This post about how to stick to a diet is just as much for me as for you. I have managed to do the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) a few times, I did a few 7-day keto cycles, I have been able to lose 25 lbs after 40 sticking to intermittent fasting and clean eating. Despite all that, I still struggle to stick to my goals quite often. For example, I occasionally decide I will do another keto cycle or another FMD and give up within the first day! Or, I tell myself that I am going to change a certain habit and then, I don’t.
How to Stick to a Diet and Workout Plan
Whether it’s your diet or your workout plan, creating new habits and learning how to stick to your plan can take time. It’s not about never failing, it’s about getting back up. Here, I am going to share my favorite tips to help you stick to your diet so you can achieve your goals.
1. Plan Ahead
The most common reason I don’t stick to a diet these days is that I don’t plan it long enough in advance. I kind of go on a whim and decide I want to do this or that diet. Planning ahead will help in many ways:
- Allows you to ensure you have the foods you need and get rid of the foods you can’t have.
- Gives you enough time to prepare mentally.
- Makes it possible to pick the best possible period.
- Gives you the ability to find accountability buddies.
Basically, planning ahead is the building block of all my other tips!
2. Prepare Mentally
Every challenge in life is overcome in your mind first. When it comes to learning how to stick to a diet, you will find that preparing mentally will help you ensure that you have the mental stamina to keep going.
Write Down Your Goal
Thinking about what motivates you will be one of the most important steps you will take to stick to a diet or any other new habit in your life. Your goal has to be important enough to carry you through when things get tough. You have to be able to visualize it and want it bad enough to continue even when you don’t want to.
Examples of goals that may help you stick to a diet and workout plan:
- Your dream body.
- Having more energy to enjoy life (think of the things you want to do).
- A skill you want to acquire.
- Someone you want to impress (no judging here, a goal is a goal even if it doesn’t seem as “lofty.”)
- Getting rid of a specific health issue and the ways it would change your life.
Set Realistic Expectations
When you set your diet expectations, make sure it is doable for you. Deciding to go on a 5-day water fast when you have no fasting experience may not be a very realistic expectation. Decide ahead of time exactly what you will allow yourself to do, make sure it’s realistic so you can stick to it. A good starting point for a beginner wanting to lose weight would be to get started with intermittent fasting 20 hours a day four days a week. You could also decide ahead of time which foods are off-limit and which foods you can have at will during your eating window. Some people do better with a complete diet makeover from the get-go while some need a paced approach. It’s up to you to determine where you fit in.
3. Choose Your Time Period Wisely
There are two main factors to consider when picking when you will start a diet:
- Do you have events coming up that couild make it harder to stick to your plan?
- Where are you going to be in your monthly cycle?
How to Deal With Events
Depending on what type of diet you are going for, events may or may not be an issue. If you are intermittent fasting, just make sure your eating window is during the event. Tala! However, if you are doing the FMD or the keto diet, it may be a bit more problematic. Avoid choosing dates that include important events for these types of diets as much as possible. If you can’t avoid it, making sure you are not hungry during the event will help. Eat before or bring your own food. Warn others ahead of time about what you will be doing if applicable.
How Your Cycle Can Impact Your Diet
You probably have noticed that you have more food cravings during the week before your period. If for you, cravings strike at a different time in your cycle, take note, and avoid starting your diet at that time.
Whether it’s before or during your period, cravings during your cycle are attributable to a drop in estrogen and progesterone. Eating starchy foods releases serotonin, which makes you feel happy,
Your estrogen level will rise again by day 7 of your cycle, which is a better time to start your new diet. You can also try the following tips:
- Get outside! Going for walks outside will reduce your food cravings. The sunshine and the fresh air will boost your seratonin levels.
- Take vitamin D. Supplementing with vitamin D will help you avoid vitamin D deficiency, which exagerates cravings and addictions.
- Workout every day. Working out is also an effective means of keeping cravings at bay.
- Practice intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting will reduce your cravings long term by stabilizing your insulin levels.
Learn more about how you can benefit from intermittent fasting in my Intermittent Fasting 101 Workshop.
4. Prepare Your Fidge and Pantry
Having a meal plan and making sure your fridge and pantry are filled with the foods you need are crucial. On the flip side, don’t keep the foods that will tempt you. It’s just common sense, right? Moreover, learn to enjoy the foods you are allowed to have. With practice, you may not even be tempted to quit.
5. Find Accountability Buddies
Find someone who may want to go on the same diet as you. Keep each other accountable with daily check-ins. If you don’t know anyone who would be interested in your diet, find an online community or even simply a friend who is willing to keep you accountable (even if she isn’t following the same plan).
6. Consider Changing Your Diet and Workout Plan Simultaneously
This one seems a bit counterintuitive. I tend to recommend a gradual approach to making changes. I find that improving your lifestyle one little step at a time works better than trying a major overhaul all at once for most of us. However, it turns out that according to this study, those who start a healthy diet and exercise at the same time may be more likely to stick to their new lifestyle than just one without the other.
7. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is the practice of learning to truly enjoy and savor the foods you are eating. Here’s what you need to do:
- Sit down for meals.
- Avoid distractions like your phone or the TV.
- Take note of the texture, aroma, and colors of your foods.
- Befored you start eating, take a few breath and be thankful for your food.
- Eat slowly.
Applying these mindful eating tips will help you feel more satisfied after your meals and increase your chance of sticking to a diet.
How to Stick to a Diet When You Want to Give Up
As you noticed, the first part is all about the stuff you can do ahead of time to increase your chance of sticking to a diet. What if you are in the middle of it and are considering giving up? What should you do? How can you stick to your plan then?
Give It a Bit More Time Before Giving Up
Taking things one day at a time or even one hour at a time can be life-changing. Let’s say you are on Day 2 of the FMD and finding it very difficult. Thinking about the fact that you have three days left can be very discouraging. However, if you may find that giving yourself permission to not continue on and deciding that you will finish today and see how you feel tomorrow can help. Tell yourself that if you finish today, you can give up tomorrow. You may be surprised to find that tomorrow isn’t as hard you can keep going for another day. Or you may decide to give up and that’s ok.
Let Go of the All or Nothing Mentality
Success is not found in perfection. Success is in all the little steps you take that will bring your closer to your goals. If you want to give up and can’t go on anymore, maybe you can do one thing differently to help you keep going? For example, if you are doing the FMD, would an extra handful of nuts help you persevere? If you are on the keto diet, is there a suboptimal keto food that would allow you to stick to your plan (like a keto bar)? Try to think of ways to make your diet more sustainable rather than give up completely.
Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress will help you not give up on your diet and workout plan. I know that after putting so much time and effort into losing 25 lbs through intermittent fasting and toning my body through exercise, the last thing I want to do is throw it all away now. Keeping track of your progress and being conscious of what it took to get there is a huge motivating factor in itself. Starting over from scratch would really suck, so you avoid quitting!
What to Do After You Give Up a Diet
Ok, I am hoping that all these tips will help you not give up on your diet, but let’s be real here: you will sometimes! And guess what? It’s OK! The problem is not giving up for a day or two. The problem is when you let it drag on and on. When you give up, get right back up!
Remember, every little step counts, and the sooner you get back up, the easier it will be!