Let’s face it… dieting is a battle. Our bodies are hard wired to endure. Survival is the reason why adrenaline kicks in when we exercise, its the reason why the full severity of an injury is not felt until some time has passed, and it’s also the reason why it is so damn hard to lose weight. Your body does not want to let go of its precious energy stores. What happens if the next great famine hits?! Of course, modern technology has improved to a point where it is unlikely that you sitting in your cubicle will have to deal with scarce conditions like our ancestors encountered (hopefully). Unfortunately, modern technology and evolution have not progressed at the same rate. Our bodies want to stay at the same weight, or even gain body fat in case of emergency. If our body will fight us tooth and nail when trying to burn fat, then we need to fight back with full mental capacity and focus dedicated to the task at hand. However, that is not usually what happens when people diet. Most people sabotage their own efforts because they don’t set themselves up for success. Here are two easy strategies that are KEY to making progress on a diet.
What the hell does that title mean?!
Omission, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means something neglected or left undone. When dieting, I want you to use omission to your advantage. Taken at it’s simplest application to dieting, it means not eating certain foods. This is obvious. However, what is not so obvious is what happens when too much thought is given to these now banned foods. This is where you will be guilty of failure by omission. By fixating on things you cannot have, your willpower will become weak, eventually giving into your newly created obsession.
However, you can also have success by omission. What I am talking about is omission in a different sense- I want you to avoid putting trigger foods and temptations in your mind by literally hiding them from your eyes. This will lead you to unparalleled success when trying to make dietary changes.
Focus on what you CAN have
Everyone likes candy. Everyone likes cake and ice cream. Obviously, you can’t get leaner while eating these things all the time. We all tend to focus on what we are missing out on. Instead, you should think about what foods you like that you can eat! Get excited. Spice up staples like grilled chicken and vegetables with seasonings and other flavorings. Stock up on greek yogurt and berries or other fruits that you know you enjoy. Make eating healthy something you look forward to.
Scenario: Low Carb Diet
You decide to lower your carb intake to drop body fat. A major complaint from people new to a low carb diet is that it means giving up your carbs. You might have to cut out breads, pastas and sugar. Yes, that means NO SANDWICHES OMG. That’s the bad news. The good news is you can eat eggs, nut butters, avocados and some tasty salads with an assortment of toppings. I happen to love all those foods, and I know many people who also do. Dieting isn’t so bad when you actually have foods you love. You do not have to be ultra restrictive to lose body fat. Be reasonable, and build your meals around stuff you like to eat.
Out of sight, out of mind
It boggles my mind how many people keep crap foods in their kitchens, refrigerators, and even on their kitchen counters when attempting to lose weight. This is the ultimate self sabotage. Keeping foods that you are not supposed to eat around your house is the easiest and most certain way to make sure you eventually eat those foods. You do not have the willpower to fight this, trust me. There are scientific studies that argue that willpower is a limited resource that can get fatigued, just like any other muscle. It’s hard enough sticking to a diet plan. Make it easy on yourself: throw out all foods you cannot eat OR at the very least, hide your main vices. That means the cookie jar needs to be relocated.
Scenario: Shared living space
I get it, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your dietary habits (well, except my world does ;-)). You many share an apartment or house with your family, spouse, kids or significant other. They shouldn’t have to suffer while you diet. However, this does not give them full permission to have crap food everywhere. Talk to them and politely ask that all junk food, snacks, etc. are stored in a place that is a bit harder to access. Yes, you may now “owe them one”, but just do the dishes an extra night to even it up.
Places to store non-diet friendly foods:
- THE GARBAGE
- Back of the fridge
- On top of the fridge
- In a closet
- On a hard to reach shelf
Scenario:But, I have a CHEAT DAY
If you are one of the many who use a “cheat day” to eat some food that is normally not allowed on your diet, do all the shopping right before you have your day (or meal), and buy things in reasonable quantities. Whatever is left over, throw out, or hide. Do not allow your cheat day to turn into cheat month.
Scenario: I work in an office, and I get the munchies
I think this is the toughest temptation to avoid. Snacks are expensive at the local deli, CVS or food court. I wholeheartedly support your penny pinching by buying a jar of nuts at Costco. However, the temptation to demolish an entire container of pistachios is super hard to overcome. In spite of this, it is definitely possible to not embarrass yourself by licking the PB jar clean at 3 o’clock on a Wednesday.
Ways to avoid a binge at work:
- Keep snacks off your desk
- Store all snacks in a cabinet
- Lock that cabinet and throw away the key
- Develop a system- for example, take a handful of nuts out of the container, place them on your desk, and swear to yourself that amount IS IT FOR THE DAY
Sometimes dieting is hard. Ok, it is mostly hard, 100% of the time. Because of its inherent difficulty, you must do all you can to give you a chance to succeed. Sometimes it’s as easy as hiding foods, sometimes it’s as simple as professing your love for peanut butter. Get in the habit of automatically doing the actions outlined in this post, and you will be well on your way to reaching any weight loss goal you have.
Mulligan Fitness and Hylete.com
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