Have you started a diet or exercise program only to fail after a few days. Your goal was lost among the daily activities of life. Your plans evaporated into that bowl of ice cream or bag of cookies. Your daily ritual took over and that latest diet book was put back on the shelf.
Why does this happen?
Why do diets ultimately fail?
In my experience diets fail because they are not practical. Sometimes they are so restrictive that all you can think about is what you can’t have. The next try may have you drinking a bland shake for 2 or 3 meals a day. The next diet may have you completely eliminating a food group such as carbs or fat. The food becomes the enemy and you soon give in, eat up, and gain more weight than ever.
So what does work?
In my experience a four prong approach works the best and there are many books written on the subject. The four points are…
- Aerobic exercise at least three days/week
- Resistance training at least three days/week
- A balanced diet divided into 5 or 6 smaller meals
- Drinking at least two liters of water/day
When I have followed this type of plan I would lose an average of two pounds per week, have more energy, and not feel restricted like most diet plans. The resistance training would soon build muscle and my body would naturally burn more calories. Motivation would soon come in the form of lost weight and a lower body fat percentage.
So how do you get started?
- Pick a plan. There are many books written on the subject of diet and fitness. I would suggest that you find one that takes a balanced approach and includes all four items above. My favorite books are Five Factor Fitness by Harley Pasternak, Body for Life by Bill Phillips, and Core Performance by Mark Verstegen. All of these plans are reasonably easy to do and can be followed at home with a minimal amount of equipment or food preparation.
If you feel you need the added motivation of a professional program, Weight Watchers has proven effective for many people. For gourmet low glycemic meals you may find the new Sonoma Diet to your liking. Great recipes created in the spirit of the Napa Valley. For the latest research into diet and exercise you might like the new book by Dr. Mark Hyman called Ultra Metabolism. If you like to cook and have a natural foods store nearby you may like his natural diet plan.
- Get the necessary tools. There are three tools that have made a noticeable difference in my fitness routine. The first is an accurate scale. This above all else is the best tool you can buy when starting any type of diet or exercise program. I recommend the Tanita Scale as it has very accurate weight measurement and will also give you a relative body fat percentage. The second tool that should be in your toolbox is a digital pedometer to count your daily steps. I recommend the Omron unit because it displays time, aerobic steps, distance in miles, and even calculates calories/fat grams burned. This unit will open your eyes to your level of daily exercise. The third tool is a Bell body ball and resistance band that is incredibly useful for resistance exercises.
- Track your progress. The secret to any diet or fitness program is finding an effective way to track your progress. If you don’t know where you are you can’t make adjustments to get back on track. I have put together two walleteer sheets that may help you on your fitness quest. The first is called the five minute diet planner or dieteer, a simple tool for daily diet planning and tracking. The second is the five minute diet motivator, little cards with motivational sayings on them to keep you focused on your diet goals.
Here are simple instructions for printing and assembling your Dieteer diet planner.
- Download the Five Minute Diet Planner (Dieteer) and Diet Motivator
- Unzip the file (contains both templates)
- Open the template(s) in Microsoft Word
- Fill in the blanks as needed or print as is
- Print out on Avery Business Card stock (10 card)
- Break the cards apart. Mix & match as necessary
- Clip them together with a mini-clip
- You now have a complete Dieteer or Diet Motivator
- Daily Tracker Card
Works well with most diet plans
Works with the Daily Diet Goal Card
Tracks calories and fat grams throughout the day
- Weekly Exercise Card
Works well with most exercise plans
Tracks aerobic and resistance training throughout the week
- Daily Diet Goal Card
Set your daily goal for calories, fat grams, and exercise
Post in a visual place on your desk or in your car
Use in conjunction with other Diet Motivators
- Calorie & Fat Gram Card
Comes with popular fast food listings
Modify as necessary to include foods on your diet
- Glycemic Listing Card
Comes with popular glycemic listings of popular food items
Modify as necessary to include foods on your diet
- Twelve Week Weight & Waist Card
Works well for tracking your progress over 3 months
Designed for Body for Life and other plans
- Weight Watcher Points Card
Track your daily Weight Watcher points
Provides a subtotal column so you can plan your next meal
These cards fit easily in pocket or purse and allow you to keep track of the important aspects of your diet and fitness program. The pocket motivation cards can be placed most anywhere with tape, magnetic card backing, or on your own motivation station made easily with a clothespin and a pencil. Good luck with your diet program. Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any type of diet or exercise program.
Other Five Minute Items you may be interested in: