When I think of the holidays, I think of a time of year filled with chaos and intimate family gatherings. People are extra emotional during these months and busier than ever in their work life and personal lives. It’s not a mystery why it is extra challenging for people to stay on track with a strict diet. Many things are triggering people to binge eat, fall off the wagon and lose sight of the bigger idea of long-term good health. Instead of considering your lifestyle change “the hardest thing you’ve ever done,” believe it the yellow brick road to living a longer, healthier life. Continue to follow your path, and don’t allow anything to deter you.
Here are the 6 ways to build CONSISTENCY:
1. BUILD GOOD HABITS
My personal choice to follow a keto, high fat, low carb lifestyle has changed my life. I can think. I have sustainable energy, and I am consistently in a good mood. Before I changed my diet, I was “Livin la vida loca,” eating foods that I thought were healthy, not tracking the amounts I was eating, snacking in between, and drinking every weekend! I am a fitness instructor, so I would spend hours at the gym every day doing ungodly weight training and cardio because it is my job. People would look at me and comment about how I looked “strong,” which was an excellent way of saying that I was getting bigger. The scale and my increasing pant size were proof that I was doing something wrong.
For most of my life, I have struggled with food. Because of that, it has taken years of learning and relearning and trying different things to figure out what would be the right fit for me. I have attempted to eat six meals a day, and bodybuilding (which worked) but is not sustainable. I have tried fasting and intermittent fasting (also worked) but not sustainable. During these periods of trial and error, I learned the bulk of my nutrition knowledge. I learned about holding myself accountable for the goals I wanted to achieve.
Here are some things I had to learn the hard way:
- I learned about what three to four ounces of salmon or chicken looks like on a plate:
- Restaurant serving sizes are abnormally large for anybody!
- I knew that all those Bob’s sweet mints were pure sugar absorbing directly into my bloodstream.
- I learned that I couldn’t “burn it off” the next day by doing two hours of cardio.
- My muscular body could give me the exact results I longed for.
- I learned that muscle burns fat, and excessive cardio gives me this belly!
- Too much sugar in any form would cause your body to store fat even if you are doing everything right.
- I knew that alcohol was the devil for weight loss and maintenance.
- I knew that diet is 80% of the work and all that exercise is about 20% of your result.
The habits that I have developed from this learning have become my daily routine. Mastering one good practice at a time and then deciding to add another has taken time.
Valuable habits I practice all the time:
- Choosing the right thing from a menu.
- Choosing to work out five days a week (or be active).
- Buying whole-natural foods for my family.
- Figuring out my macros.
- Tracking what I do and eat.
- Finding grace in all of it was because I know it sounds like a lot for people that are not stacking their good habits, but it’s not.
Every day is an opportunity to start a good healthy habit, like, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, walking or exercising for an hour a day, prioritizing your nutrition, and being selective about what goes into your mouth. Every day I get to decide if my day will be great or not.
My secrets to success are using a schedule, keeping good foods and snacks on hand, and not beating myself up about a cookie. I feel great! But this has taken time; I didn’t become this way overnight; I changed little things along the way and learned a lot! Slowly, I stacked my good habits, one foot in front of the other every step of the way.
Sugar is your worst enemy when trying to knock weight off; in fact, it’s your worst enemy in life. Not only is sugar a severe problem in American diets, but it’s also very harmful to the way our brains and bodies should be functioning.
Processed sugar clogs our system, and it’s almost everywhere. I started to tell people that I was staying away from sugar. Once I eliminated it from the bulk of my diet, I found myself being sick physically or if I took in too much sugar. I would get bloated, I wouldn’t sleep well, and my gut would be out of whack for a few days every time I would take in too many sugars. Some of my biggest lessons about food were centered around sugar.
We consume way too much sugar daily and don’t even know it. Becoming mindful of how much sugar was present in foods that we may consider healthy was a hard reality for me.
Here are some of the things I was eating way too much of that were loaded with sugar:
- honey mustard dressing
- oatmeal with brown sugar and butter
- yogurt with wheat germ and berries
- lots of unmeasured rotisserie chicken
- veggies and half a tub of hummus
- Eggs (I have a sensitivity to eggs, I found out later)
- apples dipped heavily in almond butter
- trail mix loaded with raisins and cranberries.
It doesn’t sound too bad, does it?! Everything was sort of in line with a healthier style of eating; no fried foods, not too much red meat, not many bags of potato chips… but my weight crept up and up.
Then I started to pay attention to sugar and carbohydrates; how much sugar and carbs I consumed daily and how much I needed were astonishingly different. I became horrifically aware of the “good choices” I thought I was making and realized I was ALL WRONG.
I had told my husband and my family members that I was staying away from sugar. When I went to parties and refused cake, no one gave me a hard time. The people around me started to see the changes in my body and complimented me, holding me accountable and asking what foods I was staying away from. It made me feel like I finally knew that no one else had; I called myself an expert.
Most people have this realization in their lives, especially if they struggle with weight or managing their weight, but never do anything about it. The decision to make a severe change will be easy!
Accountability is everything; it will keep you going when you don’t feel like doing it.
3. STOP RELYING ON MOTIVATION
It can be overwhelming when you embark on the uphill battle to change your diet and change your life. Individuals will think that they suddenly have to start doing everything all at once ideally, which is a great way to fail. Using your kids, your loving family, your competitive nature as motivation will not work well in the long haul.
Initially, when you start a drastic change in your diet (like switching to keto), you may think about living a longer, healthier life so that you can always be around for them, but after about a month, you don’t think of them anymore, you just do.
What I mean by this is that motivation is great initially, but it does not stick around. As we change, we grow, our mindset shifts, and our priorities shift. The inspiration that originally started you fades fast, and it’s not what you think about while you are doing the hard stuff at the gym or having a moment with the box of cookies.
You can’t count on motivation; you have to find it within yourself to make better, healthier choices.
4. LONG-TERM AND SHORT-TERM GOALS
Setting goals is essential; I love to set goals. I am always looking for something different or new that can make me better for my family, my workouts, or just inspire me. Every year, around this time, people are hyper-aware of setting goals and working on them in the new year. How many New Years’ goals have you achieved from last year? Probably none.
The reason why we fail in goal setting is that we think it’s something that we can just DO in one week or one month; most of us will set a goal of weight loss, hit it in 8 weeks, then gain it all back over the next ten months of the year.
A great goal would be to make a plan for your food, a plan for your workouts, a plan for your day and your life. Designate a set of hours on your weekend to plan for the week.
Here are some things I do; I boil 18 eggs so that I have them on hand, buy veggies that I can grab ‘n go, measure my almond butter servings in 2 oz containers and grab these foods when I’m too busy to cook or running out somewhere. My goal is to eat healthier in any setting, and my plan to achieve a set goal is always to be; prepared. This kind of micro-goal setting will give you great success.
You are setting little goals that turn into good habits in your daily life. When you get good at one thing, you will look for something new; weight loss will stick after practicing micro goals and forming good habits.
5. SET RULES
Setting a rule for yourself to work out for 30 minutes a day simply is excellent. It could be a walk in the morning or at night, it could be a visit to the gym, or it could be a kayak on the water.
I set a rule for myself to always drink 128 ounces of water. Because of my lifestyle, I need to stay hydrated to keep my body in the best form.
My friend’s rule is never to eat cold fries and not eat day-old cake. She made this rule because fries are NEVER good when reheated or out, and day-old cake just doesn’t taste the same.
Set a rule to eat a cookie, satisfy your craving, and stop there! Setting rules for yourself is just a great way to set guidelines. Guidelines will always keep you in tune with your long-term weight loss plan. This keto lifestyle offers many great foods to indulge in; a great rule to have this holiday party season would be to only eat foods that you recognize as keto-friendly.
6. MAKE THIS FUN
Keto was never on my radar because I didn’t understand it, didn’t want to try it, and I did not believe in it. Then, I started doing more research, listening to podcasts, measuring my foods, continuing my exercise, and I developed this keto life sort of by accident. Eventually, I searched for an answer to my fluctuating weight and set healthy habits. My favorite habit is now a lifestyle of low-carb eating. Sometimes I forget to buy bread when I go to the store, and my family survives without it!
Understanding food, what is in food, what I need from food, and that food is not my enemy has been the biggest lesson of my life. Eating whatever you want and working out excessively does not give the results most people seek. You must learn how much you need, how many calories and fat you are getting from certain foods, and what vegetables are helping fuel your body. Overall, figuring out your macros is essential to a successful plan.
I do a split schedule to keep me excited and engaged with my workouts. This way, I hold myself accountable for specific muscle groups on set days.
On my days off the gym, I do something fun. Next week during the holiday, we will complete an obstacle course and sometimes, I just dance.
We search for brain foods, gut health foods, weight loss “secrets,” elimination diets, gluten-free eating, the exercise that will give you “that booty,” and more. But the key to success in all this is to be consistent. You are consistently mindful of your food, always getting up and working out 3-4 times a week, consistently following a bedtime, drinking your water, tracking your food.
These are the keys to success regarding weight loss and an overall healthy lifestyle. As you begin this journey, you will find yourself stacking these habits until things that keep you on track are easy and manageable. Eating whatever you want all the time is not working.