1. Track Your Calories and Macros
I love the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s so simple yet so true. When you are dieting and trying to stay on track with your nutrition, how do you know if you’re in a caloric surplus or deficit? I mean, honestly, if you’re trying to lose weight, the only way you’re going to do that is by putting yourself in a caloric deficit each day. If you don’t know your numbers, how are you supposed to know how you should be progressing? You don’t.
Track your calories and macros with something like the MyFitnessPal app. Yes, tracking is somewhat tedious and it can take some extra seconds to input your food, but it will help you stay accountable and give you actual numbers on where you are with your calories and macros at any point during the day to make sure you stay on track with your nutrition.
2. Prep Your Meals and Snacks
Plan to fail when you fail to plan. It’s as simple as that. When we are desperate for a meal, what generally happens? You fall off the wagon and eat something out of convenience rather than proper nutrition. That means McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or any local fast food restaurant around you. If you want to stay on track with your nutrition, you NEED to be prepping your meals and your snacks. Yes, I said snacks.
When you prep your meals, you know exactly what you’re going to be eating and everything is right there already prepared for you. No excuses to not eat a healthy meal. And by planning your snacks, you prevent yourself from binging on something from a vending machine at work in between meals.
3. Have a Plan Prior to Eating Out
Look, I’m not the fun police nor am I your coach or nutritionist. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t go out with friends or family to have a nice dinner and have some fun. Where things go sideways is when you don’t have a plan for how you can stay on track with your nutrition while out. One drink turns into five. I’ll only eat a few French fries turns into a second order on the way. Before you know if you consumed 2,000 calories in one night. Don’t believe me that it’s possible? Use MyFitnessPal and enter in what you would normally eat and drink during a night out on the town. I bet your head will explode with the number it shows you.
If you are going out for the night or for lunch (whenever really), you want to know what’s on the menu. What you can actually do is start putting your meal and drinks into MyFitnessPal before you even go out. This will show you exactly where you are if you eat and drink the things you are planning to so you can still hit your numbers for the day. Again, this gives you a game plan prior to even going out.
4. Allow for a Small Cheat Meal Each Week
Unless you are competing for a bodybuilding, physique, fitness, figure, etc. show, there’s no reason for you to need to be strict with every meal. In fact, if you tell yourself that you won’t cheat on your diet at all and will forgo cheat meals, I’m willing to bet you that you’re going to fail – miserably.
If you want to stay on track with your nutrition, it’s ok to have a cheat meal. In fact, that cheat meal will give you a sigh of relief that you earned that meal from all of your hard work during the week.
Now, let me toss out a little disclaimer here. When I say a cheat meal, I’m not saying a cheat day. Nor am I saying eat everything in sight for one meal and pat yourself on the back for a job well done as if you were in some hot dog eating championship. What I mean by a cheat meal is that you can go out and have a burger and fries. Maybe you order a pizza and eat a few slices (not the whole pie). Maybe you saved up calories for a dessert you love? Enjoy a slice of it. The goal is to curb your urge to cheat on your diet when you know after a few more days you’ll be able to enjoy some “real” food.
But until then, you need to stay on track with your nutrition and earn that cheat meal. No slip-ups!
5. Track Your Progress (Body Weight)
You can diet and restrict yourself until you’re blue in the face (which I don’t recommend), but if you don’t track your progress by checking your body weight and even your body fat, you’re doomed because you have nothing to gauge your results off of. Sure, you could see how your clothes are fitting you over time, but it’s much easier to step on a scale and get a reading that you can record (even directly into the MyFitnessPal app) and are able to see how you are progressing.
If you see a theme from these tips I have listed, it all comes down to tracking and measuring. They are so important when it comes to achieving your goals – with anything really, it doesn’t even need to be with your nutrition or weight loss. When you see the scale not moving or going in the wrong direction, you know you simply need to make adjustments to your nutrition. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.