1.They focus on individual meals instead of focusing on their overall way of eating
When we have an erroneous idea of healthy eating and an unhealthy attitude towards food in general, we obsess too much about the little things and fail to see the big picture. We have all done that – our portions are tightly controlled and we have a very clear idea of how many almonds we should eat, how many sweet potato wedges our portion should contain and how big the apple in our afternoon snack should be. If we lose control for some reason and eat 5 almonds more or a few extra sweet potato wedges, we feel like a failure. We think we are not doing well. Or if we add something unplanned to our food, for example if we have a truffle or a few bites of a protein bar, we decide that it’s all over now. All day long our mind is occupied by thoughts about what food we overate and little by little we get trapped in the vicious cycle of self-blame. That is when we decide to call it quits and binge on everything we have been avoiding.
This is the most frequent outcome, but it is so wrong. Even if you have an extra meal today, i.e. you eat 5 instead of 4 times, this will not make you fat, nor will it upset your eating plan and the results you have achieved.
Fit people realize that the body is not static and its needs vary on a daily basis. They know it’s all about balance, but balance is not a scale that stays still all the time. Balance is the sum of all our choices – sometimes one of the weighing pans is heavier and sometimes the other one is, but one action negates the other.
Today you will eat a little more, but your body will get what it needs and over the next days you will eat even less than you planned.
Don’t obsess about individual meals, but look at the big picture of what you consume in principle.
2.They restrict their food intake during the first half of the day too much
We can draw a parallel to people who work out and use up their resources at the very beginning of the workout, so they get tired too soon. Then the rest of the workout is performed in a mediocre way and at the end they feel dissatisfied.
Starting your day with an inadequate meal – one that is restricted and does not provide your body with what it needs – means that you will use up your willpower and mindfulness at the very start of the day.
Many people tell me they get stronger carbohydrate cravings in the afternoon and evening and this is when they overeat. These same people usually eat too little in the morning and at lunch and then they simply can’t stand the pressure and binge on the first thing they lay eyes on.
Don’t be one of those people. Distribute your food intake evenly. Start your day with an adequate meal to avoid making up for the missed calories during the second half of the day.
3.They stick to an “all or nothing” approach
People who fail with diets usually prioritize extremes instead of persistence. These are the people who, once they go on a diet, go to the extreme of eating only food that contains mostly protein and add leafy greens – their food lacks any kind of color. They starve, but then they end up overeating and this is when they offset all the deficit they have created.
This kind of people don’t understand that, in order to be fit, a person has to be persistent in their actions and not go to extremes. What matters is not what you do on 3-4 days of the week, but what you choose to do every day – throughout the year.
A moderate approach is what leads to more lasting and satisfying results. A more extreme approach leads to short-term progress which is quickly offset by the lasting regress.
4.They believe that hunger is a sign of a good diet and the road to results
You have no idea how many of the people I work with write to me after the first week: “Ines, I can’t believe I am losing weight, but I am not hungry.“
Hunger is not a sign of a good diet. Hunger is a sign of an inadequate diet. Hunger is a sign that the body is not getting what it needs. Hunger is a sign that we are using up each and every resource of the body – both the physical and the psychological ones.
Believing that you have to go hungry to lose weight is the same as believing that you have to train through the physical pain of the injury in order to be fit. People who ignore the pain in their body are usually always injured and can never train in an adequate way and achieve their goals. People who realize that physical pain is a signal that something is wrong and pay attention to it by slowing down normally preserve their body’s resources long-term and achieve much better results.
The same is true for hunger and diets – hunger is a signal from the body. If we ignore it, we will always be taking one step forward and three steps backward. If we use it as a warning, we will make quick progress.
5.They don’t listen to their body, but stick to the eating plan they have received
Here we can once again draw a parallel to training. We have all been through the stage where we don’t pay attention to whether something is too much or not enough for us. If the plan says 3 sets of 12 repetitions with “X” weight, this is what we do. At the end of the set we may feel we did not get enough exertion, but after all this is what the plan says.
Alternatively, we may experience some kind of pain or feel very tired today, but since the plan says “X” weight, we won’t reduce it and we will risk injuring ourselves.
This is the difference between experienced exercisers and those who don’t train mindfully. An experienced exerciser monitors their body’s signals and is prepared to modify the sets, number of repetitions, weight and even the exercise itself in order to get as much benefit as possible out of the workout.
The same is true of diet. Quite often people may experience heaviness or unwillingness to eat a food, but they won’t stop before they have eaten the entire serving, nor will they change the content. They mechanically measure out “X” grams of the food in question and this is the amount they eat. They don’t ask themselves if this is too much for them or quite the contrary – not enough.
One of the most surefire ways for you to listen to your body is to ask yourselves before a meal if you really feel like eating this food.
In order to achieve results, you should stop when you feel you have reached satiety, and not feel obliged to eat up the whole portion.
In order to achieve results, you need to modify your food intake depending on your current condition and not to stick blindly with something that is static – as you already know, the body is dynamic.