If you've ever tried to lose weight you'll know that feeling at the start when you’re super motivated and can’t wait to get going. You make good initial progress but it's not long before the diet begins to takes its toll. The foods you really want become difficult to resist and your self-control is pushed to its limit.
Many people give up on their diet after a few weeks. In some cases, it's a matter of just days. If you've ever uttered the words ''I'll start again on Monday'' you'll know how tedious and frustrating the whole process can be. And just how much discipline is required to see any kind of decent results.
If you're relying on willpower alone to help you lose weight it's highly likely that you'll fail.
This is because willpower is a limited resource. You wake with a finite amount and every decision you make, no matter how small, puts a strain on it.
Think of willpower as a muscle:
• It gets weaker if you overuse it
• It diminishes without adequate rest
• It's harder to use when you're hungry or low on energy
Every choice during the day depletes your self-control reserves. Which explains why so many people ''break their diet'' and give in to temptation during the evening.
Fun Quiz Time!
Have a go at the question below - but don't cheat! Take a guess before you reveal the answer.
Even a seemingly unrelated task that requires self-control can have an adverse effect on your diet goals. For example, an argument with your partner or boss that calls for you to bite your tongue will chip away at your willpower. This can leave you with less energy to override later impulses.
Instead of relying on willpower to lose weight it's better to create an environment that gives you the best opportunity for success.
This article includes 11 tips you can start using right away to help you finally get the weight loss you desire.
If you want to put an end to starting over all the time the information below is all you need. The advice will help to improve your self-control and build better habits so your willpower is available to you when you need it the most.
Implement as many as you can. If you make them part of your everyday routine you'll give yourself the best chance of getting long-term results you can be proud of!
Once you build a routine you begin to form a habit. And habits do not require willpower.
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Control as much of your home environment as you can. Make good choices easier by keeping healthy food visible. Have a fruit bowl on the counter at eye level. Keep all junk food in a single cupboard, ideally the most awkward one to access. The thought process here is very much ''out of sight, out of mind''.
If you're the type of person who can't stop at a single slice of cake or a couple of biscuits, then it's probably wise to remove all of the highly palatable foods from your house. At least to begin with.
You should include the things you love in your diet but if a few bites are likely to trigger a binge you're just making things unnecessarily harder for yourself.
Instead, enjoy them while you're out and about. That way you're much less likely to go back for 2nd or 3rd portions. Or even 4th's?? We've all done it!
Despite what you may believe you don't need to eat as little as possible to lose weight. If you restrict your calories by too much you'll end up feeling tired and irritable and won't be able to function properly. Then it's only a matter of time before it all feels too hard and you give up.
Likewise, you shouldn't eliminate the foods you love entirely. You'll only want them even more which could result in a binge. It's not uncommon for a week's worth of dieting and hard work to be undone in just 1 meal.
Figure out which foods you can't live without and build your diet around them. As a guideline, aim to get 80-90% of your calories from whole food sources and use the remaining on whatever you like.
I'll preface this by saying that eating out should be an enjoyable experience so if you do overindulge a little, don’t worry about it. Just ensure you get back on track the following day.
If you'd like to keep your calories in check while dining out, here are the ways to minimise the potential damage to your waistline:
• Reduce your calories during the day, or the week, leading up to your night out
• Check the menu in advance for healthier options so you know your order before you arrive
• Don’t turn up to the restaurant hungry. Have a high protein snack and some water an hour beforehand
• Enjoy yourself and savour every bite. Be mindful that it's just 1 meal and you're in this for the long game
This may seem obvious but if you food shop on an empty stomach you're going to make poor choices. Before you hit the supermarket ensure you get something IN your belly. That way you'll find it easier to stay OUT of the confectionary aisle.
Before giving in to the temptation of the vending machine or office cakes, stop and consider if you're actually hungry. You may just be bored, eating for the sake of it, or using food to procrastinate.
Do something else for 10 minutes and then see if you still want what you were craving. More often than not the feeling will pass and you'll feel better for resisting.
Our brains can mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger, so use water to curb those cravings. Always have some close by to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day. If plain water doesn't do it for you, try adding a slice of orange, lemon, or lime.
Good quality shut-eye is vital if you're trying to lose weight. A bad night's sleep can mess up your entire day with many negative impacts:
• Heightened Stress Levels
• Increased Hunger and Cravings
• Decrease in Willpower
• Lack of Focus
• Low Energy
If your willpower is being tested from the minute you wake it's inevitable those pesky cravings will get the better of you.
If you need to be up early, adjust your bedtime accordingly. Ask yourself if you really need to watch another Netflix episode? If you’re in bed by 10pm that 6am alarm won’t feel as brutal so save the boxsets for the weekend and aim for 6-8 hours every night.
If you'd like more tips on how to get a great night's kip check out my 'Sleep Like A Baby' article here.
Making a temporary change is one of the biggest diet mistakes that people make. After finishing a diet it's easy to slip back into the eating habits that caused the weight gain to begin with. To break the frustrating cycle of yo-yo results stop thinking of a diet as a short-term fix.
A diet is not a meal plan that you implement for a few weeks. The word diet refers to the type of food we habitually eat. It's a way of life. If you start to view it as a permanent lifestyle change, then you'll begin to see real results.
Continuing from point 8, the best piece of advice for anyone starting a weight loss plan is to be patient!
After a few weeks, it's natural for your progress to slow down. While this is part of the process, it's hard not to feel deflated as you put in the same amount of effort but for little return. During this period many people quit. Please don't! The magic happens after you break through this plateau.
Stick with your plan. Do not give up, switch to a different programme, or tell yourself that you'll never be able to get the results you want. Be consistent with your training and nutrition and your progress will soon take off again.
Keep in mind: It didn’t take you a couple of weeks to get out of shape, so don’t expect to get back in shape in the same amount of time.
A complete fitness and diet overhaul can work for some, but for most people it will only make things more difficult and result in overwhelm. To prevent yourself from quitting before you've given it a proper go, know that it's ok to start small.
Begin by substituting out some unhealthy food choices for better ones and aim for 1 or 2 short workouts a week. Once you're comfortable, learn how to make some recipes from scratch and look to increase your exercise frequency. If you start slowly and build momentum, you’ll be more likely to succeed.
Get out of the mindset of throwing in the towel after 1 chocolate bar or doughnut. It's just 200-300 calories out of your entire daily allowance. You haven't ''broken your diet'' or ''messed up''. You've just eaten a tasty snack that you fancied having.
Do not write off the whole day because of 1 treat. Think of it like this. If you lost £10 on the way to work would you throw away the rest of your week's wages?
Weight loss is never in a straight line. If your diet plans go a bit wonky every now and again that's ok. It just means you're human. Don’t dwell on it or get stressed. Forgive yourself, move on, and get back on track as soon as possible.
There are many reasons why people give up their diets. The 11 tips here will help you to build better habits to overcome the most common ones.
Take your time. Results happen over the course of months or even years, not days and weeks like much of the fitness will have you believe.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you treat yourself to a high-calorie snack or meal, just enjoy it, move on, and get back on the wagon the very next day.
Think of the bigger picture. If you know what to expect you can embrace the challenges along the way.
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