In my experience, people don’t have trouble going on a diet – they have trouble sticking to it. It’s just too easy to get side-tracked and tempted. On top of just normal temptations, as soon as we begin a diet, we start obsessing over food. We are constantly thinking of what we can and cannot eat, what we should eat and what we want to eat. I even see people doing cardio watching the food network. Does that really make any sense at all?
I believe people don’t set enough boundaries – not just with food, but with their thoughts. We trust ourselves just a little too much. We put ourselves in stupid compromising situations and then wonder why we fail.
Personally, I think we think about food way too much. We “allow” our thoughts to explore territory our mouths should never go while dieting. Instead of thinking about our training and new fit bodies, we are dreaming and scheming up ways to create some “healthy” dish we can try to squeeze in our plan so we don’t feel so deprived – but are we really deprived? When was delicious grilled chicken and asparagus an example of being deprived? When was having abs and feeling great not worth going without pizza? Do you really want to taste pizza more than wear some kick-butt jeans without a muffin top? Let’s put things in to perspective so you can begin succeeding!
Before you explore these tips, first decide whether you are in maintenance or weight loss mode. If you are maintenance, you can be a little less strict – or you can follow these rules during the week, but enjoy a little more freedom on the weekend. If you are in diet mode, then these 7 tips should help you stay on the fast track to success.
7 Practical Diet Tips to Help You Stay On Track
1. Stick to a routine. Eating the same foods, like the same one or two breakfasts every day, helps keep dieting simple. The less you have to think about what I should eat, the easier it is to eat healthy. The more variety you have, the more excited your tastebuds will get – and they may want more. If you eat oatmeal every day, I doubt you’ll want to overeat or go back for seconds.
2. Avoid restaurant menus. Should an alcoholic spend time looking through the drink menu? Should they walk the isles of ABC liquor? Of course not! So why should a dieter spend time shopping a menu with pictures of food they shouldn’t eat. All it does is open the windows of our hungry mind. If you must eat out, either make your decision before you even show up to the restaurant, or have someone else help you order if you are tempted to go off plan.
3. Make rules and stick with them. In our house, dinners are always one meat and one green veggie. Period. Since we don’t need carbs to sleep, we save carbs (like a sweet potato) for lunch. Setting rules helps us stay on track. No rules, no boundaries, no success.
4. Prepare your food when you aren’t hungry. We cook a good bulk of our food on Sundays AFTER we eat lunch. When meals are made in advance, all we have to do is heat them up when you get hungry. If you wait to cook when you are hungry, you are more likely to focus on what you want to taste rather than what you need to eat – and you may whip up something higher in calories because you are thinking with your stomach, and not your new fit brain.
5. Rely primarily on whole foods. I love making turkey meatloaf and yummy meals, but Steve can’t control himself around them. So, 75% of our meals are whole foods, and only 25% are multi-ingredient dishes. This gives us just enough variety without sabotaging our diet.
6. Be patient when cooking. Rely on seasoning and slow cooking (like a crock pot or roaster) to boost flavor instead of sauces and added ingredients. Many times we add more calories than necessary simply because we cook too fast and don’t allow seasonings to be absorbed in the food.
7. Know what you can and cannot handle. No matter how motivated someone is in the morning, that motivation can be forgotten by the time you are standing in the pantry staring at the nuts at night. If you can’t handle having certain snacks or foods in the house, don’t let them past your front door. Sometimes it’s best to go without than to try to practice self-control (and fail over and over).
Remember, the only way you will be successful is to be honest with yourself. Some people are super disciplined and some people aren’t. Be honest with yourself and set goals accordingly.
Results Taste Better
Whatever your goal is, whether it’s to lose a few pounds or compete (like this chick below), spend more time thinking about your training, and less time thinking about food. If you want abs more than you want ice cream, then put a set of abs on the freezer door to remind you what you want long term. Because, honestly, 10 minutes of pleasure isn’t worth ruining a reward you can enjoy all day every day – because I’m pretty sure this chick is not the least bit upset about the foods she missed out on while she stands fit and proud on stage.
We’ve all been there before. That moment when you have to make a decision to either eat nothing, or eat fast food. I just recently had that dilema myself. I needed food – fast. Luckily, a Wendy’s was just around the corner. I knew, from previous calorie-counting experience, I could find a low-calorie option there, so off I went.
As I waited on the customers in front of me, I began to browse the menu (which, by the way is always a mistake). I hadn’t been to a Wendy’s in some time so there were many new items, and I decided to try something new.
You see, if you are on a diet, you should never even consider what you WANT to eat. That’s like window shopping with no money. A dieter needs to make a decision based on what they can afford to eat, not what they want to taste. So, with that said, it’s best not to look at every high-calorie tasty menu item. Stick to the plan Bonnie.
Too late, the first mistake was made. I went off plan and ordered the Baja Chicken Salad. I did, however, go on my handy dandy FastFoodCal app to check out the damage before I actually ordered it. Once I saw the half salad was only 280 calories, I made the order – BUT, several more mistakes were made without my knowledge.
Mistake #2, #3 & #4…
After I got home, I looked up the official Wendy’s nutritional information online to see if the calories included dressing. That would be a big fat NO. Not only did it not include the dressing, their PDF nutritional menu items did not include any toppings at all. So, I used their customizable calorie counter to add or remove toppings for an accurate calorie count. After I did the math, adding the 100 calorie dressing and the 80 calories in tortilla chips, I got the REAL total for the Baja Salad, as it was intended to be eaten. 470 calories, not 280. Big difference!
Granted, I didn’t eat the chips and I didn’t need the dressing since it had guacamole and pico de gallo, but how many other people would have taken the time to dig a little deeper to find the correct nutritional information about their meal? I was so upset at how difficult it was to figure this all out. All I could think of are all the newbie dieters who gobbled the whole 470 calories up, and put 280 on their log – and they wonder why they aren’t losing weight. They are TRYING their best, but these types of common mistakes sabotage their efforts, and restaurants aren’t helping.
Counting Calories Shouldn’t Be This Hard
Counting calories is already a pain but, if you really want to succeed, now you have to be a mathematician AND a private investigator – because many chains desquise calories and hide evidence. The way many chains create their nutritional graph is an irritating sneaky tactic to throw consumers off. Notice the very first number (circled below in red) is weight, not calories. They know good and well we look at that first number, expecting THAT number to refer to calories? It’s the first number on most labels, and it’s the most important number for a dieter, so why put it second? I’ll tell you why. They hope people look at that number instead, and mistake it for a lower calorie item. Believe me, I know better and I still almost got fooled.
The Truth May be Hard to Swallow, but It Leaves a Better Taste in Your Mouth
Restaurants, you should list the calories as it was intended to be served, not list the lowest number based on what you think customers want to hear. Dishing out lies, and relying on people to be too lazy to figure out the truth, is so deceptive – and no one likes being deceived.
There will be plenty of unhealthy people who will continue to buy your greasy high-calorie food, but if you want to also capture the people who value their health more than your value meal, you need to start serving up the truth and giving us what we need to help us reach our goals while still eating on the go. The alternative is to avoid eating fast food altogether. So, do you want to help us or not? Or are you just doing the bare minimum so you can be in compliance and “appear” to be helping America fight obesity.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how tasty your food is, if you can’t be honest and more helpful to dieters, it will just leave us all with a bad taste in our mouth – and that’s something no amount of breath mints can cover up.
CLICK HERE to see 20 examples of how 1 ITEM from popular restaurants can erase 1 HOUR of hard work.
Learn more diet tips for the drive through window: Fast Food Diet Tips.
In the real world, it really doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how much money you make, if you spend it all – or spend even more. What really speaks the most is the balance you carry. This also applies with our body. When it comes to food and calories, most people are constantly going over budget and eating more than they can afford to eat. Instead of racking up dept, you pack on the weight.
I know, you are probably thinking, “I have no idea how to track calories” or “that sounds like a pain”, but if you think for one minute that managing calories is not your thing, then maybe it’s time to make it your thing. Balancing my checkbook isn’t my thing either, but I do it because it’s a necessary part of life . It’s not an option. Since I like my lifestyle, my house and my cars (and don’t want anyone to come pick them up) I’m forced to keep a close watch on what I spend. So, I live on a budget.
Unfortunately, no one will repo your body. No one charges you an NSF fee every time you eat a meal over budget. Nope, your only punishment is weight gain – and that’s not enough punishment for some people. Most people wait until things get so bad, like getting deep in debt, before they decide to fix it. That’s not a good place to be, but it’s where many of us find ourselves when we face the New Year.
We overspend and overeat at Christmas, and now it’s time to work it all off. It’s simple as that. Complain all you want, but you lived the highlife, eating whatever you wanted, and now it’s time to pay for it. Like financing a big purchase, you basically “financed” many pricey meals and like paying anything off, it will take time.
Your body is your bank account, and they both require a little math. I use the LoseIt app to help me with the math of tracking calories. In the process, you’ll discover where all your calories are going and begin to make better choices using the information you learn along the way. Here’s a few screen shots of the LoseIt app, made for iPhone and Android. It also is available online.
If you want to get serious results this year, you need to get serious about calorie management. It takes a little work, but it will be worth it! Stay accountable this year – and stay on top of your body account!
Learn more about calorie management with my Get pFIT Handbook.
Motivated to Run
We all have our reasons for running. Some people run for their cardiovascular health, some run for weight loss, some run for stress relief, and others run to eat or drink. Let’s face it, most people run to make more room for calories (or to burn already eaten calories) – so they can eat what they want without getting ridiculously overweight.
Although I can honestly say I don’t run just so I can have Mexican, I’d run a little extra if I know Mexican Food is in my future. I love me some chips and salsa – so much so, I’d run a few extra miles to get it and not feel bad about eating it.
Carrot Tortilla Chip
We all have goals, and we have to have them so we can focus on the the reward. But it’s two-fold. Often times our goal IS our reward. For many fitness people, the goal is to look good – and so is the reward. At the same time, our goal should be to feel good too – you should feel good once you’ve reached your goal, and you need to feel good along the way. Part of feeling good is not feeling deprived. You’ll never be successful if you are miserable. And, just like we save up our money for the things we want, we should save up our calories for foods we want so we can enjoy our fitness lifestyle along the way to success.
In order to do this successfully, we need to “shop” (eat) wisely, so we don’t overdo it. Many times we work very hard so we can cheat on the weekend, but have no idea the real damage we do when we go off our diet. If you can keep tabs on your cheat meals, it may be exactly what you need mentally to motivate you to keep working out.
On the Border? Or Over the Edge?
I would have to run 20 miles to afford to eat one basket of chips and salsa, Steak Fajitas and one drink.
In order for you to make sure you aren’t going overboard on calories, here are a few popular dishes from the popular Mexican Food Chain, On the Border. As you look at the calories, think about how long it would take to run, or walk, them off – typically, about 1 mile per 100 calories.
One serving of Chips & Salsa: 430 calories
The Border Sampler: 2060 calories
Steak Fajita Quesadillas: 1210 calories
Steak Fajita Nachos: 1450 calories
Queso without Chips: 430 calories
Chicken Fajita Salad with Smoked Jalapeno Vinaigrette, 960 calories
Taco Salad with Chipotle Honey Mustard Dressing, 1600 calories
Steak Fajitas, 1495 calories
Dos XX® Fish Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce, 1950 calories
Southwest Chicken Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce, 1280 calories
Street-Style Mini Chicken Tacos (with rice, without beans), 890 calories
Enchilada Suizas (with rice, without beans), 1000 calories
Classic Chimichanga Chicken w/o Sauce, 1300 calories
Big Steak Bordurrito w/ Side Salad w/o Dressing, 1750 calories
Sopapillas, 1340 calories
Sizzling Apple Crisp, 1120 calories
Border Brownie Sundae w/ Vanilla Ice Cream, 1360 calories
5 Spicy Tips to Saving Calories:
#1 Cut Calories without Cutting Taste:
SKIP 3 Tortillas (that come with Fajitas), saves 360 calories
SKIP Refried Beans, saves 220 calories
SKIP Mexican Rice, saves 280 calories
SKIP Cilantro Lime Rice, saves 390 calories
SKIP Chipotle Honey Mustard Dressing, saves 320 calories
SKIP Smoked Jalapeno Vinaigrette, saves 250 calories
SKIP Black Beans, saves 180 calories
SKIP MIxed Cheese (topping on tacos, fajitas, salads,), saves 110 calories
SKIP Sour Cream or Guacamole – NEVER! It’s worth the calories! (sour cream: 60 calories, guac: 50 calories)
#2 Stick with Chips & Salsa:
Don’t be tempted by all the appetizers. Instead stick to the basics. Chips and salsa takes a while to eat and has fewer calories than most of the other menu items.
#3 Split a Meal:
Most people are STUFFED after eating Mexican food because they snack on so many chips. Most likely, you will eat the same amount of chips no matter what, so split a meal so you leave satisfied, but not stuffed.
#4 Add It Up, Before You Order it Up:
Decide what you want to eat before you even go to the restaurant and add it to your calorie app (like LoseIt). This way you order smart, instead of impulse buy everything that is so nicely displayed on the menu.
Taco Trivia: If you think getting a soft taco is always better than crunchy. Think again. A chicken soft taco is 10 more calories than the crispy chicken taco at On the Border. 270 calorie per taco.
#5 Bounce Back
Once you cheat, go right back to healthy eating and exercise. Don’t start a downward spiral of cheating. The key to fitness success is how quick you bounce back after you go off course – planned or not.
What do YOU Run For?