Cultivating Good Habits and Quitting Bad Ones
To be able to stay focused on your diet, you have to cultivate good habits and replace bad habits with the good ones. If you only concentrate on limiting calories and denying yourself certain things, a diet can quickly lose its appeal. Maintaining discipline is important on a diet plan but good planning can also help you succeed when your determination is not as strong as it should be. So, instead of just wishing to succeed when you are on a diet, you should plan everything in such a way so that you have no other choice but to succeed. If you make it difficult for yourself to stray off the path, you will be able to lose weight with less frustration.
Here are some of the good habits that you can cultivate:
- Planning your day in advance
- Eating regularly in small portions
- Drinking low-calorie drinks
- Increasing physical activity
- Decreasing stress triggers
- Maintaining good grocery shopping habits
Planning Your Day in Advance
Early on in your diet program, you should realize that good planning can go a long way in helping you succeed. Each week’s groceries should be bought with the diet menu in mind. You should plan your menu for each day of the week in advance and check the planner the night before. Make sure you can follow the diet plan and have everything you need to do so. Package the food and put it aside, if it has to go to the office with you. If you find that you are not able to comply with the meal plan for a certain day, switch it with another day’s menu from the same week and go shopping the following day for the missing foodstuff.
Keep in mind that if you have to make your own meals instead of buying them prepackaged, you should know how long it takes to prepare them. You will need to have some spare time to prepare your meals during the day so that you will not be tempted to go out for fast food at the last minute. If you mostly find yourself not being able to make your own meals according to the diet plan you follow, then your lifestyle may require a diet program that comes with prepackaged foods.
You will also want to figure out when you might have time to exercise the following day. Don’t wait until you feel like it since that may never happen. Instead, look for opportunities during the day to fit in a twenty minutes of fast walking workout at lunchtime, if your schedule becomes too hectic.
Eating Regularly in Small Portions
One of the easiest ways to speed up your metabolism is to eat regularly in small portions. You might be tempted to skip breakfast if you are on a calorie counting diet, but this can slow down your metabolism and actually make it harder for you to lose weight. Some diets are set up to have you eat four to six small meals throughout the day. This maintains a steady blood sugar level and keeps you from craving food in between meals. It can also help in reducing constipation and aiding the digestion. This type of eating schedule is called “grazing” because the frequency of the meals is increased when the portions are decreased. However, you should not exceed your doctor’s recommended calorie intake guidelines even though you are eating more meals.
Some people can’t adjust to a grazing diet because they have rigid schedules. They should still concentrate on only eating the amount of calories allowed for that day. If you can’t tell what a good portion is, use visual imagery like your open hand or fist to determine portion size. Try to develop a method to give you an idea when your portion is too large or too small, if you are not using prepackaged foods.
Drinking Low-Calorie Drinks
Most diets recommend drinking plenty of water during the day. It has no calories and serves the purpose of hydrating the body and helping to eliminate toxins too. It bolsters the functioning of your metabolism, which is important when you are dieting. The daily recommendation for water is about 8 cups of water per day. This may seem like a lot but water is also useful in making one feel full. If you don’t like the idea of drinking plain water, you can add a slice of lemon or orange to flavor it slightly. You can even sweeten it with stevia, a low-calorie natural sweetener.
Some diets specifically limit drinks based on whether they have caffeine or not. This means that many people who are addicted to the morning cup of coffee would automatically have difficulty staying on the diet. If you want to continue with the diet, you can substitute decaffeinated coffees and/or replace some drinks with herbal decaffeinated teas.
One of the biggest calorie hogs is the type of drinks we use in our diet. Carbonated sweetened beverages can easily destroy a diet and are easy to consume in multiples. Alcoholic beverages also have a high calorie content for the size of the drink. Juices can be high in calories but they are also high in nutrition. The diet should specifically direct you as to which types of drinks are allowed and which are not. If your diet is based on nutrition, you might want to include some freshly squeezed juices. If you have a medical condition like Type II diabetes or insomnia, avoid drinks that are high in caffeine. Try to stock up on good drinks in your refrigerator or pantry, and get rid of the bad drinks so you aren’t tempted to indulge in such drinks.
When you are at a food and drink establishment, realize that drinks can look deceptively low in calorie but turn out to be just the opposite. Many of the coffee drinks that are popular today like cappuccinos and frappuccinos are loaded with cream and sugar that can easily make them as bad as a burger with all the toppings in calorie count. Try to stick with water when you are out or carry some drink in your car when you go outside and feel thirsty.
Increasing Physical Activity
Your diet may or may not come with a fitness plan. If it does, then you will probably need to get the necessary equipment and schedule exercise sessions during the day. If your diet is for muscle tone, you will also need to add some strength training. This can be done in the privacy of your own home with just some barbells and other strength training equipment. You don’t have to have a full gym in your home to add some strength training to your fitness plan. If you’d rather have an assortment of exercise equipment to build muscle, you can join a gym and get some private instruction too.
However, most people who go on a diet don’t have a rigorous fitness plan, and toning may be quite secondary to losing weight. However, it is still important to increase physical activity during the day to help the diet rev up the metabolism. It may seem like more effort to you, but it can actually shorten the amount of time to reach your target weight goal. If you are extraordinarily busy and can’t find time outside of work, look for a lunchtime venue for exercise. Some walking, some cubicle calisthenics can always be fit in somewhere. You might even get a five minutes of walking exercise by simply parking your car at the end of a large lot when you go shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator to add some exercise to your daily routine. Walk your dog more often, if you have one. If you plan for these small changes in habits, it can pay good dividends in increasing your average rate of weight loss in a very natural manner.
People often fail to realize that exercise can also be fun. You might not want to schedule time to exercise if you think it’s drudgery, but you might find it enjoyable as a social activity. Look into dance classes to increase your physical activity and have a fun social skill too. If you have kids or dogs, schedule some time to play with them in the backyard and get your exercise too. If you like, you can learn a new sport like skiing, golf or skating. Get out your bicycle when the weather is good and take a tour of the neighborhood.
If you are stuck at home, think about improvising an exercise program through regular household chores. Learn how to do gardening as this can be an effective exercise too. You can also get some exercise by mowing your lawn and raking leaves.
As a side note, calisthenics is a form of body weight exercises consisting of a variety of movements such as push-ups and jumping jacks to develop strength, flexibility and physical health and is usually performed with little or no special equipment.
Reducing Stress Triggers
When you start the weight loss program, you may notice that you can no longer use the same stress relievers you normally relied on. You may have been using food as a source of comfort. Or, you may be used to relaxing by having an alcoholic beverage, which is now restricted from your diet. Many people eat sweets and desserts to relieve themselves from stress. The same stress triggers you had before may still be there but the effect they have on you can be minimized.
The first thing you will need to do is to be aware of your stress triggers which are different for everyone. If you don’t know what triggers you, you won’t be able to replace a bad habit with a good one. So, evaluating your stress triggers before you start your diet program can be a good way to plan ahead for those times when you will feel stressed. As you think over the situations that have caused stress for you in the past, try to reduce the occurrence of those types of situations in your life or come up with positive approaches to address your stress instead of heading toward the pantry.
You may want to think of new ways that are healthier to help you cope with the initial stages of your diet where food deprivation can be a source of frustration. Think about other ways that have worked well to reduce stress in the past such as taking a hot bath, meditating or getting a massage. All these methods of addressing stress can help to curb your craving for those foods and drinks that are restricted by your diet. If you aren’t sure what kind of activities might help you cope with stress, take a look at the types of things you enjoy and use them as stress relievers.
The psychological aspects of dieting can include feelings of deprivation, frustration as well as mood changes. You can get help to keep yourself motivated by dieting with a buddy or using a group plan like Weight Watchers for support when the going gets tough. Remember to be gentle with yourself and don’t beat yourself up for missing your target for a day or two. Take each day as a new opportunity to do your best when on a diet and forget about the past.
Don’t forget about positive stress triggers either. Not all stress triggers are negative. If you’ve found that you’ve lost more weight than your target goal for the week, don’t use that as a positive stress trigger to eat more. If you get a promotion at your job, schedule something other than a congratulatory restaurant outing to celebrate it with your co-workers. Keep in mind that when you are tempted to find an excuse to get off your diet, you need to find other ways to either reward yourself or keep from falling off the diet.
Other forms of toning exercises can also help you relieve stress. Yoga and Tai Chi can help to calm the mind of its neurotic cravings while toning the body. It increases flexibility and can help to stimulate the metabolism. This type of exercise has the added benefit of helping us to gradually increase the level of complexity, keeping the practice interesting while continuing to challenge us to increase our fitness level.
Maintaining Good Grocery Shopping Habits
The old adage “never go shopping on an empty stomach” is even truer when you are on a diet. Schedule your shopping trips to the supermarket as exercise sessions. Most supermarkets are laid out in a similar format where the essentials are found on the perimeter of the store and specialty foods and products are placed on the center aisles. You can go into a store and avoid the center aisles for the most part and still get all your shopping done. In this way, you are most likely to avoid the processed foods, the snacks, and other sorts of prepackaged high-calorie foods.
If your diet is a health diet, you may choose to shop at an organic market or a farmer’s market rather than a regular grocery store. These places offer high quality vegetables and fruits. Organic markets carry produce that has no pesticides or harmful additives. If you are making your own juices with a home juicer, organic fruits and vegetables will allow you to make use of those fruits and vegetables without peeling off their skin to get the most nutrients and none of the harmful chemicals in your diet.
You should find out which markets carry the foods you need at a price you can afford. You should go through your menu planner and figure out what you need to buy and add them to your grocery list. Obviously, if you are using a diet that comes with prepackaged foods that can be microwaved, then you won’t have to think too much about what you are buying. However, the cost of following that type of diet plan will be much higher than preparing your own meals.
If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you will need to get used to reading labels on the foods you buy. Many foods in the supermarket appear to be low-carbohydrate, but this can be deceptive as additives they contain make them unsuitable for a low-carbohydrate diet. For instance, popcorn appears to be a low-calorie food until you check the number of calories on the labels of some brands which can be very high.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, even reading the labels may not be enough. You may have to find out if the gluten-free products were manufactured in a factory that also produces gluten-rich products. For that, you may have to call the company and ask them directly.
If you are keen on doing your own recipes, make sure to find substitutes for calorie-rich ingredients. If you are used to eating canned or frozen foods like vegetables or fruits, don’t assume they are low in calories because they are fruits or vegetables. Always check the labels before purchasing them. Substitute low-calorie products for high-calorie ones. Many canned foods contain added sugars and additives that you may not be aware of until you read the label.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a safe bet. Processed foods are usually not recommended unless they are approved by the diet in prepackaged meal plans that carefully regulate portions and ingredients. All this calorie counting and ingredient shopping may seem hard to you at first, but it will get easier the more you get familiar with the foods that can safely be included in your diet plan. Schedule more time at the start of your diet to get yourself acquainted with the products and brands that can meet your diet’s requirements.
Grocery shopping can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. If your diet is planned well enough in advance, going to the grocery store or farmer’s market can be an opportunity for exercise, not frustration. You may find that the diets with the prepackaged meals make more sense for you if you have never been interested in cooking to begin with. If your lifestyle has been one of going to restaurants most of the time, simply choosing a diet with prepackaged meal plans can be a better option for your.
If you are an avid cook, you can try some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables in order to add some variety to your diet. As long as they aren’t prohibited from your diet due to high sugar or carbohydrate content, then you can start using exotic foods to help you stick to your diet. Some diets offer a choice of different meal plans, and you can mix and match them to suit your mood and help you stay motivated. This can make grocery shopping harder for you, but it can also make the diet a fun and new experience in food shopping.
“The Ultimate Guide To Healthy Dieting”
- What Type Of Diet Should You Choose For Your Body Type To Lose Weight?
- Factors To Consider For A Healthy and Balanced Diet
- How To Develop Good Habits When You Are On A Diet
- The Best Methods To Measure Your Body Fat Percentage
- Keeping Track Of Your Diet and Fitness Progress
- Strategies To Help You Stay On Your Diet Plan