I have preached the same thing for a long time. I do not believe in diets. To me, a diet is your daily intake of foods. It is not a plan with a start and end date. 4-week diets are only meant to last 4 weeks. What happens after that 4 week period? Most people fall back into the same rut at that point of overeating. For this reason, I believe in complete lifestyle changes. I do not believe in start and end dates. We want to work 100% of the time for 100% of the benefit. That does not mean that we cannot cheat every once in a while. Cheat meals are great and are beneficial to a lot of people. It gives them focus and reminds them that they can still live freely while working out.
This post is actually meant to be for people undergoing a lifestyle change, a fad diet, or just looking for motivation. Eating can easily become an emotional crutch and one can easily fall into the trap of giving up because they are not strong enough mentally to be able to handle their diet. Hopefully these words can help you before you jump off the wagon though. If you are having serious reservations about eating healthy, then you are doing something wrong.
Here are a list of the top 3 most common mental pitfalls that people make when dieting.
Failure to Create a Plan
This one should go without even having to even mention it, yet people do seem to skip this step of their diet far too often. You need a plan. This plan will serve as your contract during your cycle (or lifestyle). Going into a diet without a plan is a battle that you will lose. You need to know where you are going before you start the trip.
Once you start your journey, abide by the rules that you have set within your plan. Do not make them so stringent that there is no room for compromise (or happiness), but have them strict enough where you are actually making a difference. The best diet plans are plans that you a strict roadmap with plenty of detail.
Failure to Set Realistic/Reachable Goals
Along with creating a plan, you need to ensure that your plan is realistic and reachable. Do not plan to lose 30 pounds in 10 days. That is not a realistic goal. While it can indeed be reached, it is truly not realistic. Make your plan along the lines of losing 2 pounds per week. That is a safe number where you can lose fat without losing that hard earned muscle.
Failure to Track Your Progress
You need to track your progress on a few levels. Do not go by what the scale says. Yes, of course, I still weigh myself too, but that number does not mean much to me at all. I focus more on body measurements and how I feel. If I feel hungry, I am not eating enough. If I feel dehydrated, I am not drinking enough water. It sounds so simple and silly, but that is a gauge on how I do things. I measure various body parts often and track them. I want to make sure that my back, arms, chest, legs, etc. are growing and my waist is not increasing. There is more to it than that, but it is a great starting point.
You also need to track your meals. Get yourself an app and use it. I love MyNetDiary. It has a great food lookup tool as well as the ability to create custom foods and recipes. Apps such as this also track your macros per food, so you know how well you are splitting your macros and what the daily totals are.
The one thing that you may notice about this list is that we never talk about controlling urges or avoiding foods. A diet tends to be more of a mental hurdle for people to pass. Keep that in mind the next time that you are thinking about a diet or cutting phase.