If you’re looking to lose weight quickly in order to look your very best for a certain date, or if you just want to see rapid results because you’re tired of dieting and getting nowhere, then you may be considering a strict diet, or extreme diet.
Now it’s important to know where to draw the line here. Some diets are ‘strict’ but effective, others are stupid and dangerous. Case in point, a diet that encourages very low caloric intake is strict. A pre-set meal plan like that seen in the ‘military’ diet is strict. Juice diets and long fasts though? Those are potentially dangerous.
This article isn’t about picking the right diet though. The reason that distinction there is only to demonstrate that a diet can be strict and still be good. Fad diets are generally far too extreme but you also shouldn’t take this to mean that anything a little bit unpleasant is a ‘stupid fad diet’.
In fact, for a diet to be effective, it really should be a little bit strict and it really should be a little bit difficult. If you’re hoping to lose weight without significantly changing your diet and/or your activity levels (or most likely both), then really you’re kidding yourself. This is a scenario where you really can’t ‘have your cake and eat it’ either literally or metaphorically.
If you want to lose weight your meals will probably be blander. They will probably be smaller. And they will probably leave you a little bit hungry…
How to Survive the Draught: Set Targets
So if that’s the case, how do you go about surviving your strict diet and not caving in on day two?
The first thing to do is to set yourself goals and targets. That doesn’t mean a target like ‘I want to lose X amount of weight’ (these targets are very often met with disappointment as ultimately they are out of our control). Instead, what your target should be is to stick to your new diet for X amount of days. That’s something that you can very realistically accomplish and that is entirely within your control. What’s more though, by giving yourself a set deadline like this, you’ll have a light at the end of the tunnel. When your diet feels like a real chore, you can say to yourself ‘just X more days’. At that point, you can then review the diet and decide whether or not it works.
One of the hardest parts of any diet and one of the things that causes a lot of people to fail, is the social element. This is particularly pertinent if you’re in a relationship with someone. In that case, you really need to encourage your partner to join you on your diet or to find a proper workaround.
Why? Because when your partner wants a ‘romantic meal’ and cooks up a delicious pie with fries and then wants to share an ice cream, you’re going to feel like a jerk for sticking to your salad. Cooking two sets of meals is not only a lot of work, it’s also rather unsociable.
As for that workaround – another strategy is to think of meals where you can have less (they have steak, veg and chips, you just have steak and veg). Or alternatively, you could simply shift the timings of your diet around. A great time for anyone to diet or fast is during breakfast and lunch which are the two less sociable meals of the day.
Removing Temptation and Making it Easier to Diet
When we are low on energy this makes us more inclined to snack and to break the rules of our diets. This is of course bad news if you’re someone who is dieting… because that’s when you’ll have low energy!
This is a vicious circle but there is an answer – which is to make sure that there is no temptation around you. In other words, if you don’t want to snack on KitKats and crisps, don’t have them in the house! This is like having a bottle on alcohol on the table if you’re an alcoholic, otherwise – it just doesn’t make any sense.
This now means that if you want a chocolate bar, you’re going to have to go out and get one – which you likely won’t be bothered to do when you’re feeling tired. What’s more, you can make sure you’re covered from both angles by making it easier to eat healthily. For instance, keep some nuts and other healthy snacks around and prepare meals to eat throughout the week.
But most important of all, is simply learning to ignore hunger. This is the advice that many people are concerned to give because it can lead to unhealthy eating behavior. As mentioned, you shouldn’t be feeling hungry to extreme levels but it is normal to feel a little hungrier than normal when you’re on a diet – and being able to withstand that is critical to your success.
So learn firstly that hunger isn’t a terrible thing. This is simply a normal reaction to low blood sugar and an empty stomach: it won’t hurt you. What’s more, the nature of hunger is that it comes in waves. So while it might seem unbearable now, you’ll actually find that if you can hold on for 20 minutes, it will likely have gone.
Use this as a trick next time you’re struggling not to raid the fridge: make a pact with yourself to try and hold out just 20 minutes. If you can do that, you’ll often find that there’s no need to give in!