Your overall habits are going to trump any specific, in-the-moment decision you make.
There’s a few reasons you see “fit-pros” on social media sharing pictures of decadent ice cream sundaes on a regular basis.
One reason is marketing. What would you rather see, the one treat the fit-pro gets to eat each week or the 20 other, small, sensible meals?
Our online training clients can confirm for you: You can have a treat from time to time, but not many of your meals will look like the food porn you see on Instagram.
But the other reason “fit-pros” can get away with treats like this is because of the overall habits of the fit-pro.
Your overall habits are going to dictate your body composition.
If you’re on point for a significant amount of time, then one meal (or even a full weekend) won’t do much to negate your progress.
The key to being able to survive such a splurge is simple.
You must be consistently on point for many days (perhaps even weeks) leading up to the splurge, and you must be on point the-very-second the splurge is over.
The page must be turned fast.
Even a few, short weeks of ad libitum eating will add fat to your frame quickly.
Once the fat cell has been created, you can lose the weight, but the shrunken fat cell will still be there, waiting for you to screw up and eat that extra slice of cheesecake.
Calories count, but not everyone wants to count them explicitly.
But if you’re not interested in counting macronutrients, or that sort of a set up would cause needless obsession, there are habits you can set in place to help you indirectly lower your energy intake.
While I’m not perfect, I’ve mastered a few of these habits that have helped me with my overall dietary consistency.
The following, seven habits make dieting simpler and easier to execute.
They don’t require much mental power to tackle, and they help me focus on the big picture.
7 Simple Habits To Trim Your Waistline
Habit #1: Pack your lunch for work.
It’s easy to see why this straightforward, simple habit is so elusive for so many.
We leave our suburban McMansions, driving our oversized SUVs to the office.
We sit down at our comfortable computer chairs, and start typing away.
Meetings, emails, sales reports…..the hustle and bustle of the office, and the stress that comes with it, surrounds us.
Come noon? Everyone wants to leave. And for good reason.
Dining out during the work week becomes an anxiety crutch for many. It’s a pacifier. For an hour, you can shove some fat, salt, and sugar down your gullet, and pretend like you’re a free man or woman.
Of course, it’s just a facade, as you saunter back to your cubicle and fight off the mid-afternoon crash.
One of the most important habits you can master is the habit of packing your lunch at home, bringing it to work, and eating it.
If you can master this habit, and stick to it, you will improve your waistline, your bank account, and your work productivity.
A sandwich and an apple might not be as sexy as Chipotle, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Habit #2: Skip Happy Hour and meet up with the gang later.
Nothing against Happy Hour.
Happy Hour is another “pacifier” for our lives. The work day is finished and it’s time to go “let off steam” with microbrews and high-calorie appetizers.
Instead of regularly heading directly to the pub, meet up with your co-workers a few hours later.
Make your Happy Hour at the gym and go hard for an hour.
Go home, clean yourself up, and eat a sensible meal instead of spinach-and-artichoke dips and chicken wings.
And THEN go meet up with your work friends.
You’ll feel better about yourself, save yourself some overall calories, and at the end of the evening, you’ll likely find yourself less drunk. Which means you’ll be less hungover the next morning.
Habit #3: Never partake in “work treats”.
This is the part where I tell you that “flexible dieting” has issues.
Sure, IIFYM says you can eat anything you wish as long as you hit your macros.
But if there are trigger foods which will cause you to head down the path of binging and self-loathing, it’s best to steer clear of those foods.
Silly, little food rules are unnecessary when on a diet.
You don’t need to “skip carbs past 6 pm”, or “eat 6 meals per day”.
At the same time, setting up arbitrary guidelines for your diet and consumption can help you get over the proverbial hump.
A simple rule I personally implement is I never partake in a treat someone offers me at work.
As a teacher, there are always cookies, muffins, bagels, candy, etc. in our breakrooms. Every meeting, someone breaks out a huge bag of chocolate.
Do you sense the “work = shit food = pacifier” connection yet?
When I looked in the mirror and realized I was about 100 pounds overweight, I needed to make some decisions and set up some firm parameters to ensure success.
No more candies, no more cookies, no more left over pieces of pizza, no more nonsense, period.
At work, I would eat my lunch and nothing else.
Over the course of a year, you can only imagine how many calories that saves me.
***Warning: You will get weird looks and people will comment when you begin to consistently turn down treats. I even once was called a “health freak” because I said I didn’t want any Christmas cookies.
Habit #4: Learn to cook simple, tasty, and healthy meals.
When I first began to trim off the excess blubber, I was constantly searching for elaborate, “fitness-inspired” meals.
I tried to make protein cheesecakes, low-carb muffins, and other “high protein, low everything else” recipes with tons of ingredients in them.
Although some of the meals were quite good, I didn’t realize at the time that most people (myself included) don’t have the time to be constantly making meals like this.
Most people have to go to work.
Many people my age have children of their own along with their careers. If your meals contain more than just a few ingredients, they probably won’t be made on a regular basis.
If you’re struggling to find good, wholesome, healthy meals, remember you can’t go wrong with a piece of meat, some whole food carbs, and some veggies.
You probably won’t win any culinary awards with meals like this. But they will certainly help you accomplish your physique goals.
A few simple, meal examples you can easily fit into your macros:
- Mexican night – tacos or fajitas
- Seasoned chicken
- Pork chops
- Sloppy Joes
- Marinated kebabs
- Crockpot meals – beef stews, chicken soups, etc.
Any of these meats can be combined with some rice/potatoes and veggies to make a wholesome, complete meal in minutes.
Habit #5: Set a “water goal” each day.
Thirst can be easily mistaken for hunger.
The easiest way to make sure you’re properly hydrated is to set “water goals” for certain time periods during the day.
Granted, my day job as a teacher makes this simple. Every 55 minutes, the bell rings and a new group of kids walks through my door.
I set a goal of one liter of water every 2 class periods, and then I’m on point for the day.
You may need to get a bit fancier. Set some alarms on your laptop or your cell phone.
Giving yourself clear, defined goals for water consumption will help to ensure that it happens.
Habit #6: “Close the kitchen” immediately after dinner.
When I was in college, after eating dinner my dishes had a shelf-life of about a week before they were cleaned.
That’s what happens when four 19-year olds are sharing an apartment together.
When I got engaged my senior year of college, my fiance (now my wife) made it clear to me: I needed to get a bit neater if we were to move in with each other.
I took care of business and developed a habit which has paid dividends for me.
As soon as we are finished eating dinner, we “close the kitchen” and scrub all of the dishes, pots, and pans.
We wipe off all the counters, close all the pantries, put away all of the condiments, and leave the room.
At that point, the kitchen is “off limits” and feeding time is over.
When I began this habit, I was only doing it so that my dishes wouldn’t pile up with nasty, crusty food on them.
After some time had passed, I realized the act of closing the kitchen was having a favorable effect on my calorie consumption. Once the kitchen was closed, “eating time” was over. The food was put away for the evening.
Such a simple thing, and it works like a charm.
Habit #7: Never eat someone else’s food or leftovers.
I’ve always been seen as a “human garbage disposal”.
That tends to happen when you’re 6’8″ and have pushed the scales at 300 pounds before.
Whenever friends are around, and they can’t finish their meal, they ask me if I want to finish it for them.
I’ve had friends buy me multiple plates at their weddings since my appetite was so large.
My Mother In Law famously used to make two trays of lasagna for the family back when I was courting my wife. One tray was for her entire family.
The other tray was for me.
It’s not enough to plan your own meals, make your own meals, and eat your own meals.
You then need to be sure you don’t eat anyone ELSE’S meals, either.
If someone has leftovers, let them have leftovers.
If there is a bit of food left after dinner, it’s not your responsibility to polish off all of the leftovers.
This is especially true if you have kids.
If you have children, it is certain that there will be times when you make them food and they don’t eat it.
Shocker, I know.
It’s so difficult to then take that meal you just made and throw it into the garbage can.
We equate this with not only food waste, but money waste as well. There’s a sunk cost here. You’ve bought the food and prepared the food – and now you’re going to throw away all that hard work and money.
It’s tough to separate yourself from this situation, but I can assure you there has never been an African child who has filled their belly from leftovers they obtained from your garbage can.
If you decide to polish off food in an attempt to “save face”, the only thing you’ll be doing is adding extra calories to your diet and extra pounds to your waistline.
None of these 7, simple habits will directly cause you to lose fat.
Only reducing your calories will do that.
But being mindful of how your habits can affect your bottom line is a great start in automating your fat loss and learning how to stay lean more effortlessly.
Yours in true health,