It is easy to go on a 2-week diet or to adhere to a 4-week meal plan but is it sustainable and effective in the long term? No. What is hard is keeping healthy habits going for the days, weeks, months and years. There is a big difference between what a healthy diet looks like on paper vs real life. If you want to keep things going for the long-term you’ve got to be adaptable, you’ve got to be resourceful, and most importantly, you’ve got to be kind to yourself.
I always say this, but the reality is, there is no best diet, and there is no perfect diet. It just doesn’t exist. We are all different, biochemically unique, and have different needs. We are different ages and genders, with different heights, weights, and backgrounds. We have different interests, activity levels, and health goals. So, to think that there is one ‘perfect’ diet that will work for everyone is not realistic.
The perfect diet is simply the one that you enjoy, makes you feel your best, and that you can maintain for the long-term.
1. Focus on WHY-power
Willpower is a limited resource. If you rely on willpower to help you eat healthily or work out more you might find this tactic does not work. Instead, focus on your why-power. What is the true reason you want to eat better or be more active? Right it down, and reinforce the ‘why’, instead of the ‘will’. Try writing this down in a journal, or on a post-it note that you can put on the fridge or the mirror as a daily reminder as to why you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
2. Set realistic goals
Your intentions may be pure, but do you find you keep setting goals you can't achieve? Are you being realistic about them? The thing about eating well is that you need to enjoy what you are doing if you want to keep doing it. You need to think about what you like and what you don’t like, and what you are willing to change and what you are not willing to change. There are about a hundred different ways to eat well, and in order to make it last, you need to transform habits that work best for you.
3. Be open to failure
Regardless of where you are in your health journey, or what you are looking to accomplish, you need to be open to the idea that things are not always going to go the way you want them to.
The only way to learn is by doing. You likely didn’t start walking the first time you tried or knew how to ride a bike the first time, you likely learned from trying and failing and trying again. Unfortunately, so many people are afraid to fail that it stops them from even trying in the first place.
The only way to figure out what works best for you is to try different things, there are no shortcuts, and there is nothing wrong with that! Anyone who has experienced success knows that there are bumps in the road along the way, but without those bumps, success does not exist. Success is a slow road, not a quick fix, and the actual journey is a far more valuable lesson than reaching the goal.
4. Let go of the ‘all or nothing’ approach
One of the biggest mental blocks for people is going into their healthy changes with an “all or nothing” mentality; you are either doing everything perfectly all of the time or you are doing nothing at all.
But let me tell you something…you will eat cake again and you will eat chocolates again. Instead of forcing yourself to have the perfect diet, you need to focus on creating new habits that will make you feel great but still allow you to live your life. You aren’t going to ‘ruin’ all of your progress just because you ate one piece of cake. It is important to keep in mind that having a treat every now and again can be an important part of the process. Of course, keeping it to a minimum is key, but you don’t need to keep it to nothing at all.
5. Have a handful of food recipes
I truly believe that one of the biggest secrets to eating well for the long-term is the ability to cook. You don’t need to be a professional chef or have the latest kitchen utensils, but a few basic skills in the kitchen will make things a whole lot easier. Having a handful of simple basic recipes, you can take something really simple and make it taste really good, which makes the process of eating well so much more enjoyable!
Diets and plans are not sustainable in the long-term. Remove the ‘quick-results’ mentality and focus on long-term changes, otherwise, you may find yourself worse-off in a few months than when you started. Slow and steady wins the race. Focus on LIFESTYLE changes, know your why-power, be kind to yourself, realise that you won’t do things ‘perfectly’ all of the time, and notice that it is important to experience bumps in the road and learn the lessons from them. Learning to eat a healthy diet is not an end goal, the goal is the journey.