| June 16, 2021

What to do when you keep failing your diet

Monday I’m going to start eating healthier, and going to the gym. I’ve prepared. I’ve set out gym clothes, I’ve chopped vegetables, and I’m starving, but I’m doing it gosh darnit! I’m sick of letting myself down. I don’t care how hard it gets, I can totally do this! 

By Michelle Moen

Read time: 4 min.

Monday I’m going to start eating healthier, and going to the gym. I’ve prepared. I’ve set out gym clothes, I’ve chopped vegetables, and I’m starving, but I’m doing it gosh darnit! I’m sick of letting myself down. I don’t care how hard it gets, I can totally do this!

Thursday afternoon I downed a whole loaf of banana bread. Healthy, right?! I mean there’s bananas in there! Well, shoot. I guess I’ve already completely ruined my diet, I might as well finish strong with some ice cream. And there’s no way I’m going to the gym now, I’m way too bloated. I’ll just start fresh in a couple weeks when my life is less stressful.

Does this feel familiar?

This is a cycle that many people get trapped in, and there’s a few reasons for it. The first reason is that you took on too many lifestyle changes at once. You can only handle so much. I wish I could radically change my life in a matter of days, like the people on Oprah do, but that’s not really how it works for most of us. That’s OK. There’s more to life than being fit. When I get clients who are well acquainted with this cycle, I get them to avoid a structured dieting phase completely. Here’s a few examples of what you can do instead.

1. Set Protein Targets

Track your protein intake only. Nothing else. This is an awesome strategy that will often lead to weight loss on its own, because you’ll be too full to over consume anything else. Protein keeps you full, helps stabilize blood sugars, provides the building blocks to put on muscle mass, and overall tastes delicious. Set your protein intake to 1g/LB of your goal body weight. So if your goal is 150lbs, set your protein target to 150g per day. At first it’ll seem like A LOT of protein, but over time it’ll become your new normal. Watch your energy improve, appetite decrease, and obsession with dieting decline.

2. Focus on Performance

Instead of focusing on what you look like, set performance based goals. Hit a 1 rep max PR on your squat, run 5k in 30 minutes, or contort yourself into that one yoga pose you’ve been eyeing for a year. This will make your experience with your body so much more positive. Focus on what your body can do, not what it’s shell looks like.

3. Mindful Eating

Are you a pantry eater? Standing in front of your pantry, a bag of chips opened, not getting yourself a bowl because ‘you’re only going to have a couple.’ There’s no shame in eating chips. If you want to eat chips, eat chips! Portion it out into a bowl, sit down, and enjoy the damn chips woman! What’s the point in eating chips if you’re eating them so quickly you’re barely tasting them? Slow down. Savour it. What does it taste like? What does it look like? What does it smell like? Don’t just eat your food, experience it!

4. Journaling

Did you just have a binge? Crack open your notebook, or open up the notepad in your phone. Write out everything that you have going on. Did you eat enough today? Are you going through a particularly stressful time? Did you have a bad day? Do you have something on your mind? What’s going on for you?

5. Mental Health Check

How is your relationship with food? How is your relationship with your body? Take some time to journal out how you really feel. Now I want you to write out what you DO like about your body. What does your body do right? When do you feel most like yourself? These questions are only the beginning. We receive a lot of messages early on in life that there’s something wrong with us. Wrong skin color. Wrong body weight. Wrong skin texture. Even if it’s not something we’re consciously aware of, our subconscious is picking up all kinds of messages from the media, friends, family, and coworkers. Working with a psychologist could also be helpful if you’re noticing some harmful thoughts you might be having about your body.

At the end of the day, what you look like is the cherry on top of dessert. It’s such a small part of who you are. If you’re having trouble sticking to a diet, take a break from it. Focus on these steps instead. Dieting phases will always be here for you if you decide you want to pursue it again. Show yourself some grace, and check in with yourself. You deserve a damn break!

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