IX. Mental tips
Staying on track with your diet can be hard for even the most disciplined and mentally strong people. Anticipating and taking advantage of your cheat day/weekend will help you get through the times that you want to splurge on a big dessert or meal. But this alone is often not enough to keep you on task with all your dietary goals. Knowing this, we suggest you anticipate challenges and setbacks to your diet. And be prepared and preemptive with these ten strategies to help you stick to your diet.
1. Accept mistakes and move on: maybe you caved and had one cookie after dinner. Don’t let this small failure turn into an all or nothing proposition. Many dieters, feeling they already failed, will binge on a plethora of unhealthy foods. A cookie followed by pizza and ice cream is a much bigger mistake than just the cookie. So don’t fall prey to the snowball effect. Pick yourself up, figure out why you fell off your diet, and get right back on it. Better to learn from your mistake than to beat yourself up for it.
2. Don’t deprive yourself: people always want what they know they can’t have. The more you tell yourself you can’t have pizza, the more you want it. Clear your mind of food bans and find healthy ways to incorporate the foods you crave into your diet. Look for healthy alternatives or variations and watch your portions. While there is no room for a family size cheesy pizza, there is a place for a slice of veggie pizza on a whole-wheat crust.
3. Set small goals: it is hard to think about a year on a strict diet and taxing workouts in the gym. So break your long-term goals down into monthly, weekly and even daily goals. Write them down and create an action plan. Then check off your goals as you reach them or re-evaluate if they are no longer keeping you motivated and making good progress.
4. Track intake: there are many online tools to help you manage your intake of calories, macronutrients and micronutrients. Some even offer the support of an online or on site community. If you are more comfortable tracking your intake privately, maybe even in a journal, then feel free to take that route. But whatever avenue you choose, be sure to record more than just numbers. Make notes of how your food choices make you feel and environmental stimuli. For example, maybe you fell off your diet because you were at a holiday party and then you felt bloated and guilty when you returned home. Writing this down can help you realize why you made the mistake and the consequences it had so you can prevent it from occurring again.
5. Gain support: tell your friends and/or family about your nutritional and health/fitness goals. They can lend emotional support and be extra careful not to tempt you with treats. Make sure they understand that this diet is something you want to do and why it is important to you. It is often easy for others to be critical of those around them whose choices actually make them feel inferior. Encourage them to join you in making healthy choices for life, even if that means leaving the cake behind.
6. Clear the area: one of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to pitch any unhealthy food from your kitchen and office. While take-out, fast-food, restaurants and communal areas will continue to tempt you, it is a big help when the places that you spend the majority of your time at are free of junk food. Be sure to replace the junk with healthy foods that appeal to you. Fresh fruit and vegetables with light dips like hummus and salsa make great snacks. So too do raw nuts, but be mindful of your portions of this calorie dense food. Single serve packs are a great option for around the house and on the go.
7. Prep food: how many times have you heard, or used, the excuse that you were in a rush or had not time? Prepping healthy meals and snack eliminate the time barrier to eating well. If your schedule is packed all week, then make room in your budget to buy some healthy prepared meals at your grocery store. There are also many all-natural and healthy frozen meals on the market. But, of course, we always encourage you to eat fresh food and take the time to relax and enjoy preparing and eating it.
8. Be proud: don’t feel sorry for yourself because you are on a diet. You should be proud of your hard work and commitment to your goals. Following your 6-pack ab diet is a choice, and one you should feel good about. You may even want to reward yourself for sticking to your diet such as by going to the spa or movies.
9. Stop emotional eating: many people react to stress by numbing their emotions with food, particularly items high in fat/sugar. This is only a momentary bandage to your mentally unstable state and will wreck havoc on it later. So when you want to eat something off your diet plan, ask yourself why. If it is emotionally based, go to one of your healthier coping mechanisms like talking to a friend. Better yet, get in your workout. Endorphins are the best way to lift your spirits. Any way that you reduce your stress without overeating will further you toward your 6-pack abs. This is because stress has been shown to trigger the body to release hormones that tell it to store fat. So relax, just not with a box of chocolate.
10. Food as fuel: change how you think of food so it is a tool to better performance and abs, not a reward or punishment. Breaking the emotional tie to food will help prevent emotional eating and will free you to be more in tune with your body. It is also easier to get motivated to have your healthy pre and post workout meals when you understand that it directly impacts what you can do in the gym and how you reap the gains from your hard work.
With an understanding of what a 6-pack abs diet takes, both nutritionally and mentally, you should feel excited and empowered to start reaching your fitness goals. Remember, all hard work starts in the gym, but the gains are realized or destroyed in the kitchen. The good news is that you have the tips and tools to keep you motivated and on track. And when you follow our abdominal training plan, your muscles will be so strong that they will surpass you expectations when you become lean enough to see them. So get your friends or family, at a minimum have an inner pep talk, to take your first diet steps to 6-pack abs.
• Your diet is as important as your training program. Gym sessions build strength and mass while nutritional choices can strip fat to let muscles show.
• Your caloric goal puts you in a calorie deficit but not one so severe that your body goes into starvation mode.
• To prevent your metabolism from plummeting and to refill glycogen and mental reserves, periodically increase your carb intake for a day or two.
• Distribute your total daily calories and macronutrients over several small meals, paying special attention to pre and post workout needs.
• Eat in an environment free of stress, electronics and distractions.
• Choose healthy, nutrient packed, sources of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
• Stay well hydrated and avoid sugary beverages.
• Take supplements as an insurance policy and added advantage to your training and diet plans.
• Rely upon friends and family, but most importantly yourself, for encouragement to stick to your diet plan and achieve your goals.