5 Tips to Keep Your Diet on Track
Always losing track of your weight loss goals? You’re not alone—everyone’s had their share of failed diets. But staying on track is easier that you think. Here are five simple tricks you can try.
Deciding to go on a diet is one thing, but staying on it is another. The story is all too familiar: you decide to lose a few pounds, you go on a diet, and two weeks into it, the only thing you’ve lost is your willpower. So you end up going overboard, or cheating your diet, or simply giving up. Why is it so hard to follow diets, and how can you make it easier?
The first thing to remember is that diets take time. If you’re not seeing results within one week, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. In fact, if you drop even five pounds in that time, it’s probably not a healthy diet. Also, most diets have a “plateau” period, a time when progress seems to stop even if you’re as consistent as ever. This is when most people lose motivation.
That’s why it’s important to understand how your diet works. If you know what it does for your body, following it will be a lot easier. Here are five more things you can do to help yourself stay on track.
1. Write it down.
This sounds rather elementary, but it really works. Plan out all your meals on a chart and put it up where you can easily see it. Cross out items as you go along, giving yourself a “star” or some other form of merit for each meal you successfully follow. Putting it down on paper makes it look more serious, so you feel more compelled to see it through. Make sure there’s a copy on your fridge door, too—it’ll keep you from grabbing those little snacks in between meals.
2. Choose a manageable diet.
The reason a lot of diets fail is that they’re hard to maintain in the first place. Choose a diet you know you can stick to, taking your activity level, work schedule, and other lifestyle factors into account. Remember, not all diets work for everyone. Just because someone lost 10 pounds on one diet doesn’t mean it’ll work on you too. Take the time to find one that fits your needs. If you can, visit your doctor and have him or her recommend one for you.
3. Find a companion.
When you’re dieting alone, who’s to tell when you break your own rules? That’s what makes it so easy to quit or cheat, especially if everyone around you is eating what they want. Join a local group or community, or find a friend or family member you can do it with. That way, you’ll have someone to keep you on track and vice versa. You can also try joining online communities such as Weight Watchers or Calorie Count, post your diet plans, and tell everyone about your progress.
4. Watch your comfort foods.
Are you the type who “eats your feelings”? That’s what could be ruining your diet. Comfort foods tend to be loaded with fat, sugar and calories. Your emotions are no excuse for grabbing that cookie or candy bar. You don’t have to give up comfort food entirely—you just need to find healthier ones. Look for high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and wholegrain crackers. These foods fill you up fast, so you’ll feel full before you eat the caloric equivalent of one meal.
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: diet alone isn’t enough. While you will lose weight on a diet, you’ll easily gain it back once you start eating normally. Get some exercise into your lifestyle, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk a day. This will keep up your metabolism, which tends to drop as you deprive yourself of your usual intake. Exercise can even keep you from overeating—studies show that a moderate workout releases brain chemicals that can suppress appetite.