Ah the infamous yoyo diet. With such a food centric culture, it's not hard to believe how easy it is to bounce from eating a well balanced meal to crushing a whole bag of chips. Before I give you these handy tips, I'm going to tell a story about a fictional dude named James.
It's the end of the work week. James is one month into his training plan and has been working super hard to stick to it. He's eaten 5 days straight of chicken, broccoli, and rice and was feeling pretty dang proud of himself. He's trained consistently and noticed that his workouts are feeling a LOT easier. The weekend is here, and he vows to not touch one slice of pizza, one pint of beer, not even one block of chocolate. Of course it's the weekend, so his coworkers invite him out for pizza and a pint. Naturally, he wants to enjoy himself and goes out saying "I'll just have one beer and a slice of pizza". Of course it doesn't turn out that way. 1 beer becomes 3, 1 slice of pizza becomes 2, and he's blown it. The next morning he's beating himself up, so he waits until Monday to get his fresh start.
Sound familiar to you or anyone you know? I've ABSOLUTELY been there. Here are five tips that James and you can use to crush that yoyo once and for all.
1. Set REAL goals
In my personal training experiences most clients will come to me with "I want to lose xx lbs" or "I want to get healthy and fit". Both are incredibly good starting points, and kudos for even considering going the extra 9 to change your life. However, after a little bit of experimentation it's important to make those goals more specific. "I want to get healthy and fit" could eventually be changed to "I want to build 10 lbs of lean muscle". WIth our new goal in hand, we can turn the rest of our week into actionable steps that we can control and maintain throughout our week. For the skeptics, consider the alternative, do you think it'd be easier to stay on track without some form of measurement? Chances are the answer is no.
2. Become a world class chef
Okay, so you don't have to go that far, but I'm willing to bet you will get sick of the same meals over and over and OVER. With practice, anyone can cook, and you can literally google recipes FOREVER. Take pride in your meals. Don't call it chicken broccoli and rice, dress it up differently, how about lemon garlic herb chicken, on a bed of rice with a side of broccoli parm? Sounds way more appetizing to me. Additionally, having a couple different options doesn't have to be complicated. Throw it on a bed of rice with salsa and beans and voila, you have a meal with almost the same things, that tastes and feels very different.
3. Know WHY you eat, not what you eat
Obviously you should still know what you eat, but the why is way more important than most of us give it credit for. Why do you think james abandoned his training goals? He knew pizza and beer wasn't going to help. Stress. Peer pressure. James doesn't have to avoid pizza forever, but he should probably negotiate on his own terms, not his friends. My suggestion.... write it down. Not just the food, but how you were feeling when you ate. The good, bad, and the ugly. James would've probably wrote something like "feeling tired, stuck to my diet all week, friends wanted to go out". Think of how prepared he'd be next time if was armed with this information. I know, we've heard it before, but considering the amount of effort involved in training, is writing it down really that unreasonable? I'd argue crashing and burning after 5 hours of training throughout the week seems a lot less logical.
4. Bigger Change= Bigger resistance
Big changes are intimidating. Our brains are hardwired to avoid anything that makes it uncomfortable. It takes time to build a new relationship with food. Small changes are your bread and butter when it comes to making it stick. Find the lowest hanging fruit in your diet and tackle that first, but always remember, one thing at a time. Switch your soda for coffee. Or bread for greens. Or just do half the bun. Wherever you start, pick that thing and ONLY that thing until you've mastered it, then find the next food, habit, or trigger to crush.
5. Be HAPPY
Remember to have fun! Pat yourself on the back even when times are tough. You are your own best friend and worst critic. Your goals ARE attainable, and you will get there if you keep trying. Everything that's in your way is just another opportunity for you to be better.
There is so much more to be said about this topic, and I will be covering more of it, on the diet side and the training side, but that's for another day (remember when I said one thing at a time?) Have a great day!