Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand for men and women looking to improve their overall health. While it can be tempting to skip a workout in favor of relaxing on the couch at home, the temptation to cheat on your diet is far more pervasive, as dieters know that a high-calorie treat or second helping is lurking around seemingly every corner.
As difficult as it can seem to remain loyal to a diet, successful dieters know that anticipation plays a big role in staying true to a diet. Certain pitfalls can be expected when dieting, and knowing what those pitfalls might be and how to avoid them can make the difference between a successful diet and one that does not produce the desired results.
• Establish realistic and periodic goals. You should have a specific goal in mind when beginning a diet. But that goal should be realistic, and you also should set various smaller goals you can meet as you build up toward achieving your larger goal. Your ultimate goal as well as your periodic goals should be realistic and attainable, as nothing can derail a diet more quickly than failing to meet your initial goals. If necessary, speak to your physician about healthy weight loss and how much time it should take to meet your goals without compromising your overall health.
• Schedule your snacks. While snacking has derailed many a diet, grabbing a bite to eat between meals is not necessarily a dieter’s enemy. It’s what you eat between meals that can derail your diet. If you grab for the nearest snack without regard to nutrition, then you’re likely to find that your snacks are unhealthy foods that are compromising your diet. Scheduling your snacks in advance allows you to bring a healthy snack along to the office instead of forcing you to eat whatever happens to be available.
• Make the cupboard commitment. Once you decide to go on a diet, clear your cupboards of all the unhealthy foods that contributed to your need to go on a diet in the first place. Remove fatty foods, salty snacks and sugary cereals from your cupboard, replacing them with healthier fare that won’t put your dietary goals in jeopardy.
• Reward your efforts. As you get deeper and deeper into dieting and meet your goals, reward your efforts. However, avoid the temptation to splurge on unhealthy food, as you don’t want to do anything to compromise your diet going forward and make all of your hard work up to that point all for naught. Rewards can include a shopping trip, tickets to a show or ballgame or any other special treat that won’t jeopardize your efforts. Knowing there is a reward on the way can motivate you to stay the course, especially on those days when doing so is particularly difficult.
• Rest up. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep inspires people to crave calorie-dense foods. In addition, lack of sleep compromises energy levels and makes it difficult to focus, which can affect your decision-making ability with regard to which foods you should eat. Adults typically need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, so be sure to get adequate rest.