New Year’s fitness resolutions are characterized by joining a gym (or getting a trainer), and going on a diet, which is typically drastic for that person. This will get you results, right? Of course, it will. However, will you keep those results? Probably not. Why? Because you are missing something… something important, something huge! It’s sustainability. What is sustainability? Sustainability means you make a change that is permanent. So instead of thinking exercise and diet, think strategy and sustainability. Also keep in mind strategies change and adapt. This is not the same thing as “I’m going to try a trainer and go on the keto diet to lose weight”. This is not a strategy it is merely a test. A test to see if those actions work for you, and they may temporarily, but is that what you want? Getting a qualified trainer is a great piece to a strategy, because they can help you find the mini strategies that will eventually comprise your day-to-day routines. After all most people need to lose weight or get in shape because their day-to-day routines got them to that point. However, people often have those day-to-day routines because they serve some underlying need or desire. So in order to be successful you will need to find ways to meet those same underlying needs and desires that aren’t counter productive to your weight loss and health goals. For example:
You and a group a friends meet for drinks every Friday night, or brunch every Saturday morning, or beer and wings to watch the game every Sunday afternoon.. or you and your co-workers go out to lunch each day. In many cases we have multiple events like this throughout the week. These examples illustrate where food is the center piece for a social gathering, and meets those needs of connectedness, and joy. Both of which are important and cannot be stifled long-term.
When people go on a diet, they may still attend these social gatherings but often it is borderline torture for the but they may still succeed by telling themselves it’s only temporary. Once this temporary time passes, they go back to participating in these activities and of course they put all the weight back on. So it would appear you have one of two choices. You either give up those social gatherings, or you give in to those social gatherings. However, I’m here to tell you, you have more options than that.
This is where strategies come in. However, to do that you have to rethink your social calendar, which “events” are most important to you, which one’s you may have no problem attending without gorging. You also want to rethink your nutrition on those “high calorie” days. For example, on Fridays we frequently do a pizza/stromboli night, or wing night. These all full of fattening calories. However, since I know this event is coming, I’ll eat much lighter during the day. During the day Friday all I have is black coffee (to curb my appetite) and a protein shake. Then when it is time for pizza I’ve only had 200 calories leaving me the balance (rest of calories I should have that day) of my calories (1600-1800) for that evening.
This does not mean lose control and absolutely gorge yourself because you can still over-do it. It does mean that you can eat until you are no longer hungry and feel satisfied. I would encourage you to eat slowly (i.e. 40-50 chews per bite) and maybe take breaks between servings allowing for your hunger hormones to shutoff. This is an example of a few mini strategies that works for me. It may not work for you, or maybe you’ll need to adjust it, but the point is, you’re not going to create a sustainable lifestyle by mindlessly following a diet.
A diet may work for a short period of time, but eventually your head and heart are going to chime in with feelings of regret, or justification to cheat, or feelings of deprivation. Implementing strategies is how you manage those feelings until it eventually they all work together seamlessly and it just becomes something you do. If you find yourself about to cheat on your diet thinking to yourself…. It’s ok to have this because you’ve been doing so well, then you’re off track. That thought is common with “dieters” and if that does pop in your head you need a strategy to deal with it. For example, you can tell yourself you’ll write down the food item you want (maybe it’s a donut you saw at work) and plan a time to have it. Be sure to write down when you can have it, and make sure you follow through. Remember having it without a plan will undermine your integrity to yourself.
Lastly, also keep in mind there are other ways to meet those needs of connectedness and joy. Believe it or not you may even meet those needs better by engaging in new activities. For example, you can join a softball team, or a kick ball team, a dance group or a walking group. In these examples you can meet your needs without it revolving around unhealthy foods. The point is there are unlimited possibilities for meeting these underlying needs, and by finding the right strategies not only will you reach your weight loss and health goals, you may also find you’re living a more fulfilling life.