Pretty much everyone can recall a time when their best intention to stick with a diet & exercise regime weakened and failed. I’d be willing to be it’s happened to you more than once, especially if you have been a player in the diet and exercise game.
Being fat and failing to stay on your diet feels like a personal defeat. It is embarrassing to imagine people thinking, “She has no Willpower“…”She’s a fat ass that eats too much“…”She can’t control himself”.
The worst thing is that you may believe these things yourself. But you are WRONG Girl… Wrong! Here’s why:
Depending on willpower to sustain you through a diet and fitness program is like jumping out of an airplane with a handkerchief for a parachute.
Evolution is Against You.
The problem is that when you set out to get fit and lose a significant amount of weight, you are actually forcing your body to do something that it has been designed to resist.
At the most basic level, evolution is against you. Since the dawn of mankind, our physiology has developed mechanisms to conserve precious energy. In earlier times, loss of bodyweight was always a potential threat to survival and as a result, our body’s immediate response to a reduced caloric intake (a diet) is to slow its metabolic rate and store fat. It thinks you’re in a FAMINE and starving to death, so it’s main objective will be to store fat so you have calories to survive until your next meal.
To compound the problem, physically depriving yourself of energy quickly leads to a deep, systemic urge to eat that is impossible to deny.
To add insult to injury, social and emotional factors come into play to further test your already weakened resolve. In time, be it three days, three weeks or three months, your diet plan will eventually crash and burn.
It is clear that willpower is no match for nature; however, there are proven strategies you can easily learn that are far more effective and reliable.
Create Systems and Habits.
It is not enough to simply decide to “eat less” or “completely cut out junk food” or to just pick a new “life sucking diet” from the long list available.
You must understand exactly why you are doing this in the first place. Ask yourself:
Why did you decide to change your diet and lifestyle?
What rewards are waiting for you once you hit your goal?
Precisely how you will handle every detail of your exercise and nutrition regime?
Who will be your supporters?
How will you manage the internal and external saboteurs that lie in wait to defeat you?
If you are able to use systems that later develop into habits, you command powerful tools that replace and eventually eliminate any dependence on willpower.
Here are some examples to get you on your way. You can easily use your imagination to customize these and also design new ones to meet your needs.
1. Use a structured eating plan. If you are not completely confident that you understand what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet and that you can design a plan to consume enough calories so that you lose no more than one or two pounds a week, buy a session with a registered dietitian, health coach, or fitness trainer. This knowledge will last you a lifetime and puts you way ahead of all the other “dieters” out there.
2. Avoid Hunger. Plan what you are going to eat for the entire day in advance, three small meals and two or three decent snacks. Don’t get caught short, starving with nothing to eat. Buy a small, insulated cool-pack, stock it with snacks and always have it with you. Eat a meal or a snack every three hours at least when you start. Allow yourself one “anything I want meal” each week; enjoy two when you are on track and losing steadily. Schedule them and write it down. Don’t start with a fasting protocol such as intermittent fasting right off the bat. This is only going to keep you hungry and your body will urge you to eat until you finally cave. This can be added later down the road to boost your fat loss but not right from the start.
3. Always include some exercise. Walking is a good start; jog if you are able. Easy and simple is best at least when your starting because it builds habit and won’t be so difficult to stick too; save the tough stuff for when you are in shape and exercise is a habit. When you get to this point, for added fat loss benefits try HIIT running. Jog/run for 1 minute, walk for 2 minutes (6-8 sets). It’ll take you about 20-30 minutes but you will continue to burn fat for hours after the workout accelerating your results. Do this 3 times a week and you’ll have a solid cardio plan. Schedule your exercise in advance and log exactly what you do. Always remember, doing something is a thousand percent better than doing nothing.
4. Get a partner to join you; at the very least, show and explain your plan to someone and ask for their support. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals in writing and have your supporter hold you accountable. If you make your goal, they take you out to dinner. If you fail, you buy them dinner.
5. Create a vision. Sitting in a quiet place, relax and visualize exactly how you will look and feel and enjoy life more when you have reached your goal. Make a movie in your head; make it in color with sounds, smells and actions. Look at yourself in the movie and then write a list of ten or twelve adjectives that describe how you look and behave. Describe yourself physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Envision and repeat: I am (your description). Do this at least three times a day and whenever you are feeling stressed, overworked, tired, angry, nervous or afraid. It sounds Woo Woo but trust and believe it does work to keep you focused and motivated towards your goals.
Strategies like this do three things for you.
They help you avoid circumstances that lead to bad lifestyle choices in the first place.
They help create an environment that is conducive to making healthy lifestyle choices a habit, simply a natural part of your routine.
They build motivation and a correct mental attitude that is the essential first step to achieving weight loss, health, and well-being.
When you have systems and habits working for you in place of unreliable willpower, success is much easier. A fitness plan that does not include this kind of an approach is usually doomed to failure before it begins.