Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
Having a hard time sticking to your diet? If you are, you’re not alone.
Dieting sucks because we make it feel like an impossible task. We do things like:
But here’s the truth. Dieting doesn’t have to suck. In fact, if you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t feel like it’s a diet. It should feel more like a lifestyle.
Instead of giving you some vague ideas on how to stick to a diet, I’m going to give you the method to implement a lifestyle change instead so it doesn’t even feel like a diet.
Five areas I’m going to be focusing on are:
Step 1: Why are you doing this?
When it comes to setting goals related to your health and fitness, we all have a visual created in our head of what we want our bodies to look like.
But before you take your body to that destination, you first have to make sure your mind is ready for it.
What’s your why? Is it to impress others? To get a beach body for a holiday? To feel good about yourself? To perform better at your sport?
For me, the initial reason I made my lifestyle change when I was 18 was because I didn’t want to be known as ‘small Adrian’ any longer, I didn’t want to be pushed off the ball too easily in football and I wanted to impress other people (let’s be honest, starting out when you’re a teenager this does become a factor whether you admit it or not!). Now my goals have changed but this was the reason that got me started.
What’s your why?
And is this reason for wanting to make a lifestyle change strong enough to keep you on track? If so, on the days you feel like quitting or giving up, you can remind yourself why you wanted to do it in the first place to help keep you on track.
Step 2: Develop A Plan to Succeed
The key to making a lifestyle change is to create a winning formula which you can succeed at.
Sure, you can cut out carbs, not eat any chocolate and completely restrict yourself from eating your favourite foods. And guess what?
This usually results in some short term progress the first week or two. You might notice a reduction in weight on the scales for instance and get a short-term win.
But, what I’ve found is often around the three-week mark, this restrictive approach tends to fail. Usually around the three-week mark is when the novelty of starting something new ends. Our will power is being pushed to the limit. Just like when you exercise, the more you work your muscles, the more exhausted they become, your will power is the same.
There’s only so much tension you will power can accumulate before it reaches boiling point. And when we do reach boiling point, that’s when we break out and start eating all of those foods we deprived ourselves from having. That’s when temptation gets the better of us & we can no longer live up to the promises we told ourselves.
And then the ‘dieting’ cycle ends, we resort back to our old ways and tell ourselves we’re incapable of changing.
That’s where planning comes in. Planning is actually an easy task – every team at the start of the year wants to win out the championship. But why does only one team win?
Because they implement structures around these plans which allow them to succeed. which brings me onto my next point.
Step 3: Create A Structure
All of the above seems easy so far – I just have to know why I want to do this and write out a plan on paper. Great!
Everything is easier on paper than it is in real life. Real life – things can become trickier. For instance, what are you going to do when you get home and are absolutely starving and want something to eat instantly? Are you going to reach for the chips or the carrot sticks? Are you going to have the discipline to spend 30 minutes cooking a meal or are you going to root through the presses and pick the most convenient thing?
That’s why you need to create a structure – a way to set up your days and your week.
Think about how your life operates currently – you are likely following some form of routine whether you’re aware of it or not.
You probably go to bed and get up around the same time Monday – Friday, start work at a certain time, eat lunch around the same time and wind down and finish up at a specific time of day.
Now that you’ve identified your structure, ask yourself is this structure serving me? Is it moving me towards where I want to go?
If not, then you need to make changes to get out of a routine which doesn’t serve you and into one that does.
This process can start by analysing the foods you normally eat. What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? If they’re not nutrient dense sources and you’d like the change them, it probably means you need to set aside time to cook regularly at home or batch cook on specific days to get you ready for the week or upcoming day.
This process might seem like it’s too hard to do all at once. Which is why I’d recommend you to start small. Why not start with your breakfast and make better choices?
It might be a case of swapping your granola with a overnight oats. Or adding in some Greek yogurt to your morning smoothie. The goal is not only to make the meal nutritious and filling, but to create something that tastes so good that makes you want to get up in the morning and have it.
Once this becomes a habit, you can start thinking about making better choices at lunch and dinner.
Step 4: Make It Enjoyable
As mentioned above, restrictive diets rarely work.
What happens when you tell yourself you can’t have something? You immediately want it! In fact, subconsciously, you probably think and crave more about the food or drink than you usually would have previously.
For anyone starting out a program, I can understand how difficult it could be if you were to have that “all or nothing” mentality and be too restrictive in your diet. Why? Because most people have never gone a week without having some chocolate or some ice-cream or pizza. Why do you suddenly expect yourself to be able to last 6 weeks or 12 weeks or whatever the duration of your program is without having any of these things?
How can you make more of a sustainable lifestyle change? Allow yourself to strategically have the foods & drinks you enjoy consistently such as carbs, chocolate & cocktails! Will your progress be as quick? Probably not. But will you enjoy the process more? 100%. Which would you prefer?
Doing this effectively is known as ‘flexible dieting’ which I’m a big proponent of. Flexible dieting involves knowing what your daily and weekly caloric intake should be and hitting that calorie target each day or on a broader scale, not going over your weekly budget. Of the calories you consume, 80%-90% of them should be made up of real, nutrient dense foods. Real foods:
A good rule of thumb is if it hasn’t been around when your grandparents were alive, then it’s probably not a real food. For instance, protein bars – while they taste good (especially the chocolate mint flavour) wouldn’t be classified as a real food and over consumption of them can falsely lead us to believe we’re ‘eating healthy.’
Eating real foods the majority of the time will keep you fuller for longer, make you feel more energised and help you tone up and build strength more efficiently. And if you do it right, you’ll find a way to cook tasty and nutritious meals which won’t even feel like you’re on a diet!
If 80-90% of your food comes from nutrient dense sources, the other 10-20% is where the flexibility comes into play and allows you to include some treats or foods you really enjoy. For instance, every week I eat a big pancake stack with a cappuccino or latte! I enjoy eating pizza or having ice-cream (especially as the weather gets warmer!). I like having chocolate.
I can eat and enjoy these foods on a regular basis because I know, in the grand scheme of things, I mostly eat nutrient dense foods which gives me more freedom. Flexible dieting is a brilliant approach to use to find that balance between reaching your physical fitness goals and satisfying your social life, your cravings and your weekend lifestyle.
A final note on making it enjoyable – forgive yourself when you do go ‘off track’ even if it wasn’t part of your plan or structure. For instance – maybe a slice of pizza turned into a full pizza, a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a massive bowl of cereal (my favourite!). You’re always one meal away from getting back on track.
As a client of mine said:
“I learned not to compound one mistake with another. If you break your diet by one small meal mid-week, the week is not lost. Before on my own, if I tried to eat healthy for a week but broke my diet on a Tuesday, I’d then give up then for that week and say I’ll start again next week. Now the odd blip doesn’t set me back, I just get back on track for the next meal.”
Step 5: Get Support And Accountability
Lastly, this is probably the most important part of this whole thing. When you’re trying to make a lifestyle change, it’s easy to get discouraged or feel overwhelmed as if you’ve to do everything at once.
You might find yourself wanting to give up because it seems like you’re not making as much progress as you’d like. You might be questioning or doubting your approach. You might even be confused by all the noise on Google Education or Instagram Fitness!
If that’s you, I understand how you feel. In fact, everyone goes through this seemingly impossible phase at some point of their learning curve. But you know what?
Just like the old saying goes, two heads are better than one.
If you become an Insider into my online coaching, all of the guesswork will be taken out of it for you. You will stop doubting yourself and no longer have to make things up as you go along. Instead, you will be given a specific blueprint and structure to follow so you’ll know not only what foods you should be eating, but what also what amount (which most people struggle with). On top of this, you’ll be given specific, structured workouts which match your current lifestyle and goals and most importantly – guidance, support and accountability.
Having accountability and support is great on the good days. Often people say things like:
“I am definitely feeling a lot more confident in the way i look and it is having a knock-on effect with the way I’m feeling as well which is brilliant. My posture is even after improving since I started the program. I am also receiving compliments from family members, friends and others about how I look which I find so uplifting and positive! When I try on clothes that I haven’t worn in a while or ever but have in the wardrobe, I am really starting to fill out the leg or top which is what one of my main goals is/was at the beginning.”
But having support is equally important on the tough days. The days you feel like quitting. Checking-in regardless of whether the day was “perfect” or not is what keeps people accountable to keep going.
“I find it hard to manage my foods at the weekend” is a common struggle some of my clients have which makes the check-ins even more important so they don’t quit.
If you’d like to become an Insider, claim your free consultation call now.
What To Do Next:
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I specialise in providing transformation and performance-based programs specifically designed for you.
What’s the purpose of the consultation call?
To deep dive into your health & exercise history, your goals and current struggles and from there decide if we’d be able to work together. If we are a good fit, we can get working on your personalised program so you can finally make the changes you’ve always desired.
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Adrian McDonnell -
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