Published on October 17, 2020
(c) artursz Fotosearch_k66288932
When you think about starting a diet, you know you need to do a handful of things:
Cut out junk foodStop “picking”Stop going out to eat as often as you doStop ordering in as often as you doDo more grocery shoppingCook your meals at homeDo prep work and pack food/snacks to take with youEat more healthy foods more often
And while all of that sounds really nice, none of it matters until you actually put a plan into place and do that regularly.
Planning is actually an easy task.It’s the execution of that plan on a daily basis that matters most.Anyone can make a plan, but sticking to it is what gets you results.
Sounds easy, right? Everything is easier on paper than it is in real life.But real life is messy sometimes; it can feel complicated.But it can also be really simple if you want.
What you need is structure and constraints.
When it comes to making a plan, structure is everything. So, I’ll address that first.
Think about how your life operates currently. You are likely following some type of routine, whether you’re aware of it or not.
You wake up, do your morning routine, go to work, maybe get a workout in, run errands, and then go back home to wind down.
Eventually you go to sleep and the cycle repeats.
Now you have to think about what you need to change in order to give you some new structure within your week.
What needs to change? Are you spending more time doing things that aren’t serving you?
Maybe watching too much Netflix or spending too much time on social media?
Next, you’ll need to decide what’s important. You know you want to stick to a diet regularly, so what can you do to make sure that happens?
That probably means you set aside time to cook regularly at home, instead of going out.
It likely means you’ll need to carve out some extra time for yourself to have breakfast (even if that means setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal), pack your lunch and snacks, and prep your dinner in advance.
So, I’ve talked about structure.
Then, there are the constraints. Those are the things that keep you in check. Operating under certain self-imposed constraints allows you to flourish. When we are putting ourselves in change mode, or we’re trying to achieve something, there can’t be total freedom to do what you want, whenever you want and how much you want. Without some sort of constraint or deadline, things rarely get done.
Think of it like this:
If you had one task at work to finish and your boss gave you the entire week to complete it, you probably wouldn’t take the first few days of work seriously.
And as the week came to a close, you’d start to ramp up the work to finish it right before the week ended.
There’s a name for this phenomenon. It’s called Parkinson’s Law, which states: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
What do constraints look like?
They can be incredibly individual, but here are two examples.
(1) You set aside 60 minutes three times per week to go to the gym for an intense workout. Within those time segments, you go to the gym no matter what, for a workout that is challenging. You don’t cancel these appointments; you make sure all other things you do on a routine basis (haircut appointments, perhaps a doctor or dentist appointment, grocery shopping, etc.) are done around your gym segments. They don’t get cancelled or moved for anything else.
(2) You say to yourself, “I will not eat junk food within the confines of my own house.”
This way, you’re forced to throw out any unhealthy foods or so-called junk food you’d normally eat. And since you’re committed to eating better and sticking to your diet, this means you’re cooking and preparing food at home instead of going out.
Now, the only way to get junk food is to go out.
Then, after a month or so perhaps, the next constraint you make for yourself is by allowing only one meal outside of the house per week.
See how this works?
These constraints, while they might seem limiting at first, will cause you to make incredible progress in your diet.
In my own life, just for an example, I have two self-imposed constraints when it comes to my drinking water. First, I absolutely will not allow myself to go into the kitchen in the morning to get breakfast until I have had 2 cups of water. So, every night, before going to sleep, I put a 16 oz. bottle of water in my home office next to my laptop. After waking and washing up, I head to my desk, and while opening my lap top and checking my emails and printing my appointment schedule for the day, I’m drinking that water bottle. Additionally, I never leave my work office at the end of the day without another one of those 16 oz water bottles. It must be finished by the time I pull into my garage or I don’t get out of the car until I do.
So, to sum up, when it comes to wanting to start and stick to your diet:
Think of structure as how you set up your day and your weeks.
Think of constraints as the confines in which you operate.