Does this sound familiar for you?
I hear this from clients often, and it's typically a simple thing to check on. If this is you, here are the two most important things you're missing that will either make or break your diet.
1. Consistency & Compliance
How often are you following the guidelines of the nutrition plan you've decided on. if you are counting calories and tracking macros, how many days of the week are you within 5 grams of your goal for protein, carbs, and fat? If you are using tangible measurements for your food, how often are you paying attention to your portions? If you are working on the quality of your food and eating clean, how often do you have a "cheat" meal or eat something you aren't supposed to?
Consistency will make everything happen. You are not the things you do occasionally, you are the things you do all the time.
The more consistent you can be in your habits, the better your results will be. This doesn't mean you have to be perfect - you don't even have to be that close. However, your consistency and ability to bounce back on track when you don't comply with your plan will determine how fast you reach your goal.
Typically I recommend the 80/20 rule. This means that you should aim for compliance to your designated nutrition plan 80% of the time. This also means that you have 20% of the time to eat things off plan (i.e. your cheat meals, treats, and foods you know don't work well for you). Let's break it down to show how simple it can be to stay on track with this rule.
If you normally eat 3 meals per day, that meals you consume a total of 21 meals per week. To be 80% compliant to your plan, approximately 17 meals should be compliant and follow your guidelines, and 3 meals can be non-compliant to account for the other 20% of meals. Not so bad, right? This meal you could have a full day on non-compliance per week or spread them out through the week (which is typically what I recommend). But keep in mind that it also means you need to stay on track for 6 full day or 17 meals during the week.
Can you say you're able to do level of consistency and compliance to your plan that before you start wondering why you aren't seeing results?
Traditional diets can be tough and many people still believe that if you're not starving, you're not dieting. it has become such an ingrained concept, particularly when trying to lose weight, that you're going to be hungry. Many people go to bed hungry when they're trying to lose weight. And all the while, they're eating foods they hate, foods that don't fill them up, and foods that leave them hungry a couple hours later.
It's not supposed to be that way.
Many of my clients express that their nutrition plans are WAY more food than they have ever eaten in their life and "Am I sure this is going to help them lose weight?!"
The truth is yes. When you're eating the right types of food, you won't be hungry and you don't need to worry about the volume of food that you're eating. Calories matter but you don't need to count them to get the portions that are right for your body if you're willing to focus on the quality of the food you're consuming.
Foods that contain high fat will help you stay full longer. When eaten, fat sends a signal to the brain that lets it know you are full and keeps you satiated for much longer than other macronutrients. Have you ever eaten a bowl plate of spaghetti only to be hungry a couple hours later? Spaghetti is primarily composed of carbohydrates which don't keep us full, but do provide a lot of calories.
The same concept comes with eating salads. If you love salads, great! They can contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients when made in proper portions. But you do not have to eat salads in order to lose weight. In fact, many of the ingredients in salads are typically water-based - lettuce, onions, tomatoes, etc. Those are all super healthy things to incorporate into your diet but water-based foods don't always make for keeping you full and happy.
No matter your personal approach to nutrition, keeping yourself satiated will make a huge difference in the success of your plan. When you're hungry, you're more likely to reach for anything possible. You're also more likely to reach for foods that don't comply with your plan.
I created the consistency and satiation tracking sheet available below for anyone to use to keep track of their meals. Using the tracking sheet is simple: Put a check or Y for "yes I was compliant to my plan" or N for "nope, not this meal" and then fill in a quick note about how you felt after your meal or snack. Some things to think about: Are you full? Are you hungry? How was your energy afterwards? Any stomach pains? Then add up your score at the end of the week to determine how well you did in terms of consistency.
Click on the images below to access the full PDF for easy printing!