How many different diets did you try in 2015? And how many of them succeeded? Yeah.
Did you ever think that maybe you were going about dieting and achieving a healthier lifestyle the wrong way? Derek Flanzraich, CEO of Greatist, would probably agree. But don’t worry! Because he has teamed up with us to help you achieve your New Year’s Resolution to get healthier and make 2016 your best year yet.
Before we are able to establish healthy habits, we must first break the unhealthy ones. “It’s really about the attitude,” says Derek. “At Greatist it’s not about what you eat but why you do it, and it’s not about what workouts you’re doing but why you’re working out.”
Derek says that understanding why is how we stay committed. “People think of January first as a time to commit to something that they’ve been meaning to do but haven’t had the chance to do it. What I always encourage is for people to spend time thinking why they actually want to commit to doing this resolution in the first place,” says Derek.
By understanding the “Why” behind a goal we are in a better place to establish the path to achieve that goal, as well as break the unhealthy habits that have prevented us from achieving what we truly desire. Derek explains, “Before you say you want to lose ten pounds, thinking about why you want to lose ten pounds might reveal that you don’t actually want to lose pounds, but put on ten pounds of muscle.” Having a clear understanding of our desired outcome sets the path to achieving that goal.
You Are What You Diet
With your goal established it is time to build a plan to eat better, lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. So what’s the most important part of the plan? “The most important part of it is the food,” says Derek. “I think that people powerfully overrate the impact of fitness and underrate the importance of the diet.”
Of course, with so many diets out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Derek says, “What I would encourage is to find one that has been expert vetted but one that sounds really good. Pick the one that sounds like the kind of thing you would really want.”
If you hate salad, then there is no sense in picking a diet that focuses on salad, because you won’t stick to it. “Pick a diet that you are excited to do as opposed to one that sounds like it will be terrible.”
"It’s not about what you eat but why you do it, and it’s not about what workouts you’re doing but why you’re working out.”
-Derek Flanzraich, CEO of Greatist
Make A Plan… And Be Realistic
Once you’ve settled on the diet that’s right for you, put together a meal plan revolving around that diet. Find recipes that you will not only enjoy, but ones that you will have time to prepare. Consider not only the ingredients in the recipes, making sure to find dishes that excite, but be mindful of calorie counts as well.
This is also a great time to setup a system to track what you are eating. “Basically among the only proven things when people commit to their health goals is tracking what you’re eating. That can be in terms of calorie counting, but it can also be in terms of just writing it down because the real truth is that anyone who hasn’t done that doesn’t realize how much they are eating.”
Set up a list for each week on your Trello board, and create a card for every day. After each meal or snack, add to the card exactly what you ate and review your cards at the end of every day and every week. The simplicity of this action is actually deceptively effective. “I will say that after you track for a period of time you realize what you are doing and your habits change,” Derek says.
Don’t Go It Alone
Another effective way to stay on top of your diet is to make sure you never diet alone. By finding others that are as excited to diet as you are, you will not only stay more accountable, but you will be happier.
“The number one reason we hear from readers at Greatist,” says Derek, “is that they don’t accomplish the goals that they set out to because they feel alone. They don’t feel like they have a group, a partner, their family is not into it, their coworkers throw them off.” Add your friends to your Trello board and share your meal tracking lists, workouts, and have regularly scheduled meetups to share what’s working and what isn’t.
When planning and sticking to your diet, keep these five simple tips from Derek in mind to amplify your success:
- Drink more water.
- Only eat a really healthy breakfast, if you eat breakfast.
- Set a rule of how many alcoholic drinks you have. Cutting out as much alcohol as possible can have huge effects on weight loss.
- Don’t constrain yourself too much. Allow for some flexibility in your diet.
- Emphasize food over fitness. If you’re doing fitness just for weight loss, you’re doing it wrong. You can’t workout a bad diet.
Tech Tools For Staying On Track
Derek also shared some of his favorite tools for tracking and staying on top of his diet:
- Use a notebook or a google doc to track what you are eating
- My Fitness Pal & Lose It are great calorie counters
- Map My Fitness & RunKeeper to socially map and share fitness goals
- Use tools like Trello to keep track of goals, diet, and workouts
- The Seinfeld Calendar - Take a monthly calendar and every day when you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, put an X over the day. Over a period of time you will develop a chain and you will want to break the chain even less.
Are you ready to have your healthiest year yet? Go get ‘em tiger, but also remember to keep this advice from Derek in mind, “Do something that you are excited about doing but not something you feel like you have to do. Something that you can’t wait to start and have just been waiting for the excuse to truly commit to it.”
Healthy Living Sample Board
Check out the healthy living template board here, then start planning!