In general, people love grand gestures. 

The proposals at sporting events. Big reveals at the end of home makeover shows. The hero’s soliloquy inspiring her team. Success of the underdog like The Karate Kid.

I think that’s why people gravitate towards nutrition programs that promise big results, require big changes, but often leave people with a string of “failures” in their wake. 

Keto and keto cycling

Even programs like Renaissance Periodization and Paleo ask for some pretty big changes in your approach to diet. They’re not “extreme” like the others mentioned, so they seem pretty reasonable.

Consider this, though: When you started in the gym with a training program, were you set up with a program that threw you into twice a day meet preparation or something to get you comfortable with the new moves and routine you were embarking on?

Too often, despite understanding that strength and muscle growth happen in small increments over time, people don’t take that measured approach when looking at their nutrition habits. 

Out in the world, once you leave the gym, you don’t have your coach egging you on and helping you make decisions about weights and reps. So your best bet is to make it TOO easy. 

1. Change one thing at a time

When you first get started, it’s usually because your motivation (or pain point, however you choose to see it) has hit an all time high and you feel READY! But this feeling will wane. Start slow and you’re more likely to stay motivated longer. 

2. Start with the low hanging fruit

Most of us have at least one area where a simple change can make a big difference. For me, recently, it was cutting back on my wine. NOT cutting it out, mind you, but cutting back. My evening pours can get really generous (understatement), so I just switched to a smaller glass. 

Maybe in your case it’s:

  • Not eating enough protein at meals, so you get hungry quickly
  • You tend to snack often and aren’t super aware of it
  • You eat your meals out and/or quickly so you don’t notice your fullness cues
  • You go for too long between meals and end up portioning off more food than you otherwise would eat
  • You drink a lot of caloric beverages, anything from wine (*waves*) to heavy cream in multiple coffees, to soda, to juices

It could be anything. Sometimes, this is where a food and drink diary come into play, just to spark awareness.

3. Scale your new habit to 90% confidence

Going back to my wine change, I would never tell someone like myself to STOP drinking wine. I would never stick to that, I would “fall off the wagon,” and it would be failure after failure. But scaling it back to a smaller glass, that I can do. 

So it doesn’t have to be wholesale stopping or starting something. You don’t need to cut out ALL snacking or start eating ALL your meals at home. Start with maybe one less meal eaten out a week. Start with a preset amount of your typical snack. 

Then try your best to stand back and watch how you react to the change. Do you keep “failing?” That’s not failing, it’s data. Either find a different place to start or scale your habit in a different way.