So you're either perfect with your diet, an athlete in the gym, guzzling 3L of water a day and getting adequate sleep... OR you're binge eating everything in sight, eating out 3 times a day, running of caffeine, red wine and minimal sleep and hating the skin you're in.
Have you ever wondered if there's a middle ground? Or if there is, will you ever find it? Have you always been an all or nothing dieter? LISTEN UP.. let's get to the crux of it.
Our Equalution client Joey down a total of 14kgs! This was achieved through a flexible diet approach allowing him to enjoy his favourite foods such as burgers, ribs and ice-cream, among lean meats and vegetables.
Causes of an all or nothing approach
1. Restrictive dieting:
If you've made any cuts, eliminations or 'too much to handle' rules with your nutrition, human nature will place you in a ticking time bomb state with deviation bound to happen. Restrictive dieting guidelines i.e a 'clean eating' approach, paleo, veganism (for non-ethical related reasons) is a real effort to eat according to. Such restricted circumstances with ignorance to calories and instead focusing on the ‘rawness, veganess, organicness and how true to its original natural form it is’ can often mean that people not only don’t enjoy their food, get overwhelmed, become stressed, and are confined in options but also may not see results. Because of failure to focus on the energy intake each day people just sometimes don’t make progress despite efforts, cravings arise and it's then all too easy to get fed up and carried away in a ‘free moment’ aka ‘cheat day’ or stray moment and go balls to the wall.
2. Lack of education/nutritional knowledge:
Looking at food as healthy or unhealthy as to whether or not it can be consumed neglects the foundational science of nutrition and isn’t consistent with how your body recognises food. When consumed the body sees food for its protein, carb and fat intake. Analysing food on a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ judgement basis is not only a grey (therefore undefined, confusing and stressful) criteria to run by but it also doesn’t create any limits or boundaries and quite literally instils an all or nothing practice on the adherent.
3. Copycat dieting:
You are NOT your slim friend, and just as your body doesn’t mirror theirs your body also doesn’t have the same numeric and nutritional needs. You are also a different person, with a different mindset, dieting history and relationship with food. When people endeavour to copy a dieting success that isn’t customised to the individual and instead is just ‘the same as what they’re doing’ they can 1) not see results and 2) not be able to keep up the practice given it’s not customised to the context of their lifestyle. So due to the ineffectiveness from a number of different angles of copy cat dieting, it can facilitate deviation or strong urges too.
Under misguidance or misinformation, some dieters can perceive food or food groups to be ‘bad’ and have a false perception of their effects on the body, avoiding them like the plague. The only issue with this is they’re usually prominent and highly enjoyed food groups e.g gluten (so breads, pasta, whole grains etc.) and dairy (like yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, cheeses etc). Cravings for these foods, or how long they can be avoided for can wear thin before they are the foods that people deviate with and can overdo binging on in copious amounts. While there are cases of clinically diagnosed intolerances, the majority of people will cut these food groups for fat loss purposes, putting their relationship with food in jeopardy leading to a yo-yo all-or-nothing adherence.
People who over-train have a tendency to use it as a justification for a blowout and/or binge and therefore have inconsistencies in their diet going from one extreme to another. Whether used as a reward or under the impression that the training session(s) will counteract the extra food, additional training can have a domino effect on one’s relationship with food and adherence to a diet.
6. Relationship with food issues:
An underlying poor relationship with food + the wrong dieting method = a recipe for going on and off and regular blowouts followed by strict adherence and deprivation.
7. Lack of accountability:
Some people may be flying solo on their journey and not have anyone to answer to, check-in with, help keep them motivated and/or on track. For that reason, they may go in and out of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ adherence and commitment to a body transformation based on the fact they’re in need of someone to help with consistency.
Breaking through the all or nothing approach to dieting
1. Be flexible:
We always advise an 80/20 approach when it comes to balance in your diet. Flexible dieting in its optimum practice follows an 80/20 rule; 80% wholesome and nutritious food and 20% fun and flexibility. Of course its human nature that naturally some days will be better than others, but the underlying gain of following an 80/20 approach is that for the most part, you will be satisfying your body with its requirements for optimum functionality. As well as that, you'll be satisfying your mind with food for your soul that will allow for long term sustainability and a healthy relationship with food. Know your intake needs and be flexible in how you meet these, not only do this flexibly because scientifically you can but also because it will allow you to have more leniency with food choice reducing the need to stray and go on and off.
2. Know your body's needs:
Energy balance - not the food source itself determines weight changes, therefore, examining the calorie content of meals and foods in and out of the context of the diet itself is vital. Remember: all food has calories so know and understand what YOUR body burns calorically daily. Generic online calculators and activity wearables are often not accurate or far from it, so the best method of understanding your metabolic capacity is spending some time working with a professional who can strategise your intake needs.
3. Set goals and be realistic:
Set the end goal and all the little milestones in between. What's important about setting incremental milestones is that it keeps you motivated when you feel the end goal is a mile away. Focus less on a number on the scale as physical progress if your fat loss method is correct can be far more obvious. Instead, concentrate on through progress photos and dress size (for example) changing your body in a physical sense rather than relying on a number that has many variables that affect it day to day. This is a more realistic approach reflective of science-based fat loss progress.
4. Don't turn your world upside down:
Don’t focus on HOW much change you can make in one hit but rather how much of your lifestyle you can still sustain while making progress. This will ensure adherence and sustainability which all in all will mean consistency and results.
5. Diet without feeling like you're on a diet:
Like the above, don’t feel like every day you’re doing something so foreign having you feel as though you’re balls deep into a ‘crummy diet’. Instead, enjoy meals with your family, dining out, balanced food choices, non-restricted foods and food groups and let it feel as though you’re not even dieting at all.
Our clients are the first to say our nutrition plans don’t even feel like a diet. In working with their numeric intake needs we use a balanced range of foods and food groups to meet these while customising to family life, food preferences and lifestyle commitments.
6. Continually reassess:
Instead of feeling as though so much time has passed and you’ve seen no results and decide to just give up, keep reassessing the success of your practice and method. This will allow you to make changes where necessary and be proactive about avoiding a ‘failed’ mentality where you give up when you feel things are just not working for you.
7. Be proactive:
If you're a serial 'stopper and starter', train your mind into reacting to the 'negative side' of your mentality that directs you to caving. Know your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and have steps in place to prevent these scenarios. For binge eaters, remove your triggers in your household, learn to implement strategies to avoid a binge when an urge comes on - i.e going for a walk, leaving the environment, telling a friend or support network etc. Be so aware of your downsides that when they come on you can be reactive in minimising the control they have over you.
8. Be accountable:
On a body transformation journey the basis of all results - provided the strategy and method is sound and sustainable - is consistency. Dieting for only 5 days a week, having crazy cheat meals, picking at food daily are all factors that people can ignore as being detrimental to results and the crux of stopping and starting on diets. Our most successful clients keep accountable to us, are conscious of calorie intake no matter what the occasion and utilise the support of having a coach even if the day or circumstance itself has meant less than 100% adherence. You don’t need to be perfect all the time, it’s not realistic and possible in all cases, but being strict and then binging is what begins vicious dieting cycles.
Going through a body transformation is an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience. You will find the confidence and strength you can from changing your outer appearance and overall health will seep into other areas of your life benefiting your life as a whole. In an industry where ‘quick, hard and fast’ is the basis of a lot of expectations and marketing gimmicks, our most successful clients come into their body transformation with a completely different mindset. Instead, we facilitate and they adopt an approach of overall lifestyle sustainability as opposed to only for a set amount of time or until a ‘challenge’ has finished, all the while with the success of a science-based strategy they’re seeing results consistently which keeps them on point with adherence. Not that adherence is hard, we ensure this is easy given our clients around the globe are enjoying their favourite foods and lifestyle indulgences and are still losing body fat. Aim to make changes to your life that will eliminate your 'old ways' but at the same time not impede on your life or make you resent the process.
Become a new you that still gets to enjoy what the old you will always love! Contact us today!
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team