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You are either on or off. You think you should be dieting, or at least eating better (whatever the difference is). You think you should be in better shape. You want to clean things up.
And then, the evening comes around. Or the weekend. After a draining week, you are powerless to help yourself and find yourself eating foods you said you wouldn’t be. And this cycle keeps repeating.
Sure, a few weeks at a time, you seem to be holding it together. And then, you lose it for a few weeks. You really lose it.
Why are you caught up in this cycle? How do you break out of it?
Should you break out of it? What are you missing?
A few reasons why this happens.
The answer is not that diet you haven’t yet tried. The answer is understanding the ups and downs of your day and your life and learning to manage them better.
Results stall. You plateau. You get bored. Someone else is seeing better results.You want it all now.
Solving diet curveballs and building a toolbox
It will certainly seem that way. Until it doesn’t. You need to find a method that works for you. And here’s the key. You need to find multiple methods, not just one. Don’t get too attached to it. It is not something to get a tattoo of. Or to stand and yell from the rooftops about.
It is a tool in your toolbox. Accumulate a few of these. One is too little. Five might be too many.
You need multiple tools. The right one for the right season and occasion.
Let’s build one!
Before we start, let’s make sure we are in agreement on the fundamentals when it comes to a healthy diet. The fundamentals are:
Outside of food, you should always keep an eye on getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
Tool #1: On/Off
Find a method that works. For some of us, turning a switch on and being strict for a few weeks works. Especially in January. Great, that’s tool #1.
A reasonable amount of time to be fully switched on this way is 4-12 weeks. Anything less won’t produce results. Anything more might find you searching for your sanity.
Dieting toolbox tip : ON/OFF switch
TheDaily9, for example, is about trying to turn things on for 8 weeks, as we’ve found that to be the sweet spot for significant results. And it is a challenging duration for you to overcome a few obstacles along the way, learn a few lessons and form some sticky habits.
A binary approach is useful at certain points of time. But the drawback of a binary approach is fatigue.
Part of this toolbox will need to be a week of unwinding.
Not a week of undoing all the good work you’ve done. But a week where you can be relaxed about things – have the beer you’ve been craving, the ice-cream you’ve not had. But if you are drinking a case a day or eating a pint a night, we’ve got issues. Maybe the duration was too much.
8 weeks on, 1 week off.
Tool #2: The 5/2
5 days of the week (Monday-Friday), things are on point. And for the 2 days of the weekend, you just relax. Simple and repeatable for many weeks. If you are not happy with the results, the 5/2 can be tweaked to a 6/1.
How much do you relax? What’s too much? What’s too little?
Ah, those are the hard questions and where an expert coach can guide you to find the right balance that works for you.
Tool #3: The minimal DOs
Sometimes, eating vegetables can be hard. Or exercising regularly. Some of us find some things easy. Some of us find those very things impossible but other things easy. Do the minimum.
For example, when on vacation I switch to this tool.
My DOs become:
It all comes down to you developing better routines for yourself. And understanding where things are in your life, and which tool to use at which point of time.
Here’s an example of how these tools can work over the course of a year.
Finding your ‘Goldilocks Zone’
These are not the only tools. You need to figure out what tools work for you – intermittent fasting, walking, swimming, pranayama, yoga, badminton, the Warrior Diet, something else.
Find your tools. Create your toolbox.
Here are 5 tips to help you with your planning:
Tip 1: Start with ‘you’.
Think of your daily schedule and what is practical for you. The right answer is usually the one that works for your schedule and not what sounds nice.
Tip 2: You’ll fail sometimes. This is normal.
Don’t let that depress you, instead use these failures as learning experiences that will help you improve. This will keep you positive and moving forward.
Tip 3: Make small changes at a time.
It might be tempting to turn your life upside down and do something drastic. This does not last. Instead, make small changes that you can easily stick to. Like eating one extra portion of vegetables a day. Once you make that a habit, add something else.
Tip 4: Always listen to your body.
The human body is great at giving us feedback on how it is doing. You just need to pay attention. Whether it is tiredness, sleep quality, digestion or something else, you will get feedback on what is working and what is not. Pay attention and make changes accordingly.
Tip 5: Don’t try to be perfect.
We all aim to do our best, but that can often hold us back from just trying things out or taking action. Aim to do a little better each day, not perfection. You are putting effort into your health and wellbeing and should feel good about it. So don’t create unnecessary pressure or expectations on yourself.
Chart out your year.
Tweak. Tinker. Iterate.
You need to measure a lot more than your bodyweight as the goal. It is not all about your waistline. Finding the “just right” in everything is key. Including this dieting thing!
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