Starting any kind of diet or eating plan can be both an exciting and a daunting time. The excitement comes from the fact that you are doing something which you hope will make you look or feel better. Perhaps you just want to finally get into those clothes you bought last year. Or maybe you are going on a holiday, or are competing in a local sporting event. No matter what the reason the goal is really quite easy to define, you want to lose weight, or if you are more knowledgeable about such things, you want to lose fat…
But diets can be tricky things to get right and they come with a lot of pitfalls. So how do you get the most from a diet, any diet? How can you make sure your diet works for you?
Try applying the principles of HEC.
HEC stands for Hunger, Energy and Cravings,and it is a way of looking at both your diet and yourself and examining how your diet is affecting you. The ability to examine your diets effects on everything from your hunger to your moods and energy levels will enable you manipulate your chosen diet and so make it much easier to live with and therefore increase your chances of success with it.
But before we move onto HEC itself and how you can use it to really help get the most from your diet, we first need to get another couple off difficulties out of the way first.
We already mentioned some of the reasons why you might want to take on a diet, but diets, as anyone who has ever undertook one will know; are not all fist pumping the air when you step on the scales in the morning and laughing in the mirror when your trousers start just falling to the floor from all the inches you have lost. No…. if only. And right after the first light headed excitement of deciding to start a diet comes the fist daunting aspects of your chosen undertaking means.
These first daunting aspect of the whole thing tend to come in two forms. First you have the knowledge factor and then then you ave the success or failure factor.
The knowledge factor comes down to understanding your chosen diet. How it works, what’s allowed, what’s not. When you eat, when you don’t. And of course how much or how little you can eat.
The Success and failure aspect comes from a much more emotional part of yourself. It’s that little voice inside you that will question what you are doing, if you are up to the task and whether the diet itself will actually work at all?
QUICK TIP: “People often share there new diet plans with others for encouragement, this is a mistake. In most cases the first thing people do when someone tells them they are on a new diet, is tell the person they know a much better diet. The second thing they do is tell you how hard they think your new diet will be. None of this helps in any kind of way. I would suggest keeping it to yourself for at least a few weeks and then only tell them when they say how amazing you look.”
HEC, will help you deal with all sorts of difficult aspects of getting your diet right and helping you travel the course more easily but one question it does not deal with is whether the diet you have chose will work at all, so lets get that question out of the way right now.
If your plan is just to drop a few pounds or to lose a few inches from your waist then whatever diet you have chosen will work just fine. There is a lot of nonsense talk in the fitness business about this diet or that diet but in truth all diets work. Yes, some might work better than others… a bit. Sure, some are a lot healthier than others too but unless you are a professional athlete, a fitness model, a bodybuilder or are planning to change the way you eat forever, (not a bad idea), it really doesn’t matter which one you go for. I would suggest you pick one that has a good range of foods and is not too restrictive in what you can eat, but other than that, don’t worry about it. Of course you probably wont get the, over-hyped results that the diet designers or sellers will be screaming at you, but that is okay, because the goal here is just to drop some size and weight, and as i have already said, any of the popular diets of the last few years will give you that with ease.
Note: If you are looking for something more than just loosing a bit of weight or a few inches then you are into a different sphere of expectation and some serious attention needs to be paid to both diet and training. For these times you need proper coaching like the kind we do here at Dynamic Identity, and really you need to be looking at one of our flagship IRON CAST or STEEL CUT, transformation systems. But for now we are assuming the latter and moving on to applying HEC to your diet.
HEC: Hunger, Energy and Cravings. Between them, these 3 words are as often as not the downfall of most peoples efforts when it comes to losing weight. But learning to understand them and how to manipulate your diet around them is really very easy and once you have that part mastered the chances of success suddenly go shooting up.
Hunger and cravings can often get a bit mixed up in peoples minds when they are on any kind of calorie restricted diet. Even more so if you are on a more calorie friendly but food type restrictive eating plan, like a low carb diet, or a diet that insists you replace large parts of your normal diet with apples or curried cabbage (you are braver than me if you try the curried cabbage diet). So let’s be clear Hunger is when your stomach feels empty, when the notebook on your desk begins to look like it might just be a bit tasty. It is not when you suddenly fancy a bit of chocky because you haven’t had some in a while. Nor is that sudden salivation you get when the doughy fumes from the pastry shop you just walked past wafting up your nose. No… hunger is just hunger.
Now if you are dieting a little hunger is to be expected, but it should never feel uncomfortable or distracting. If your hunger is either of those things it is time to take action, NOW, before the pastry shop witnesses a feeding frenzy the likes of which have not been seen since “Jaws II, the teenage buffet.” So when starting any new diet you need to take a record of when it is you are getting hungry and adjust your eating times to suite. I don’t care if your diet says you should only eat at 3 O’Clock, if at 1:00 O’Clock you are ready to eat your own arm off then 12:00 O’clock is when you should have been eating, before the hunger kicked in.
Our bodies are creatures of habit and follow the same hunger cycles just about most of the time, so this simple plan of learning when it is you get hungry and using this to plan your meals will take a huge amount of the stress out of your progress right from the very start.
The second HEC principle we are going to look at is energy. Having the energy to get through our day is vitally important to the success of any diet plan. If you come home at night exhausted and down, the temptation to just have a few snacks to make you feel a bit better can be very strong. The spacing out of your meals and what those meals are made up off can really help here.
For example if you are on a low carb diet then you will need a large part of the carbs you are allowed after training. If you don’t give yourself these carbs at that time then a couple of hours later you can really expect to find yourself crawling under your desk at work for a little midday nap. Or worse, binge eating on sugary foods to try and get your energy levels up. The urge to binge at these times can be incredibly strong and it is not just a case of having enough will power to push on through either. Your body is designed to seek out such foods at times like this, it is pre-programmed to release chemicals into your blood steam to make you feel hungry, to make you seek out the very foods you are trying to avoid. So fuel yourself appropriately for the needs and demands of your body through out the day.
In some ways, cravings can be tricky little buggers and in others they can be easily dealt with. For example in the above Energy section we looked at how getting tired or underfed at times when the body needs energy from food can trigger cravings and as such these craving can be easily prevented. Likewise when it comes to hunger; prevent the hunger from happening and your prevent a whole host of cravings from kicking in. But there are a couple of other ways cravings can get under your skin and we need to look at ways of dealing with them.
Sugar is basically a drug and when we get used to eating a lot of it in a refined condition it can cause cravings exactly the same way nicotine causes cravings for smokers. In fact if you talk to someone who has had problems with both of these substances in the past and who kicked both habits but at different times they will tell you that the cravings for each were completely indistinguishable. The reason for this is really quite simple. Cravings are cravings. The body does not have different mechanisms for different cravings. To do so would be inefficient in evolutionary terms, so all cravings feel the same. The trick with theses sorts of cravings is just to ignore them for a few days and they will go away. I know this may not be the most radical of ideas but it is the one that works best. If you eat a lot of refined sugar and your diet says not to then i suggest eating no refined sugar for a week. After the first 3 days the cravings will have pretty much disappeared.
The other real killer when it comes to cravings is temptation. This is a real easy one do to but most people don’t. Do not buy stuff you do not plan to eat on your diet. Do not have it in your fridge. Do not have it in your cupboards. Do not have it in your house.
If you have a husband, or wife, or kids then this one can get a bit more tricky, particularly if your diet is very restrictive in what you can eat; but it can be done. In the case where you have to allow for others in the house then assign some cupboard space and fridge space only to you and your food. No one else is allowed to store food in these places, only you. Then when you go to eat only go to these places, look nowhere else. If you have one shelf in your fridge assigned to you then when you open the fridge door look only at your shelf and ignore all other shelves or compartments in there. We are remarkably habit forming creatures and after only a few days of forcing yourself to only look at one shelf when you open the fridge will soon have you forgetting there are any other shelves in your fridge at all, even when they are right there in front of you.
Of course there will occasionally be times when you break and eat something your diet says not to. What you do when this happens can really make huge difference. I have had people call me in blind panic because they have just eaten a bar of chocolate, or found themselves out for coffee with an old friend and had a big creamy Capachino. You can hear the guilt oozing out of them down the phone line. So i am going to give you exactly the same advice i give them when these things happen. “Get over it.”
It is not the end of the world. It has not ruined your day, week month or entire diet plan. I would not even call it a tiny blip. Just forget about it and get back to the plan. If you can do that then your chances of success will go up by about 100% but if you fret and stress over the occasional little mistake then you are already half way to failure. So don’t let anything get you down or hold you back; success is not about being the best at something, it is simply about moving forward.
Losing some weight and getting in shape can be a wonderful feeling and can lead to a whole new life of fitness and health, but getting the first steps right can often be the trickiest part. So learn to enjoy the journey as much as the destination and remember to apply what we have looked at here to help get you past those first stumbling blocks.