Track your calories, eat in a deficit, train with weights and the pounds will melt away, right?
The whole weight loss thing turns out to be more difficult than you thought. The scale doesn’t seem to be moving and you’re frustrated.
Here are the top 5 mistakes you’re making with your diet and what to do instead.
Mistake #1: Not Food Prepping
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard you need to cook meals in advance. You still aren’t doing it. Every time the weekend comes around, something happens. You go out with some friends on a Saturday night for drinks or you get invited out on Sunday morning and meal prep gets skipped. You then go into the week trying to grab food while you’re on the run and in an emotional state. You pick bad food choices, skip meals, binge eat while watching Netflix and you blow out your calorie deficit.
If you aren’t taking the time to meal prep once or twice a week then you’re setting yourself up for failure. When you see the pics of meal prep on Instagram there are 30 containers stacked on a kitchen bench with a caption saying “all prepped for the week”.
That shit is overwhelming and it’s no wonder you don’t want to do it.
What to Do Instead: Here’s some good news. Food prep doesn’t have to be long and tedious. You can make your meal prep take less than an hour if you buy the following items
- A rotisserie chicken and cut it into quarters
- Single serving Chobani greek yoghurts
- Canned fish
- Frozen vegetable single serve packets
- Sweet potato
- Pre-cut salads
Eggs and sweet potatoes will need to be cooked. You can boil them on a stove top while you cut your chicken quarters into 4 different containers. Keep your frozen vegetables at home and in the freezer at work. You can take your yoghurt and canned fish with you wherever you go and there’s not much more to it. Portable ready to eat food is a godsend and makes meal prep quick and easy.
Mistake #2: Lack Of Patience
Imagine you wanted to plant an apple tree. You go to the store to buy some seeds and you plant them in your backyard. You water the tree daily and make sure it gets plenty of sunlight. After one week you notice that there are no apples and the seeds have barely even sprouted. You decide there’s something wrong with the tree and you throw it away.
That sounds crazy, right?
Yet that’s exactly what you do with your diet and workout program. You can’t wake up after a week of eating well and expect to have abs. You live in a world of instant gratification. Food gets delivered to your door with the touch of a button and Instagram makes everyone looks like a Greek god.
Yet real life and results don’t happen at the push of a button. You’ve been eating whatever you want and slacking on your exercise for years and you can’t expect to turn your life around in a matter of weeks. This is going to be a long-term game and results come from repeating the same actions day by day for months at a time before you start to see real results.
What To Do Do Instead: Don’t keep jumping from diet to diet or workout routine to workout routine. Pick something and stick to it for at least four weeks before making any changes.
Mistake #3: Not Changing Your Environment
Willpower is only going to get you so far. You’re not going to be able to say no all the time and you’re going to give in to temptations. What you want to do is reduce the chances of that happening by changing your environment.
Start with your house. What foods do you have that cause you to binge? Is it ice cream, chocolate or Doritos? Whatever those trigger foods are, make sure to get rid of them now! You may not eat them today or tomorrow but you know that you’re eventually going to give in and eat the whole damn thing. So keep it out of the house to avoid it happening at all.
Do the same thing at work. Talk to your colleagues and ask them not to offer you treats or snacks. If your desk is in arms reach of a jar of cookies, move the damn cookies somewhere else.
What To Do Instead: The more you can cut out things that need willpower will help you stay on track. This also means you have to speak to your friends and family. It’s going to be a tough conversation but if you don’t have it with them, they’re going to keep offering your treats or convince you to come to happy hour. Work on changing your environment and asking the people around you to be supportive.
Mistake #4: Starting Again On Monday
How many times have you made a mistake during the middle of the week and think you’ve ruined everything?
Let me repeat that you’re bound to make mistakes. You will give into temptation, you will give in to happy hour, there will be birthday parties and work events you go to and you will slip up.
That doesn’t mean that you’ve ruined your diet or your week. That doesn’t mean that you have to wait until next Monday to get back on track. As soon as you make a mistake you can get back on track with your next meal.
If you overate by 500 calories yesterday then you can eat 500 calories less the next day. If you indulged on some cake for lunch then that doesn’t mean that you have to eat terribly at dinner.
What To Do Instead: Think of it this way: you’re only one meal away from getting back on track. If you have that mentality, you’re going to make progress a lot faster than if you were to say “diet starts Monday”. If you make a mistake, don’t wait another week to restart. Get right back on track.
Mistake #5: Thinking You Can’t Have “Fun” Food
Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out the foods you love. It doesn’t mean you have to avoid socialising and it doesn’t mean you can’t live a normal life.
The more you restrict yourself the harder it’s going to be. here are trigger foods that you have to keep out of your house because you can’t control yourself. Using the 80/20 principle is a great way to still have foods you enjoy without depriving yourself. If you need to eat 2000 calories to lose weight, that means 80% of those calories should come from whole nutritious foods. 20% of those calories can come from foods you enjoy.
That means 400 calories can come from pizza or McDonald’s and you don’t have to feel guilty. You want a flexible lifestyle that allows you to socialize with friends and family and not feel like “that guy” when you go out to eat. The way you do that is to track your calories and make sure you’re in a deficit. Save 20% of your calories for “fun food” and it’s going to make your journey a lot more sustainable.
Start by working on these mistakes one at a time until you’ve fixed them all and you’re going to have a much easier time with your diet. It’s still going to hard and you’re still going to have to practice self-discipline.
But when you don’t have to use as much willpower or stress it makes your results much easier to achieve and, more importantly, to keep.
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