Snapping Out of a Bad Diet Rut

I’ve got to confess I’ve got a crappy diet. I seriously need to snap out of it. My main crime …Ice Cream, Chocolate Bars and Late Night eating.

I’m 233 lbs and the scale isn’t moving and it isn’t going to go anywhere without a better diet.

I’ve done calorie counting in the past…I am just very, very low in motivation on the diet. Exercise I am doing fine with.

I am not usually an unmotivated guy, but for some reason I am self sabotaging right now.

Anyone else do the yo-yo thing and how did you snap out of it?

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  1. “Snapping out” is biggest blocker. Body stubbornly attempts to maintain current state and sudden changes will affect it’s balance and your mood. For lasting effect do changes slowly and gradually. I used to drink coffee with 5 spoon of sugar. It took month to go down to one spoonful. Once there, coffee with more sugar tasted nauseating.
  2. Monitor your habits to see if something specific triggers hunger and try work around that. For example, postponing recovery drink too long after hard workout will only increase hunger later
  3. Composition of your diet. Protein-rich food is usually more satiating. But this is more complex topic, there are many diets with different goals. Use some app that monitors your macro- and micronutrients intake. Imbalance there can end badly over long time.
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Work on your processes not your motivation.

Change your environment to meet your desired goals.

Don’t rely on discipline, it’s fickle.

I used to never crave takeaways. Now I get cravings quite often. What changed? Previously I had no driving license and lived rurally where there were no takeaway options. Now I have all the options.

Our habits define our actions and our actions define us.

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From my own experience, I’d recommend making dietary changes more gradually- rather than trying to be perfect overnight I’d focus on establishing one habit at a time. Go for the low-hanging fruit first- i.e those that are “easiest” to change- It’s motivating to have small successes and you may well find that you can keep some small indulgences in there once you’ve got the majority of your diet sorted. (I think that’s the long term goal, at least :P) I don’t think full-on calorie counting is necessary for everyone, but I’d recommend tracking your current diet for a couple of days just so you can get an objective picture of where you’re at and what you can improve upon.

This is super corny, but it’s kind of like training- build it up gradually, prioritize consistency, focus on the big gains before you sweat the marginal stuff, and think of it as a long term thing rather than passing/failing an individual day. And when you’re not as “good”- be that planned or unplanned- that doesn’t mean you’ve undone all your previous work, much like a recovery week or failed workout doesn’t mean you give up riding altogether.

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I like this. Is this your own thinking on there some reading material you’d suggest?

I am the same type of a guy - the only difference is two times smaller than you haha :smiley:

My experience is - don’t do it gradually. I mean - gradually changes of your diet are ok, but about sweets it is not going to work. I had to just stop eating sweets in one moment, all of it - because one bite results another, and then much much more - it’s nearly impossible to eat “just a little bit” of favorite ice cream unless your will power is super strong - but you post this topic so it obviously isn’t :slight_smile:

First week is hard, very hard. The second not much better. Then it becomes simply easy to not look for sweets, job done. Then the easy part :slight_smile: Without sweets you can eat much more which means good diet and no hunger, especially if you are a big guy. Easy.

I’ve done it several times and always got back to sweets after some time (autumn, end of season, christmas), then again it easily becomes a bad habit. Sweets are just legal drugs. Addiction like any other kind of addiction, but fully legal and not that unhealthy like others.

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Summarised from about 3 books but the main one is Atomic Habits by James Clear.

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What helps me are tracking streaks.

So basically try to adapt a healthier habit and then track your adherence. It will be way easier to not eat that trash when you see that it would mean you break your x day success streak.

There are terrific apps available for this. I am using Streaks for the Apple Watch.

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This is helpful…much appreciated

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1 - Make smaller dietary changes incrementally over time. You need to be able to sustain the changes and make them lifestyle changes. Yo-yo behavior usually involves a number of large changes at one time and they aren’t sustainable. Many people also don’t seem to realize that once they reach the target weight those dietary and behavioral changes need to remain, one can’t revert to the previous diet and behaviors because those are what got them to where they started.

2 - Identify ‘problem’ foods and either find substitutions or eliminate them. I think substitutions are better as they mostly meet the craving and help avoid relapse / bingeing. If icecream is a weakness, try googling ‘protein icecream’. I’m not a huge icecream person but recently started making it and I can get 1.2 liters of volume for ~200 calories. I feel almost disgustingly full after eating it. Cookies are a weakness for me and I don’t have a good substitute, so I don’t buy them and don’t keep them in the house.

3 - Low calorie density foods are a key. You can eat a lot of volume and feel full and keep calories under control.

4 - Structure your environment for success. Make the decisions ahead of time, when you have the energy to make them, that give you an environment that enables reaching your goals when you don’t have the energy to make good choices. That could be setting out your kit at night so its ready for when you get up and work out. It could be ensuring better foods are available for snacking when you need one.

I know others have suggested making small changes, however, that never worked for me. What finally worked for me was to go all-in, cold turkey. My biggest weaknesses were mint chocolate chip ice cream, sugar cookies and Cokes. When I finally had enough of not making any progress, I told the family that I was never buying them again and if they wanted some they better eat through the remaining stock quick. That was 10 or so years ago and we still don’t have them in the house unless it’s a special occasion. Fortunately I’m not tempted by other flavors so the family is good there. I dropped 40lbs in less than 6 mo’s and have kept it off, even dropping more when training heavily.

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I really appreciate all the tips. I think I’ve got myself into a bit of a funk (mild depression) over this. I can’t do the old “weekend warrior” thing and burn it off because I am not as young as I used to be and my body is punishing me for carrying and lot of extra weight for a long period of time. I have yo-yo’d over the past few years and I don’t have the motivation to do it over and over again.

The “focus on the process” a particularly good tip cause I struggling on the motivation side (see above).

Lots of great suggestions above. I especially love @Craig_G 's points. @IamDeablo, I have another suggestion of how you might go about approaching weight loss, one that I have seen to be more sustainable and generally much more enjoyable to maintain in the long run (I’m an RD, though not currently practicing). In a nutshell, focus on the enjoyment and nourishment that high-quality, whole foods bring.

Notice how you feel when you eat a balanced meal full of vegetables, protein, and high-quality carbohydrate vs. when you eat ice cream, etc., etc. You’re essentially training your neurological system to reward you with “good feelings” when you are nourishing yourself. Think about how you feel after a great workout - does the feeling of accomplishment post-ride keep you coming back for more?

The goal is to shorten the time horizon between action (eating well) and reward. Right now, the “reward” in your mind is weight loss, but that isn’t a short term reward. As humans, we are much more motivated by instant gratification. So rather than thinking about weight loss in your day-to-day, try noting on how energetic you feel after a great meal, or how delicious and colorful those farmer’s market vegetables are.

In addition to the above, you’ll likely need a bit of structure at first, as good nutrition requires both knowledge and planning.

Let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions!

Emily

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Hi Emily

First its nice to see a women on the site (it’s sometimes a sausage feast around here. So thanks for chiming in!). I’ve actually thought about this a lot. I don’t tend to connect the quality of the food to how I feel very well. I don’t really appreciate it cause I don’t have that sense of if I eat Kale I am going to feel fantastic. In fact if I eat Hagan Daz Ice Cream and sit on the couch I feel amazing at that moment.

I suppose its more of a long term thing.

Cheers
Jeff

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Hi Jeff,

I hate to say it, but it is a long-term thing. Sugar gives you the immediate “hit”, but try to notice a bit deeper than that - how to you feel after you eat the ice cream in terms of energy levels, satisfaction (do you just want more sugar?), and your workouts/focus/mood the next day? It’s a good opportunity for some self-experimentation and writing down your observations and results, if you’re the data-driven type.

AND, although it’s a long-term process, once you “retrain” your brain, you have that for life.

Emily

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Hi IamDeablo,

Lot’s of good advice already here, but one question for you. Who put the ice cream in your freezer and chocolate bars in your pantry?

It’s a lot easier to make these decisions at the grocery store (go on a full stomach) than in the evening when you have cravings and sweets waiting for you. At some point you’re going to have to walk past the ice cream isle or avoid it completely if you’re trying to break a habit.

Earlier this year I was struggling to get down to “race weight” but was aware I’d acquired a habit of eating almond butter. No amount of “i’ll only eat this much” was working so made the decision to stop purchasing it for the time being. I’ve done the same with beer, ice cream, etc… in the past. You’ll have some withdrawal symptoms initially, but they pass.

Whether or not you replace what you’ve removed is up to you and your goals, but if you do substitute go with fruit. You can also occasionally treat yourself with a single serving (i.e. individually packaged) ice cream/chocolate… best time would be right after your workout.

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I had two bowls of frozen yogurt last night before bed lol. 1 moose tracks, the other cookie dough.

Yeah its me that puts the ice cream in the fridge. The wife buys other crap, like Chinese pastry and other crap. But the really bad habit is the Ice Cream and that’s on me.

Funny I can go with drinking once a month or skip bread for the rest of my life, but Ice Cream is better than sex (and I really love sex). So lately I am doing more of a portion control thing by getting 100 cal reveles verse a 1200 cal tub and going to town without even serving it into the bowl (I get more that 1/2 through it in a heart beat).

Hrmm. I actually just looked up the label for the frozen yogurt I attacked last night. 1600 calories for a half gallon carton. Even killing a third of the container (which realistically is probably what I did lol) is only a bit over 500 calories. I’m not too concerned about that that honestly. 25% fat, and there’s some protein in there. It literally has half the calories an 25% of the fat as Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia (which I have been known to kill a pint of in one sitting…over 1k calories).

I may decide to consciously make a habit of this lol. Much better than a beer and late night quesadilla with bunch of sour cream anyway, which is my other late night craving.

Simples - don’t have ice cream or chocolate bars in the house. None at all…and go to bed earlier.

Do this for 2-3 weeks and not only will you feel much better the habit will be broken.