Posted by on Oct 9, 2014

Jason is a coach and algebra teacher devoted to bringing quality fitness education and coaching to the everyman. Founder of Anyman Fitness, Jason uses his mathematical background to help clients acheive their goals. Want to train with Jason? Check out his Fitocracy Program: No Cardio Fat Shredding.

Trying to zone in on your nutrition? Fixin’ to look better in that swimming suit? Fed up that you can’t seem to shake those last few pounds? But nothing’s working?

Perhaps you’re making a mistake or two.

When we try to fight against the battle of the bulge, the name of the game is calories in vs. calories out.

Our food choices can impact our body composition, without a doubt, but if we are consuming too much, the odds we will succeed in permanent, lasting weight loss become drastically reduced.

Those who constantly struggle have a few characteristics in common. Let’s count down the six common traits of unsuccessful dieters and see if any of them describe your eating patterns and habits.

Characteristic #6 of Unsuccessful Dieters:  They see food as more than food.

Food is amazing.  Its texture, its flavor, its consistency… we all love to eat.

But eating becomes dangerous when it takes the place of something missing in our lives.

We eat out of boredom. We eat out of depression. We eat out of loneliness. We eat for many, many reasons other than just plain hunger.

Food is a way to nourish our bodies and give it the fuel it needs to perform optimally.

But when it’s a crutch or a necessity for a good time, problems abound.

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Here’s an exercise to begin to fix the problem:

For one week, before you consume a particular food or drink, ask yourself, “Why am I eating this food?  What is its purpose?  Am I eating it because I’m hungry?  Am I eating it because it’s ‘lunch time’?  Am I eating it because I’m bored?”

The simple act of being mindful when eating can help you to begin to make more solid, rational decisions when it comes to your intake.

Characteristic #5 of Unsuccessful Dieters:  They are inconsistent in their consumption.

Consistency is everything.

The greatest diet plan in the universe doesn’t mean a thing if you only comply to it half the time.

Whether you count macros, count calories, avoid carbs, try to eat “clean,” or are on Weight Watchers, progress only comes to those who are consistent.

You need to eat around the same amount of food each week.

If you do this, when an adjustment needs to be made, you can make the adjustment – since you have a good idea of how much you consume.

If your consumption isn’t consistent… there’s nothing to adjust.

Exercise to begin to fix the problem:

Whatever your “plan” is, here’s an easy way to gauge your own consistency and see if you’re as “on point” as you think you are.

  • Print off an old-school, 30-day calendar and tape it to your fridge.
  • Each day, before bed, ask yourself, “Was I ‘spot on’ with my eating plan?”
  • If you can honestly answer “yes,” put a big “X” on that day.
  • Do this for the entire month.  At the end of the month, count up how many days you were spot on.
  • Then print off another month – and make your goal to accumulate more “X”‘s than you did in the previous month.

Good habits are created.  The more you work on your intake and your consistency – the more consistent you will begin to be.

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Characteristic #4 of Unsuccessful Dieters:  They don’t grocery shop strategically.

You’ve heard it before – “Grocery shop in the fringes!  Not in the aisles!”

While it’s true that most of the whole, nutritious food lies in the fringes, the problem isn’t necessarily that there’s some “rebel force” pulling you towards the Double Stuffed Oreos.

These ARE the droids I'm looking for. http://tk421andalex.tumblr.com/

These ARE the droids I’m looking for. Source.

You need a grocery shopping strategy.  You need to know your objective before you walk through the automated doors. If it’s not in your pantry, then it’s not in your stomach… and on your waistline.

Exercise to begin to fix the problem:

  • Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen before you depart for the store.
  • Figure out what you will be eating for the next week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  (Or just lunch and dinner for you “fasters” out there.)
  • After you figure out your meals, write down the foods you will need to eat those meals.
  • Go to the store and buy only what’s on your list.

Having a plan greatly increases your chance of success. Don’t become a victim of the supermarket marketing giant.

Characteristic #3 of Unsuccessful Dieters:  They don’t plan for their “splurges.”

We all splurge from time to time. But unsuccessful dieters tend to splurge regularly, and they don’t account for the splurges.

There’s nothing wrong with a splurge. But be sure you know exactly what you’re doing – eating more calories than you need to eat.

And with a raised caloric intake, weight gain will occur – unless it’s accounted for.

Exercise to begin to fix the problem:

Have a planned social event?  A Saturday night out?  A friend challenge you to an All-You-Can-Eat-Sushi-Challenge?

No problem.  You can totally have fun and eat to your heart’s content.  Just make sure you lower your intake at another time.

An easy fix?  If you’re going to splurge a bit, make the next day consist of lean meats and veggies.

Or fast until dinner and consume a sensible meal.

Important: Keep in mind this sort of a fix isn’t a “free pass” to gorge and then fast.  Eating sensibly on a regular basis is still the most optimal nutritional decision you can make.

Purposefully binging and then fasting… that’s an eating disorder.

Characteristic #2 of Unsuccessful Dieters:  They eat at undesignated meal times.

Did you know that in other countries, they often scoff at the idea of eating “snacks” between meals?

Yeah, I know in England you’ve got “tea time,” but for the most part, the good-ol’ US-of-A is the only place where we make eating an all day long event.

We eat breakfast, we eat a snack, we eat lunch, we eat a dessert, we eat another snack, we come home from work, we eat snacks while we make dinner, we eat dinner, and we eat some snacks before bed.

Snacking like that can add overall calories to your daily consumption quick, fast, and in a hurry.

In those other countries?  Starting at a very young age, their children are expected to eat three squares, and make it from meal to meal without additional food!

What a concept!

Exercise to begin to fix the problem:

This exercise is so simple!

Eliminate snacks!

The best weight loss advice in the universe sounds like this:

Eat whole, nutritious foods – that you like and enjoy – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Eat until you are satisfied, but not overly stuffed.  Avoid snacking.

There it is!  In a nutshell!

There are very few people on this planet who won’t lose weight if they adhere to that straightforward, simple advice.

Try it.  You’ll see.

Characeristic #1 of Unsuccessful Dieters:  They dine out too often.

And this isn’t necessarily “dining out” in the fact that they eat their dinners out, or they have too many social situations with friends. We all need our time away from our busy lives and our hectic schedules. No one should feel cornered or forced to sit inside on a Friday or Saturday night in order to stay on track with their weight loss goals.

But many unsuccessful dieters?  They’re always hitting up Tim Horton’s for breakfast.

Tim_Map

Especially if they’re in Canada.

Perhaps it’s as simple as someone who lives alone not feeling like making their own food – and preferring to pick something up from a sandwich shop.

But dining out alone can easily derail even your best-intentioned, healthy eating endeavors.

Especially for women. Women really, really, REALLY often get the short end of the stick when it comes to dieting, mainly due to their lowered caloric maintenances.

And it’s not that most women are directly shoving Entemann’s into their pie holes all day. On the contrary. Most women do genuinely try to eat “healthy.”

But let’s look at a comparison:

2 choices:

1. Subway lunch.

You decide to go with turkey on wheat bread, olive oil (healthy fats!!!), some sweet onion sauce (fat free!!!), American cheese, and lots of veggies.

You couple it with Baked Lays (so healthy….) and a diet soda.

And that was a HEALTHY meal, right? So, on your way out, you grab a cookie. Just one. After all, you’ve been good.

Total calories, per Subway’s website: ~750

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2. Make your own sandwich.

4 ounces of lean meat, slice of cheese, mustard, and lettuce. You pair it with an apple and drink water.

And since you’re at work, and you’re not tempted, the cookie is skipped.

Total calories: ~360

One of those meals is literally double the calories. Are you currently trying to lose weight? If you’re 5’4″ and 160 pounds, your maintenance is in the ballpark of 1600-1700 calories.

That meal is going to eat up a substantial portion of your entire food allotment if you go to Subway. Let’s calculate out the rest of your hypothetical day:

  • If you eat a protein bar and a glass of milk for breakfast…
  • And a handful of almonds for a mid-morning snack…
  • And a fat-free yogurt for an afternoon snack…

(These are all “healthy options,” right? You’re being “good.”)

But that meal plan leaves you fewer than 500 calories for dinner.

Which isn’t much.

Snacking after dinner?

It doesn’t matter if you’re snacking on broccoli.

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You’re over your maintenance.

Exercise to begin to fix the problem:

Another simple fix:

Stop dining out so much.

Should you still go out to eat for dinner with friends?  Yes. Should you skip out on parties because there will be cake there No. Should you stay in the house like a recluse, eating your celery diligently?  No. But a constant stream of processed food likely won’t coincide with your weight loss goals.

Make most of your meals at home.

Make social events for the weekends or special occasions.

If any of these characteristics sounded familiar, try the exercises!  See if you can’t improve yourself just a bit!

If you’d like some additional help and accountability, sign up for my fat loss program No Cardio Fat Shredding 5.0!

Happy Dieting!

-Jason

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user skampy and used under a Creative Commons license. 

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