It is the start of the New Year, when we typically create some type of resolution. Sticking to a diet is one of the more common resolutions we make. We set goals for ourselves and, hopefully, have something to celebrate about come our next year’s resolution. At any given time in America, there are 108 million of us on a diet and we spend $20 billion a year chasing our six pack abs. Let’s try to make this year different.
Think of diet success as a marathon, not a race. Some of us may feel if we do not see instant weight loss, we have failed. Below are five of the more common reasons diets fail. If you have a better understanding of some of the pitfalls, you may not give up so quickly.
- Hunger Pains: Have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry? You may find yourself grabbing items which do not fit into your diet schedule. The same scenario may play out when you are attending a dinner party or going out to eat at a restaurant. A great way to keep from overeating is to stretch out your caloric intake during the course of a day. *Tip – keep fresh fruit or vegetables around to curb your hunger. Also, the latest recommendation for water consumption is 91 ounces for females and 125 ounces for males. Keep in mind, 20% of our water comes from food. Water will help fight off those hunger pains.
- Planning: Proper meal planning is important to your success. If you plan your meals properly, you will not allow yourself to grow hungry. Also, you will not be wondering “what’s for dinner” every 15 minutes. Some individuals plan their meals daily; others plan a week in advance. Regardless if you are planning for yourself, or an entire family, planning is a solid method for cutting calories. Simply plan your daily meals based off of your recommended caloric intake for the day, the times you want to eat them, and stick to your plan. *Tip – A traditional three meals per day: breakfast, lunch, and diner, may keep you from achieving success. Experts say to have four or five small meals per day. A meal plan will come in useful if you decide to go this route.
- Tracking: Meal tracking is a highly effective way to keep from over eating. Planning is effective, but let’s be honest, you may not stick to your plan. Meal trackers will track not only what you have eaten, but the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat, etc. you eat per day. A meal tracker can be as simple as pen and paper, and as advanced as a mobile app. Also, there are plenty of web sites and computer programs to keep track of your meals. *Tip – tracking every calorie you eat is a hassle, no doubt about it. Even if you say to yourself “I don’t need to track my food,” just try it. Even one week of tracking your food may change your eating habits for the better.
- Supporters and Hijackers: Be it your family and friends, or complete strangers, a good diet support network is very important. A support network can cheer you along and celebrate your success with you. On the other hand, hijackers may sabotage your goals. Hijackers, though they may have best intentions, are used to the “old you” versus the new “diet you”. Know your limits and stick to your plans. One night out drinking per the insistence of a hijacker is fun, but will beating yourself up in the morning be worth it? *Tip – do not become discouraged if a fellow dieter loses weight quickly. Everyone loses weight differently, do not change your plan to theirs and try to achieve quick success. If your plan is working, meaning you are dropping weight no matter how slowly, stick with it! Remember, it’s a marathon.
- Body Rebellion: Chances are your car will not go from 0 to 120 mph. in three seconds. Remember, your body cannot accomplish the same type of results. Starting your diet day one by only eating 100% organic, free-range, gluten-free, tofu and granola will not last very long. If your body is used to eating 3,000+ calories a day, it is going to want 3,000+ calories. When your body stops getting those calories, you may experience: mood swings, mental fatigue, physical fatigue, headaches, irritability, and an upset digestive system. *Tip – We all lose weight differently. Stepping down calories gradually, while increasing your physical activity slowly, may work for some. Eating ten celery sticks 15 times a day may work for other. Find what works best for you. Do not be afraid to tweak your routine if you find something is not working.
Perhaps the biggest pitfall you may encounter is not setting realistic goals. Losing 50 pounds in 20 days is not realistic, nor is it healthy. Though some reality TV shows, like the “Biggest Loser, may tell us doing just that is possible. What those show don’t show us is the contestants subsequent re-gaining of their weight. Set realistic goals, you can always set another once you accomplish the first. Stay your course, keep chugging away, you will win your marathon if you stick with it.