If you’re not sleeping enough, either in terms of quality or quantity, you’re going to struggle to stay on track with fitness
More than half of 2017 New Year’s resolutions revolve around healthier eating, weight loss, or fitness, according to a 2016 survey by Aldi. Less surprising: only 9 percent of Americans stick with a resolution through the year.
Those stats aren’t great. But there are certain tactics you can implement in order to reinforce your resolution. Here are three that have worked for my clients’ diets.
#1: Sleep more
Wait, what? If you’re not sleeping enough, either in terms of quality or quantity, you’re going to struggle to stay on track with fitness or nutrition.
In fact, one study published in Novemeber 2016 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who logged less than 5 ½ hours of sleep per night ate 385 more calories the next day. To add insult to injury, the sleep-deprived folks chose different foods, too. They skimped on protein and instead ate foods higher in empty calories.
#2: Focus on your behavior, not the outcome
Set a goal, but then work backwards and figure out the behaviors needed to reach that goal. For example, if you have a weight goal in mind, figure out realistically how long it should take (assuming about 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week).
Then work on the small, incremental behaviors that will help you achieve the goal: cutting out soda, eating protein at each meal, filling half your plate with veggies, etc. These are the behaviors necessary for change; when putting each into practice, consistently, the outcome will happen.
#3: Stop beating yourself up about food
Eating should be enjoyable. Food offers more than nutrition. It fuels our bodies and minds. It sparks conversation. It connects people. And at the end of the day, no single meal (or food) will make or break your success. If you went out with friends, had a drink and a few dozen wings too many, put that behind you. It has already happened and you need to focus on what you can do to move forward. Focus on where you’re going, not where you’ve been.
So, yes, three of the best things you can do for your diet don’t involve food at all. Eating healthfully has as much to do with your brain as it does your stomach. When you set a healthy mindset, the rest will fall into place—and the weight will fall off.