So maybe your last diet (“lifestyle change”) didn’t go well. You decided to be stricter in your efforts and committed to another one … but that one didn’t pan out, either. Now you’re trying again with different rules, but you’re feeling frustrated and disappointed.
While you may simply be trying to find a way of eating that aligns with your goals and your life, jumping from one set of rules to another (again) is a misguided approach that usually won’t lead to the desired outcome.
The term “diet” implies that there’s a temporary timeline associated with that particular approach. It’s okay to have temporary performance, fat loss, health, or any other goals that require you to change your nutrition, and there’s a time and place when the best approach is to adhere to some stricter guidelines to help you achieve goals. If you’re looking for a sustainable way of eating that steadily enhances your physique over the long haul, a billion attempts to find the next best diet that promises to make you lean and fit aren’t going to be the most effective approach.
We’re impatient as Crossfiters and we like things to be fast and efficient. Instead of examining whether something is truly helpful, sustainable or not, we throw out the entire approach and claim that it “didn’t work” or that we “failed”…all the while already eyeing the next diet or “lifestyle change”. Without careful evaluation of your current nutrition, what’s helpful about a diet or what’s not, and what your individual needs are, it’s hard to know if a particular approach is right for you.
If you’re finding yourself in this kind of cycle, let me give you some starting points to assess what’s going on. Thinking about your current life, your goals, and the diet you’re following, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my nutritional needs (accounting for factors like activity and stress level)?
- What strategies from this diet are actually helpful?
- What about this diet is completely making me nuts?
Because most diets don’t set you up for long-term success, jumping from diet to diet tends to create habits of failure. This is disastrous for your mindset and quickly drains willpower. If our gym only ever programmed 200lb cleans, I’d fail every time I walked in the door and I’d quickly give up and deem myself unworthy and weak. Instead we focus on building a solid foundation, using deliberate and consistent movements at a weight that is smart and sustainable. Diet should be no different. We should focus on eating enough, eating smart (whole) foods, and consistently and sustainably fueling our bodies. Then we tweak based on our goals.
Here are some big things to focus on that help build that foundation:
- eating a palm-sized serving of protein at each main meal
- filling one-third to one-half of your plate with veggies at each meal
- eating a thumb-sized portion of dietary fat at each meal
- eating the type and amount of carbohydrates that leave you feeling energized and satisfied
- drinking enough water throughout the day
Focusing on these big things consistently over time will help you understand YOUR actual nutritional needs. It will also provide you a baseline understanding of what works for you. If you’re constantly changing everything about your nutrition, how will you ever know what works for you? I suggest committing to a minimum of 12 weeks without switching up the plan. Take an opportunity to slowly improve your foundation before moving into another diet. This allows you to successfully strengthen one habit at a time and builds your confidence in your ability to make healthy choices. When you’re ready to tinker with your solid base and go after some goals, reach out for help! We love to talk about this stuff.