When it comes to fat loss, we really need to find out what works for us, individually, and learn how to apply lifestyle changes to our lives, in a way we actually enjoy and can maintain for life. We also need to take full responsibility for making these changes, and doing all we can to make them work for us.
Incremental changes to our diets and lifestyles mean that our new habits have a chance to become second nature. If you follow the newest ‘fad’ approach you will have some success while your willpower is involved, but these approaches do not stand the test of time as the minute you stop focusing on the diet you will slip up, going back to old habits.
This highlights another problem with relying on willpower, especially while following some faddy or extreme approach. By definition you are thinking about your diet a lot more than you would otherwise – so you are essentially tormenting yourself with your deprivation! Being aware of ‘being on a diet’ all the time, which is needed if you are going to succeed with willpower, means that your chances of success are immediately lowered – it is much easier if you are not constantly focussed on what you can and can’t eat, and if you can just get on with your life and keep yourself busy.
So, how can you avoid this all-too-common pitfall?
Well, firstly, a long term approach is vital. You can force foods you dislike down you in the short-term in order to achieve a short-term goal, but where does this leave you in the long run? Still reaching for the old favourites, that’s where. Instead, think about finding foods you actually do like and incorporating these into your life – this takes a bit of trial and error to get right, but means that the healthy foods you are eating are ones you really enjoy. Then, who needs willpower? Over time you will proabably also find your tastes change and eventually the foods you used to eat or even crave no longer have the same appeal. Once you realise how good you feel when you eat healthier foods, junk really does lose its appeal.
We need to enjoy the changes we make to our lifestyle, although I would also add that change can be hard and uncomfortable. We need to persevere with certain things even if we aren’t that excited about them immediately, adapting our approach to find ways to make the changes as enjoyable as possible. For example, we all need to up our vegetable and fruit intake to 5 – 10 portions a day, but for many this is extremely hard. At first you may resist, insisting that this nutritional programme cannot work as you absolutely hate vegetables. But there are universal laws of good nutrition, of which vegetables are one!
The solution is, again, in the long term approach. So try out several different methods to find something that works for you. When it comes to eating your veggies you may realise that while you hate boiled broccoli you love it when it’s added to a stir-fry with herbs, spices and garlic, for example.
If you struggle with this side of things, you will need to begin experimenting with new foods and methods of preparation: you can try stir-fries, mashes or purees (mashed cauliflower and / or butternut squash is a fab alternative to regular white potato mash for example!), roast veggies (roasting sweet potato or celeriac ‘chips’ instead of regular chips!), various salads, exotic foods, new combinations, spices and herbs. You can always find healthier alternatives to your favourites and all these small replacements can add up to big improvements to your diet as a whole – which will be evident in both your energy levels and your waistline!
For any plan to succeed for you in the long term you need to have the freedom to make choices. It is freedom to choose that empowers you, and as you learn which choices are going to support your goals and which are going to take you further away from achieving them.
Rather than focusing on deprivation and willpower, focus instead on how you can make yourself feel great, while eating foods you enjoy and that take you a step closer to your achieving goals.