Remember the last time you were getting ready to hop on the train to resultsville with a new diet routine? If you are like me then I know you were hyped up, excited, and a little nervous all at the same time. So, when we fall off the wagon quickly the emotional struggle to maintain our sanity and positive attitude is just in a downward spiral to “not caring”. This also tends to happen if we are successful with the diet for the time being, but when it’s over we just can’t seem to hold on to those results we worked so hard to achieve. Now we have to decide to just live with it, ignore that the results are gone, or go back on the same diet that got me the results the last time even though we know they didn’t stick around for as long as we wanted.
The Real Reasons Your Diet Failed You
Yes, you read that correctly. I didn’t say you failed your diet, I said your diet failed you. Why? because it’s really hard to pass something that was set up for failure in the first place. That would be like blaming your kid for missing the bus to school when the bus in fact never actually came to pick them up. Got it? OK, now let’s get into the three reasons your diet failed so you don’t make the same mistakes over and over.
You Tried To Change Everything All At Once.
If you are following a diet you found online, in a book, magazine, or from a day time doctors TV show they usually ask you to make some pretty radical changes. These changes aren’t always technically or scientifically “bad” or misinformed, but they are radical when you compare them with what you have been doing on your own. The problem is these changes seem pretty small or easy, and at face value do not resemble something you would consider as radical. A lot of times we see the instructions and say “Oh that’s pretty easy” or ” Yeah, I can do that no problem” without really thinking about how drastic those few words would be on your day-to-day habits, routines, and life not usually associated with a health or fitness goal.
As an example, if you are someone who doesn’t eat breakfast in the morning on a daily basis then specific instructions telling you to eat an omelet with eat 2 whole eggs, 2 egg whites, 1/2 cups of red pepper, green pepper, onion and 1/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese with a 2 cups of raw spinach salad. Drink 24 ounces of water and no coffee. This one meal change is HUGE because you now have to plan time during your day to buy these items, budget for buying these items in enough quantity to have every morning, get up earlier to prep, cook food, and clean dishes every day which might mean going to sleep earlier the night before. Now you have done all this extra work in the morning that you normally would never do and you can’t even have a cup of coffee because the program says so. So, that one simple breakfast has now disrupted your lifestyle in a major way.
Now imagine grouping this “Having an omelet for breakfast every day”with other “simple” changes like drink a gallon of water a day, get 9 hours of sleep, no food past 8pm, fast for 16 hours overnight, no carbs for dinner, don’t eat today, only have a protein shake for lunch etc.
Instead of changing all of them at the same time(which would require a major lifestyle overhaul) try to see if you can be successful with one of them or even one component of what seems to be a simple change. If you try to change them all at once it’s like trying to carry too many large boxes down a flight of stairs. You might be good for a step or two, but a box will shift, you will fall trying to save it from crashing to the floor and end up a sad disaster at the bottom.
It Was Way Too Strict.
Are you this Gandhi or Cesar Chavez restricting your diet so fiercely for the purpose of non violent protest? I know you are not so, why are you putting so many restrictions on your diet plan?
Let me take a step back, and explain why being so strict is always going to lead to failure of some kind. Let’s talk about work days vs. days off of work.
How many hours a week could you willingly work(without overtime pay or vacations) over your normal full-time 40 hour work week, and how long do you think you could do that before you reach your physical/emotional breaking point of exhaustion? Could you work 20 hour days, 7 days a week everyday for the rest of the year? Could you do it for 3 weeks? Could you do it a week? You might be able to do it for a short time and survive, but if you stick with it you will hit your end point and eventually burn out.
Being so strict or restrictive with you diet style and choices are the same thing as the work example above. It falls under the same cliché “all work and no play makes blank(insert your name) a dull boy or girl.
You should be 100% compliant with your diet at least 80% of the time. Believe it or not, maintaining your own SANITY is a vital component to a successful lifestyle diet that does not lead to falling off the wagon or a harmful rebound. You need to find a way to balance the positive changes associated with a new diet as well as the ability to live a happy life in a way you want to live. Maybe eating that one piece of cake after you ate your healthy lunch on Monday keeps you from eating 40 Chicken Mcnuggets, large fry, Sprite and 4 Mcafe Apple pies for dinner everyday on the weekend after “being good” all week. If you find yourself routinely bingeing or craving foods then you need to re-work some of those items into your food choices in order to reduce incidences of bingeing.
You Focused On The Wrong Stuff For Your Goals.
If you set a goal to get up earlier everyday which do you think would be to focus on, setting an alarm or drinking coffee with breakfast in the morning? While the coffee with breakfast might help you feel more awake it still relies on you to wake up! So, it might seem like coffee could help you in the mission to get up earlier it still misses the more important factor you need to take care of first. What I am trying to say is that if you don’t take care of the simple, and sometimes overtly obvious stuff first then it doesn’t matter what little extra stuff you do to help get an edge.
What that means for your diet and goals is you need to pay more attention to things like finding out how many calories you need to eat in order to lose fat and not muscle? Or how many calories you need to eat in order to build muscle and not gain fat? Those two questions are far more important to those two goals than only buying foods that are organic, avoiding red meat, going vegan, going low carb, going gluten-free, buying protein supplements, buying pre workouts and fat burners(fat burners are bullshit by the way), doing more cardio or any other health fad that is circling your media space. If you don’t solve that problem first it’s like adding more air into your flat tire and expecting the tire to fix the hole for you.
Let me ask you a question. If you didn’t know Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division would it be a good idea to take a college level algebra course?
Probably not, right? It would be too advanced for you to understand anything that goes on in the classroom and while you could say you took the class you would fail and leave the same way you went in. Wouldn’t it be smarter to learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide and demonstrate your ability to use them before you register to take the algebra class?
So, with that being said don’t you think it would be smart to learn how much you need to eat and then demonstrate with frequent consistency that you can eat said appropriate amount before going into more advanced dietary protocols, like carb back loading, paleo, ketogenic, intermittent fasting, meal timing around workouts, meal sizes, massive weekly meal prep, how many meals a day or any other new diet fad that’s around? Again, you might be able to say you have used or are using it, but if you are eating 16,000 calories a day trying to lose fat it doesn’t matter if you are doing any of those “cool new diet plans” for fat loss. If you don’t it’s like trying to build a house without a foundation…eventually it’s going to crumble.
The Moral of the Story
If you want to try some of the cool new stuff for some possible extra/additional help with your goal you need to at least master the non-glamorous, non-sexy, hardly ever talked about, overshadowed basics first. If you can do that then I guarantee that you will successfully reach your goal and you won’t fall off the wagon so hard that you need to start over. You see how they are all labeled with “1’s!” next to them? Yeah, that’s because they are all equally important factors you need to take in consideration when either choosing to follow a certain diet program or try to make lifestyle adjustments to your already existing diet. My advice to you is to pick one and only one of those three and plug it into your current or previous diet to make it better for you.
Ok, Last one. Remember you first learned to wiggle your arms and legs before you learned to crawl, and before you learned to run you had to learn how to walk.
Be patient…we’ve got this!