Setting Up Your Diet

Change your environment and mindset for better results.

Bearystrong (that’s Chantal and me) just has started a new certification, probably the best strength training certification on the planet, and one part of the exam is to go through a bodybuilding competition prep, also known as “the diet”. Therefore I want to share with you the preparation before we start our diet. Because let’s face it, dieting isn’t much fun, but being prepared helps a lot and allows a smooth transition into a new lifestyle. So grab your chicken breast and broccoli and let’s get started.

Maybe you are waiting for an open slot for online coaching and already want to start changing your life for the better, or you just want to do it by your own, then here is the perfect place for you to start. This should be just an inspiration and you will need to personalise some of the strageties for yourself. Some of the points may look obsessive or excessive at first, but they all work together for a greater good. And you never can be too prepared for something anyways.

Change Your Environment

The first step for diet success is setting up an environment that makes it virtually impossible to fail. Try to eliminate every distraction and remove anything that could sabotage you. The goal is to remove any cue that could trigger “bad” or unwanted behaviour and at the same time to remove any “buy-outs” for your mind.

Do you need some inspiration how this could look like? I’ve compiled a short list of suggestions. This is only a starting point and you will need to come up with solutions for your own case:

  • Remove any non-diet-foods from plain sight. If you see it, you want it, so no candies on the table. Even fruits or nuts may be too much for some people.
  • Use up any foods that are unlikely to fit in your weight loss diet. Think pasta, rice and flour. And don’t buy anything of those foods. You won’t need them, therefore don’t create a temptation by having them at home.
  • Any foods that you aren’t able to use up have to go! For example, I’ve locked the chocolate and the pistachio butter jar in the cellar and gave the key to Chantal. This way it is impossible for me to cheat on those even if I lose control, because I would have to break open the cellar door. Even if Chantal is at home, the barrier of going down two floors is enough to hold the treats away. If you don’t have a cellar or something similar to lock away trigger foods, eliminate them completely from your home. Donate them or bring them to work for your colleagues.
  • Remove everything from your environment that could lead you astray. Unfollow all the “food porn” on social media.
  • Consider bringing just enough money with you to buy the stuff you absolutely need. For example, if you go out to drink a black coffe, just have the 2€ in your pocket for buying it and nothing more. This cue helped Chantal not cheating at the station in Krems after a stressful day, where the willpower is virtually equal to zero.
  • Add as much to your environment that reminds you of your weight loss goal. Get old fotos of you when you were in a better shape or seek inspiration on social media.
  • Set up for better cooking and meal preping. Get enough tupperware. Buy interesting spices. Treat yourself with a new, razorsharp knife. Maybe you can find a diet-friendly cookbook.
  • Stock up on things that help your diet: zero calorie sweeteners and flavours are very helpful. Bake and freeze our high protein cheesecake for a healthy breakfast. Ferment some carrots for a tasty side dish you can pull anytime right from the jar. Check if you have enough ingredients for low calorie desserts. Consider buying a protein powder: they are a convenient back up plan and ensure you never run out of lean protein.

Change Your Mindset

The next step is to work on your mindset and get realistic expectations.

  • Communicate to your environment that you are about to do a weight loss diet. Give the impression that you are going to be adamant about this, discouraging them from discouraging you right from the beginning. Some people may more or less deliberately try bringing you away from the path simply because you are doing something they did not manage to do. Be polite in explaining your intentions but stay firm.
  • Embrace the darkness. Dieting isn’t fun, don’t trust anybody who tells something different. You have to make some uncomfortable changes because your comfort zone got you where you are now.
  • Despite a weight loss diet is only a relative short term phase (depending where you start), you will have to make lasting changes to your lifestyle to avoid a massive yo-yo-effect. Realise this before you start. This isn’t a quick fix. This is serious. You will change, but it will be worth it.
  • Get rid of the all-or-nothing mindset. You will fail, no diet is without interruptions, mistakes or other difficulties. That’s okay, the only important thing is that you never give up and always go back to your plan. And yes, there is a difference in eating one shortbread (60kcals) or the whole baking tray (1800kcals).
  • Detach from the numbers on the scale. The scale is only one of many tools to help measuring progress. You want to lose body fat and build muscle mass. This is different from losing as much body weight as possible. Learn the difference, be patient, get stronger.
  • Remember master Yoda’s words: “Do or do not. There is no try.” You are not trying, you are commiting to the diet. Trying is weak, it gives your mind the option to fail right from the beginning. Stop trying, start doing!

Change Your Identity

Manipulating your environment and working on your mindset serve the purpose of changing your identity. Every action slowly detaches you from your old identity: away from a person that relaxes in front of the television. Away from being an overweight couch potato. Away from hating physical activity.

You slowly move towards a new identity: a person who loves to be active. Somebody who likes to cook and eats healthy meals. Someone who wholly commits to the process and not just tries to lose weight.

As you gradually move away from your old, unhealthy personality, and make your way to your new, healthy identity, diet compliance will improve considerably. It is so much easier to stick to your diet if it is just a natural part of yourself and not something you artificially force upon you. Be confident and enjoy the process!

If you need help setting up your diet and training, feel free to contact me or apply for an online coaching spot. I am looking forward to help you! And if you have questions regarding this topic or more suggestions for other people, drop a comment in the comment section below. Stay strong!

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