A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day and it really got me thinking. Why do we tend to have this mentality that we have go overboard on all the foods we think we can't have on a diet right before the diet begins? Why do we think we have to start on Monday? Why can't we start right now, today? And why can't we take a more moderate approach and still enjoy the foods we love while still losing weight and gaining muscle?
And I've been guilty of this same mentality. I once tried the Whole30 challenge (super strict whole foods only challenge --- no grains, dairy, peanuts, sugar, etc.), and what do you think I did the night before Day 1? You guessed it, ate all the foods I wouldn't be able to eat during the challenge. (face palm) And guess how long I lasted on the challenge? 5 days. :-P
I wish more people realized that moderation, although not sexy, hardcore, or terribly complex, can still bring about efficient fat loss. Even better, that it's a true lifestyle change, not a diet that you're either on or off of. No more dieter's mentality of deprivation and super-low calories and carbs.
Ironclad willpower just doesn't make an appearance overnight, and no one, no matter how dedicated and disciplined, is perfect with their eating. Trying to do that is a lesson in frustration and defeat. As fat loss expert Leigh Peele says, "Depending on willpower is like depending on the lottery."
Fo' realz, yo. Leave that dry chicken breast and broccoli shit to the figure competitors. You have better things to do than stress about being perfect in the pursuit some arbitrary goal of body "perfection." You have an awesome life to lead. :-)
Here are 6 tactics for making your fat loss phase a little less sucky and tricky:
One of my nutritional goals is to eat a #BAS (Big Ass Salad) most days of the week. If I eat zero produce the rest of the day, at least I'll have gotten in several servings of veggies in that one meal. Although I do try to eat fruit and veggies throughout the day, sometimes it's not possible or I don't have much of an appetite. Filling up on veggies is a two-fold bonus --- lots of nutrition in few calories, plus the high water and fiber content helps with satiety. Plus, I make really good salads. ;-)
2. Have Protein Bar, Will Travel.
I love my Think Thin and Quest Bars (did someone say chocolate?) Some days I'm away from the house and instead of being at the mercy of whatever food is around me (fast food, bar food, etc.), I'll turn to a protein bar that I almost always have in my purse. There have been too many times when I'm out and about for longer than expected, and I had to eat food that wasn't conducive to my goals and really didn't even taste that great. Sometimes I'll pack beef jerky, an apple, or one of those 100-calorie packs of nuts. Just enough food to tide me over till I can get home to a healthy home-cooked meal.
3. Cheat a little.
I got this "preemptive cheats" tactic from my mentor, Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques. I'm the kind of person who, as much as I love healthy food, feels deprived and cranky if I can't have a little treat each day. Sure, I could tough it out for awhile if I absolutely had to, but why bother? You don't get extra points for being super strict, and it can even backfire in the form of a huge cheat meal or binge later or just making worse choices later on in the day.
Unless you have dietary restrictions because of an allergy or sensitivity, or are doing a pro figure competition, let yourself have a little break a few times a week to keep the process a little easier. Some of my preemptive cheats include: dark chocolate, Lara Bars, frozen yogurt, half & half in my coffee (or even sugar free creamer or syrup sometimes --- the horror!), nut butter, and baked chips. The key is to eat a modest portion and skip anything that's a trigger food for you that makes it hard stop at a reasonable serving.
4. Find Satisfying Alternatives.
It's a common misconception that you have to give up all your favorite foods when you're dieting down. No more pizza, ice cream, lasagna, burgers, or French fries. You can definitely fit those treats in your diet in moderation, but you can also find suitable alternatives that still leave you satisfied and not deprived.
I like to look on SkinnyTaste.com for health-ified versions of my favorites or I'll find a lower-cal, lower-carb version to sub in. My faves include Skinny Cow Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches, Stonyfield Organic Nonfat Frozen Yogurt (After Dark Chocolate is the bomb), Nuts 'n More protein-infused peanut butter (Toffee Crunch is my jam), and Simply Lite Low Carb chocolate bars. Are these choices perfectly healthy? Nope. But they taste good enough that I am perfectly satisfied for fewer calories and less sugar and fat. They prevent me from wanting to clear out my pantry or head to Dairy Queen for an Oreo Blizzard in order to appease my cravings.
5. In Sight, In Mind.
Just as keeping junk food out of sight helps with resisting its temptations, keeping the healthy stuff out on the countertop helps to increase consumption. It's a gentle nudge towards better eating and keeps the good stuff at top of mind when the munchies hit.
6. Make up Your Mind.
Salad with grilled chicken? Steak with a side of steamed veggies? You'll be surprised at how much easier it is to order when you already have made the decision on what to eat ahead of time. Once you've made up your mind, you're much less likely to be tempted by every other item on the menu. Need a little help with ordering? I've got you covered with my Eat Out Like a Boss guide. <--- click for free PDF download
Now, these are just some of the strategies that I use, but they may or may not work as well for you. You have to experiment and find out what is best for you, and that takes time. You will make mistakes and have days when you go overboard, but that is how we learn. That's just something that everyone goes through. And that will ultimately make us more successful in the future in not only losing the weight, but keeping it off.
I wanna hear from you! What are your strategies for making better choices? Head on over to my Facebook page and share with the community.