In order to plan for success in the fall, dieters need to focus on preparing for changes than happen after summer. Fall is usually a time when school is back in session and colder weather emerges. Holiday seasons also begin to race into high gear. There are two reasons why you tend to fail in the fall: You don't have a plan, or your plan is not realistic. Regardless, planning is even more vital in the colder months than it ever was during the warmer ones.
Seasonal habits need changing
During the summer months, many dieters believe that it is easier to plan to stick to your eating habits and workout routines. Hot weather can drive gym goers inside for air conditioning, and swimming and water sports become more prominent. We also tend to wear less clothing in the heat, which motivates us to look and feel our best. Fresh produce is in abundance, making it very easy to find healthy options to eat. So with the heat, we tend to eat better and are more physically active than any other season.
Somehow, the minute the colder weather starts to set in, our habits also seem to freeze and a stale mate begins with our routines. Generally, routines should be easy to keep. But many underestimate just how busy they tend to be come September and there is no consideration for the mental space that takes up.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
It is important that you have plans in place for when the weather changes. School begins and kids tend to take up all our time, with extra curriculars and events. If there is no plan in place for how to deal with the change in schedule, then failure is inevitable. We know these things come every fall, so plan ahead of time for how you will fit in your workouts and gym time. Colder weather tends to make us want to hide indoors and not go out. So a plan needs to be in place for how you will handle poor weather conditions. This might mean having some gym equipment at home for the days you don't want to travel. If you are a home gym user, then proper scheduling of your time needs to be considered.
Fall often brings a change in food options and eating habits. Fall and Winter are “Sweets and Junk” season. Football and Hockey season brings out all of the tailgate type foods, that are high fat and high sugar. This makes way for holiday season, which – for many – is a general “free for all” in eating options. There are less fresh produce options in the colder weather, which can make it difficult to have healthier options.
This is not something to beat yourself up over, attempt to “white knuckle” through, or throw your hands up in defeat (until the New Year) – instead, think ahead and arm yourself with a plan!
Planning ahead for the colder weather with a decent food plan can make or break your fall season. Utilize tools like a crock pot or instant pot to help make meals ahead of time. Plan out a few meals in advance and freeze them so you always have a good food option ready to go rather than grabbing take out. It is also important to allow yourself the ability and freedom to still eat some of the less healthier options. Framing your goals during the colder months can help keep you on track, and upbeat about your progress.
Know what your natural patterns are in the fall season. Know that you will tend to want to move less and eat more. Have a general plan in place for how you will combat the colder weather. Have both a workout plan and an eating plan in place. These things will allow you to continue to make progress in the colder months, and your next spring and summer to go as planned.
Progress pictures are usually the gold standard when it comes to seeing fat loss results. However if you are taking crappy pictures, this can skew your real results and make you believe you aren't progressing at all. Somehow progress pics have been relegated to what we see on Instagram. Obvious results in your before and after shots and no mention of what happened during the “in between” time of your photos. Over time, this has caused people to have a warped sense of what true progress pictures should look like. Let's take a look at the reasons why we may not be seeing any progress in our photos.
Why your photos suck and what you can do about them
Weird times of day/month. Whenever you take pics, pick a consistent time where they will be taken in. You're always gonna look leaner in the morning than you do in the evening with a belly full of food, and body full of sodium. Comparing photos taken at different times might have just enough bloat happening to hide the tiniest bit of change.
Camera positioning. A higher placed camera angle will always make you look leaner than a lower one. Don't ever compare the two. Pick your position: put the camera there every time and walk to the exact same spot every time. Taking close up pics will always make you look bigger than further away, and headless body shots zoomed in will give you grounds for crying!
Focusing only on “problem areas.” When you do this you're not paying attention to whether you have progress elsewhere. Problem areas are called that for a reason. Expect them to be the LAST to go and stop studying them and allowing what appears to be lack of progress dictate that ALL progress is nonexistent.
Not understanding juxtaposition. If one area is shrinking faster than another, the slower shrinking area will look BIGGER. If all areas are shrinking at the same rate, it typically means pics appear EXACTLY the same.
You don't have “the eye” (or you're annoyed by it). Sometimes the oddest things will indicate progress. Maybe your bra strap isn't digging in anymore. Maybe your swimsuit bottoms cover more bottom than before, or maybe a tattoo has “moved” a little on your body.
If you're gonna look, look for PROGRESS – don't just snap a pic to “prove” your negative thoughts of “nothing is changing!” Take pics to prove yourself WRONG, and use ANY progress as a sign that you're still on the right track to LONG LASTING progress. (The longer it takes, the longer it'll last, because the habits required to maintain it will be rock solid)
In our previous blog post, we discussed three main reasons why many women struggle with fat loss:
– Women are more focused on “weight” loss, rather than fat loss.
– Hormones can play a big role in how fast and where the fat loss can occur.
– Women generally have a lower muscle mass than men do.
While we could have certainly ended the conversation there, (solving any one of those issues could result in a shift in fat loss for most ladies), we feel compelled to bring the topic home by pointing out the elephant in the room: The Diet Mentality. Even if most ladies understand the central theme behind developing a less stressed, “muscle-based” mindset, they still want to go about solving their fat loss issues with extreme diets and unrealistic deadlines.
When we choose to diet in a way to lose “weight,” (remember reason #1!) we typically select very extreme methods to do so. (*cough* 1200 calorie diets!)
Whenever you embark on a low calorie diet your body is forced to make less food spread farther, so it often has to make budget cuts to survive (literally). Because muscle requires more calories to maintain, extreme “budget cuts” can put those precious muscles you're striving so hard to hold on to, in jeopardy. When the body is faced with a low calorie (especially low protein) diet – it has to break down muscles in order to “find” the protein it needs to survive (essentially getting rid of those dang “expensive” muscles, so that the budget can spread further!).
Most women (whether on a diet or not) prefer a high carb, high fat diet with very low protein incorporated. When coupled with little to no resistance training, and repeated bouts of super low calories, many women are living in a perpetual “muscle wasting” lifestyle. Rejecting the 1200 calorie insanity, and increasing the protein is a great starting point for most ladies seeking fat loss. Protein not only keeps you fuller longer, it helps to keep the metabolism from burning up the proteins in our muscles, thus making our workouts more effective, and allows the muscles to build up instead of break down. Once weight lifting is sprinkled in, it's icing on the cake! (Note: I didn't say anything about getting rid of cake…)
Because many of the diets that we tried in the past helped us to lose weight “fast,” it's honestly tough to NOT lack patience. Thanks to our microwave society, we tend to want alllllllll. the. things. RIGHT. NOW. We can’t understand why men can lose weight so quickly, or why younger women are dropping pounds faster than us. The media knows this, and makes sure to taunt/target/tempt us regularly with quick fixes (and we just keep taking the bait- even when we know better). We want things that happen as fast for us as they did in the past – to have the losses we did when we went on our first diet.
We say we're willing to do “whatever it takes” — but never for “as long as it takes.”
Having patience is about being willing to build/maintain muscle mass and actually stop stressing about it. It means focusing less on weight loss, more on fat loss. It's about finally settling in and doing things right by your body. It's about reaching your goals in a no-nonsense way that does not backfire in the long run: eating enough food, eating enough protein, getting enough fiber, lifting and doing workouts in a way that are built to maintain the muscle mass you already have, and maybe even encourage more muscle growth along the way.
So there you have it. The five biggest reasons why women tend to struggle with fat loss. So remember this on your journey to a better and healthier you. Dieting will lead you down a path of never ending gain/lose cycles, constantly frustrated with the lack of progress. The goal of the Diet Mentality is to make you stop enjoying your life to its fullest. A change in your diet focus, throwing the scale away, and taking the time to build your muscle mass back up while living your life now, will all put you down the path to success. The path just winds along the rose gardens, rather than plows right through them.
From the beginning of time, diet companies have made us feel like our willpower is what will allow us to succeed. If we fail, it is not the diets fault – it's our willpower. If we just concentrate harder, stop cheating and don't allow for derailments, then we can easily stick to the plan and “suck it up” for the long haul.
It's NOT you – It's your diet.
Willpower is an exhaustible resource. You only have so much of it and when it's gone, it won't matter what you had planned to do; it's gone. Diets unfortunately, take up a vast amount of willpower. So when you diet, your willpower is drained by trying to stay on track. But we don't get to pick and choose where our self control comes from.
We spend our whole day just trying to keep our willpower in check. Our boss gets on our back, and we keep a tight lipped, respectful reply. Traffic jam on the way home, the frustration keeps rising. We get home and try not to yell at our children for no reason. It all requires willpower, and it's just a matter of time before we drop a ball somewhere.
Eventually it fail. Using all your willpower up in other areas will mean it's bound to spin out of control in another. Mainly, your diet.
Dieting in general causes an insane amount of stress on us. Diets tend to be very restricting, eliminating too many food choices, or calorie levels. And dieting during high stress situations is never a wise choice. (let alone a restrictive diet at any time!) When it comes to sticking to any kind of diet, picking one with a dozen different changes to your food intake, will surely cause a catastrophic failure to your willpower. So choose a diet that will change only ONE thing. This will allow you to concentrate on that one change until it becomes a habit.
When something becomes a habit, it will not require your willpower to keep going. So pick the diet that you can incorporate into your life for the long term. Think not weeks or even months, think for life. If you cannot sustain your diet plan for the rest of your days and be happy living your life, then your willpower will run out.
Exercise is a key component in hitting your fat loss goals. Body composition will not take place without it, no matter how badly we want to skip our gym time. But consistency in exercise has so many other great benefits to overall health that we don't want to ignore things like:
- Stress Relief
- Pain Relief
- Endorphin Release
- Better Sleep
Don't dread your workouts!!
Consistency in the gym is something that develops over time. It is impossible to expect perfection in exercise the minute you get off the couch and into a gym, so ease into it slowly. The key is to make movement a part of your normal everyday routine. When choosing your workout look for something that you like and will enjoy. This will help to keep you focused and allow you to look forward to your next gym session. Dread is something you never want to feel in your workouts, so if you can't stick to anything consistently, then keep searching for that one thing you can commit and stick to and will enjoy.
As progression takes place there will be exercises you don't like doing or don't want to do so having the enjoyment activities sprinkled in between can help keep your focus and keep you consistent in hitting your gym schedule. If you enjoy things like Zumba then make sure to incorporate them into your schedule so you don't feel like you are missing out when working hard to achieve your goals. The more you have to look forward to in the gym, the more successful you will become in hitting your fat loss goals.
Keep in mind, consistency comes with practice. Set your schedule so that it is attainable for you at whatever your current level is. If you are coming from the couch, it would be impossible to expect to hit 6 days a week consistently. If you have been working out for a while, challenge yourself to add in one more day in the gym. The more consistent we are with our movement, the more likely it will become habit in our daily lives.
Consistency is critical when it comes to achieving your fat loss goals. There are four main places where people have the hardest time being consistent – Eating, Exercise, Planning and Patience. All of these relate easily to and work best in conjunction with each other for maximizing your fat loss efforts. Maybe you have no problems with tossing around some iron, and chanting “trust the process” as needed. Perhaps you don't even mind mapping out (or purchasing?) the “perfect” meal plan. But when it comes down to actually following it…let's just say it ain't your strong suit.
It's not just you. When it boils down to eating, it can be very difficult for ANYone to be consistent, but it is critical to your success in your journey.
Key point: Consistency does not equal PERFECTION!
When it comes to eating, changing our mindset around food choices can be the hardest thing to do. Most diet plans out there force a dieter to limit or eliminate many food choices, restrict eating times, or just put unrealistic expectations on their success. The key is to find a way of eating that will allow you to be consistent at it. It doesn't matter what kind of “plan” it is, if you cannot be consistent, it will NOT work for you.
The Imperfect Diet that you stick to beats the Perfect Diet you quit.
Here are some helpful tips to help you create your Consistent Imperfect Diet:
- Don't make it about “good” or “bad” foods. All foods can be eaten, unless you have health/religious reasons for not eating something.
- Don't take someone elses diet plan as your motivation to eat the same way.
- Eliminate the words “I can't have…” from your eating vocabulary
- Make the conscious decision to eat what YOU want.
- Make it work for YOU!
Give yourself the grace of being human. We can't possibly expect to be perfect when it comes to everything else in our life, so why should our eating be 100% perfect? It just can't.
Allow yourself to let life happen.
We all get busy and we all grab the nearest take out places at times. Adapting to change and giving yourself the freedom to go with the changes will consistently bring you closer to your goals rather than falling completely off the wagon time and time again. “Start over” moments happen at every meal. Just because you mess up one meal, does not mean it needs to snowball into the next and so on.
Being consistent is hard work. Give yourself the time and the patience to work on your consistency in your eating habits. Over time, that consistency will put you so much further ahead than jumping on the next latest and greatest “perfect” plan.
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