Starting a diet can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t mentally prepared yourself for the change. When you have the right mindset it is easier to start a diet and health program. By preparing yourself you can put yourself in a better mood to follow the right diet and avoid being distracted from your goal.
Evaluate your thinking
Be aware of negative thought patterns about food. Diets often fall apart due to negative thought patterns around food and eating. Try to take into account your own thoughts regarding food and how you must fight to change those thoughts.
Many times, people feel like it’s okay to indulge during special occasions. There’s nothing wrong with overeating once in a while, but be honest with yourself about what you consider a special occasion. When situations like eating out, lunches at work, office parties, and other small events become an excuse to overeat, they can sabotage diet plans. Try to reevaluate how you define a special occasion.
Do you use food as a reward? Many people feel that, after a long day, they deserve a grab-and-go dinner or a bowl of ice cream. Try to find ways to reward yourself other than food. Reward yourself with a nice hot bath, spend some money on a new outfit, or watch a movie. There are many ways to reward yourself without having to resort to food.
Dissociate food from certain activities. Food is closely linked to custom. It can be difficult to give up snacks that are sugary or fattening if you associate them emotionally with certain customs. Make a conscious effort to disassociate food from certain habits.
Try to be aware of when you overeat or have unhealthy foods and drinks. Do you always buy popcorn and a soda at the movies? Do you always order a few glasses of wine on a date night? Can’t imagine a Saturday morning without coffee and donuts? If so, work to reduce these associations.
Try to replace unhealthy food with other associations. For example, play a board game on a date night instead of talking and drinking. Have fresh fruit and yogurt with your Saturday morning coffee. If you relax by eating at the end of the day, try reading a book or listening to music.
Think of eating poorly in terms of habits rather than calories. In the long run, you’ll be more likely to stick to a diet if you address negative habits rather than just restricting calories. Try to be aware of when and why you eat. Even if it’s only half a cookie, do you indulge because you had a long day? Do you eat out of boredom and not hunger? If so, try to kick the habit. Even if you don’t go overboard on calories, the bottom line is that you’re eating the wrong foods for the wrong reasons.
Look for support. Change is difficult. You can’t do it alone. Seek support from your friends and family. Tell them you are trying to lose weight and ask for their help. Ask them not to invite you to parties where there is junk food or alcohol. Ask them if you can talk to them when you feel frustrated or tempted. Talk to household members about your goals. Ask them to keep tempting foods out of your sight.
Set small, realistic goals. Many people sabotage diet and weight loss plans by setting very difficult goals. If you want to stick to a diet, keep your goals realistic.
Keep in mind that most people lose 1 to 2 pounds (0.45 to 0.91 kilograms) a week on a healthy diet. If you want to lose more, you are likely to set yourself up for failure.
For starters, you need to set some loose goals. In this way, you will be more likely to achieve those goals and will be motivated to continue. Abstract goals like “I will eat vegetables every day of the week” and “I will order salad instead of fries when I eat out this month” are good goals to start with and will set you up for success.
Prepare a journal. Part of sticking to a diet is responsibility. Go out and buy a journal so you can use it as a diet journal. Track everything you eat each day and count calories. Physically seeing how much you consume forces you to confront your habits. This can motivate you to reform your eating habits.
Plan your meals. Planning your meal in advance can help reduce cravings. In the days before you start your diet, make a list of the healthy meals you want to eat. Try to prepare your food. That is, chop the necessary ingredients in advance. You can even make a large batch of something like soup or a salad to have lunch ready for each day of the first week.
Imagine yourself skinny. Try to imagine a slimmer version of yourself. Many people are less likely to compromise on their diet when they have a clear picture of where they want to go. If you’re struggling to get back to your previous weight, it can be helpful to print pictures of yourself when you were thinner. Leave them around your house for some inspiration.
Strengthen your willpower
Pay attention to specific behaviors. Increasing your willpower can be difficult if you work in abstract terms. However, addressing specific behaviors can help you strengthen your resolve over time.
Make a list of specific behaviors you want to change. Start with small alterations and then move on. Try limiting yourself to altering these behaviors for one week, and then add new changes to your regimen.
For example, say something like, “Today, instead of seeing a movie after work, I’m going to take a 40-minute walk.” Keep doing this for a week. The following week, increase the duration of your physical activity. Walk for 60 minutes, for example.
Be responsible. Although you have to be hard on yourself, you must take responsibility for the slippage of your willpower. This helps you recognize that you are the only one with the power to change your behavior.
Recognize when you fail in one of your goals. Write it in your diet journal. Accept responsibility for failure.
Write the reason why you failed in terms that make it clear that you are disappointed in yourself. For example, write something like “I didn’t refrain from the cake when I went out to eat tonight because I’d rather feel bad about myself later.” Although it may seem harsh, many people find it helpful to spell out failures. This motivates them to make a greater effort to change.
Consider eating whatever you want once a week. For many people, being able to eat whatever they want once a week makes their diet viable. Abstaining for too long can cause your entire diet to fall apart. Sticking to a strict diet can be more doable when you know you have the food you expect at the end of the tunnel. If you think it might benefit you, consider adding an eat-whatever day to your routine.