Brad Borland is a strength & conditioning specialist, cancer survivor and the founder of WorkoutLab.
The devil’s in the details as the old saying goes. Sometimes the tiniest detail or the smallest adjustment can move mountains when it comes to our diet and training goals. We so haphazardly tend to think we need constant overhauls in order for our eating plans to cultivate the type of change we want to see.
Do you see yourself as that type? The type that feels the need to wipe the slate completely clean regarding your diet? Do you find that when faced with a difficult circumstance or roadblock that you must make a big change in order the see results again?
Don’t. Many times, no, most of the time small, gradual adjustments are called for instead of reinventing the wheel. Staying the general course and adjusting a few critical components is, many times, all that is necessary to get you back on the road to lean-town.
Below are a few common questions you may encounter at some point on your personal journey. Some or all may be just what you need to get the fire stoked once again and reap big dividends by making small changes.
9 Hacks to Reach Your Diet Goals
Hack #1 - Make a minor calorie adjustment
Has the scale stopped moving? As watching the scale isn’t a realistic tool in the war on fat it can still be frustrating when you know the fat isn’t melting off like it used to. Instead of throwing in the towel try a minor adjustment in overall calories. Either decrease or increase (yes you read that right, see #2 for more) your calories by only 200 to 300.
Also, give any new adjustment time (two to four weeks) to make an impact. Being too impatient and demanding overnight results is a surefire way toward frustration.
Hack #2 - Take a training break and bump carbs
Are you becoming too drained during training? This can be a sign of too much of a calorie deficit. If you feel stale and your training, energy levels and overall wellbeing are suffering then you may need a few days off from training in addition to a few more calories in your diet – namely carbohydrates.
When you eat too little the body tends to slow its metabolism down and conserve energy (it thinks it’s starving and wants to surplus energy in the name of fat storage). Increasing calories slightly and taking a short break from training will lead you back in the right direction. See also #7.
Hack #3 - Get creative & spice up your food
Have you lost motivation and enthusiasm on your current diet? A diet doesn’t have to be boring. Research interesting and tasty ways to prepare your food. A bland chicken breast and lifeless brown rice shouldn’t be what’s on your menu every day.
Look up how to spice-up certain dishes, how to prepare low-fat dressings and marinades and don’t be afraid to explore new tastes and new foods that you’ve never tried before. Spark your curiosity and get creative.
Hack #4 - Salvage your efforts by hitting the reset button
Do you keep getting of course with your diet? Does it seem like you are always trying to play catch-up? Do you feel like you are constantly getting knocked off your horse when it comes to sticking to your plan of action? Adopt a new perspective and work with what you have.
Instead of throwing it all away and starting over once again, pick up the pieces where you are currently and move forward. If you had a bad day of eating one day, simply do a little better the next day. Salvage your efforts and soon you will see that discipline and consistency is built over time.
Hack #5 - Inject a tweak into your plan
Is your diet stale and lifeless? This can easily be relatable to #3. In addition, try different techniques such as cycling your carbohydrate intake, increasing some healthy fats and/or install a weekly cheat meal or two.
Take time to prepare your food and add in more flavors, research fast ways to prep food and use unique meal combinations. Exchange ideas with others and create a small community of support. Healthy diet food doesn’t have to be bland and boring.
Hack #6 - Stop starving & increase calories
Are you starving all the time? Having that starving feeling is no way to live. The hunger reflex is your body’s signal that it needs fuel. Normally a sign of too few calories, feeling constant hunger pangs is a surefire way of running yourself into the ground.
Slightly increase calories over the next few days and keep track of how you feel. You may need to increase some healthy fats or complex carbs in order to properly fuel your muscle especially during intense training.
Hack #7 - Satisfy your cravings for missed foods
Do you miss your favorite foods? As I see it, this issue can be solved two ways.
One, if you need that binge fix after a week’s worth of dieting then schedule a cheat day at the end of the week. This will have you looking forward to a “reward” and will make the week easier to get through.
Two, as stated above, you can research ways of preparing your food differently to make it more appetizing each day. Who wouldn’t love marinated meats, grilled and spiced vegetables and quinoa?
Hack #8 - Lose the right kind of weight
Are you losing too much of the wrong kind of weight? We all have looked at the scale once or twice or 100 times in our lives but who is to know if it is the right kind of weight we are losing.
A weight loss or gain of one to two pounds per week is about the limit when it comes to putting on muscle or losing fat respectively. Again, as a lot of over dieters are guilty of, having your calories set too low will go against many or all efforts in the gym. You must feed your body to function and recover and have a slow and steady mindset regarding getting lean.
Hack #9 - Forget "perfect" and just start
Have you quit and are finding it impossible to start again? The biggest hurdle to any big endeavor is to just start. Start somewhere, somehow but the most important thing is to just start. You don’t need the perfect plan, with perfect execution to be successful and to start seeing results.
Every little action no matter how small will add to your self-discipline, consistency and effectiveness building each and every day until you can step back and see the monumental path you have taken. Your journey is made up of many single steps that build a foundation of positive habits and incredible willpower getting you closer to your goals.