine yields many benefits. It will simplifying your life, make planning easier and conserve valuable personal energy.  Review your current lifestyle and see how you can build a healthy routine around it.

Make it Fit Your Lifestyle

girl holding healthy foods and a dumbbellIt’s easier to follow through on your diet when it’s already part of your lifestyle. It requires no effort and you don’t have to go out of your way just to get the right nutrients in. Review your typical daily and weekly routines. Write it out if you have to. Like a jigsaw puzzle break up your diet components and see how you can fit them into your lifestyle.  You should have no problem fitting a  a good sound diet into your lifestyle.  Avoid diets that have outrageous demands, such waking up in the middle of the night to feed.

Remove Barriers

Don’t put up any obstacles for yourself. Take down barriers already there. You need to create an environment with no room for excuses.  The easiest place to start is purging your cupboards of junk. When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, then it’s out of your tummy. Make your diet’s suggested foods readily available. Another common barrier is the time it takes to prepare each meal. Remove that barrier and prepare most if not all your meals in advance. Pick a day during the week to prepare your meals and freeze them. Then all you have to do is defrost it and reheat it. These are obvious and easiest obstacles to tackle. But there are many others such as addressing negatives attitudes, stress, and sleep issues.

Track It

Keeping a food diary is a great way to track your progress and bring awareness to amount and types of foods you consume on daily basis.  It forces you to reflect and make better choices next time.  Writing everything down maybe be difficult due to lack of time, no proper journal format and other obstacles. But you can toss those excuses out the window as there are smart phone apps that allow you to quickly enter foods and keep track of nutrients you consume with just a couple of clicks or swipes across the screen.  That’s the easy part. But you’ll need to get into a habit of reviewing your daily and weekly nutritional intake and evaluate what needs to to be cut out, what nutrients you need more of and adjust your food intake accordingly in future meals.

Without a doubt, sticking to a diet is hard. There are many reasons why we quit halfway through, but there are several strategies you could deploy to ensure greater chances of success. Start by picking out a realistic diet plan and avoid all that sound too goo to be true.  Once you find a diet you’ll need to fin good sources of motivation, and keep them in your back pocket or back of your mind.  Always reminding yourself why you’re on this journey.  Be sure to plan your diet to establish routines and embed it into your lifestyle leaving little room for excuses.  Eliminate other excuses by taking down barriers that could hamper your progress.  And finally, get in the habit of tracking your progress. Record. Review. Optimize.