If there was one thing that used to get in the way of my weight loss efforts, it was lack of consistency. I could easily stick to a diet or eating plan for a few days, but as soon as I had a bad day at work, a night out or a slip up, it would go out the window.
I would curse my lack of consistency knowing that if I could only stick to the damn thing then I’d start making progress. Now, when I coach clients this often comes up, but luckily there are ways to tackle it!
First of all, we need to be clear on what consistency with healthy eating actually means. It does not mean ‘perfect’ eating. We’d all really struggle if that were the case, and be very depressed in the process. I’d miss cake for a start!
Consistency, or at least what that looks like for me, is eating healthy food in the right amounts (this is key, see my post about eating too much healthy food) most of the time. We will all have our own balance of what ‘most of the time’ is going to look like for us. For example, I have the body type that means if I’m not eating healthy food in the right amounts 80 – 90% of the time I’ll probably gain weight. This is going to be different for each of you depending on your own constitution, activity levels and phase of life – being a breastfeeding mother of a young baby definitely impacts this for me!
There’s another massive part of the equation which is mindset. If you have an all-or-nothing attitude and are likely to say ‘fuck it’ after the tiniest cookie passes your lips, that isn’t going to help! This was the issue I had when a bad day at work impacted what I ate and then spiralled into sitting at my desk eating a Greggs’ pasty and 3 packets of Skittles (that actually happened once!)
So with all that in mind, here is how to be consistent with healthy eating:
1. Decide what your ‘most of the time’ is going to be – like I said mine is 80 – 90%. Please don’t aim for any more than 90%, and really think about your body’s needs. What does this look like for you? Is it a takeaway once a week and lunch out on a Sunday? Is it a blow out dessert on a Friday night or a big slice of cake at coffee with friends? I wrote all about being treat smart so check out this post.
2. Get it straight in your head what healthy food means for you – this is a really important thing for us all to get our heads around as there are so many definitions and approaches. It’s going to be different for everyone, so have a good think about what that is for you.
3. Get to grips with portion size – I personally love this kind of approach, very well illustrated by Elle Magazine. Unfortunately, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want of it (except perhaps for veggies). Boo hoo I know, I’d quite happily eat a jar of almond butter if that wasn’t the case!
4. Learn from your mistakes – look back over the past month, where have you been having an issue and ‘falling off the wagon’? Do you think it’s a mindset issue? Lack of planning? Don’t just identify the problem and do nothing though, act upon what you learn!
5. Re-connect with your motivation – why is eating healthily so important to you? Get crystal clear on what that is for you. How does healthy eating make you feel? What, aside from weight loss, do you want to experience? Sometimes it’s not the weight loss that actually stops us from reaching for that second bag of crisps. It’s that feeling of achievement when you’ve made a good choice, it’s going to bed feeling comfortable instead of feeling stuffed. Think about how you really want to feel.
6. Meal plan – meal planning can be so helpful in ensuring you eat healthy food most of the time in the right portion. It doesn’t have to be a complex or time consuming task, just take a few minutes once a week and plan out what you intend to have. You can also split the week in half and plan Monday to Thursday and then Friday to Sunday. That’s how I do it, generally I’m more flexible with the weekend plan than the weekday plan. You can grab a free meal planning template download (amongst other goodies) if you sign up to my updates here.
7. Get some solid routines in order – having a good morning routine especially will set you up to be more consistent through the day. Check out the last Happy Health Chat podcast all about routines for more info!
Feeling like you are being more consistent can really help with weight loss in particular, but also with your overall wellbeing. I know how much more at ease I feel when I’m being consistent and in my groove.
How consistent are you with healthy eating? What have you struggled with? How do you stay consistent?
Great article Laura! I am similar to you and tend to put on weight if I don’t eat healthy 80-90% of the time. If I plan my meals well I tend to stick to my healthy eating but if I don’t plan my meals it happens that I don’t eat as healthy so it’s all about meal planning for me to stay consistent.
Thanks Petra! Yep planning is a big think for me too x
I certainly can dip in and out and there are often two, maybe three occasions of a few weeks or so at a time, each year, where my eating is just pretty dreadful and basically sugar galore which wrecks total havoc upon many aspects of my health. Currently, things aren’t too bad. For me, my limits are about two days/meals a week where I can have a big treat. I’ve used them both up this week already! But that’s fine because this is something I’ve been able to live by for nearly two years.
Planning is definitely something I don’t succeed with but I really wish I could. I also think keeping track of what you’re eating too can be a great way of being consistent. Even writing it like a diary and then saying how you’re feeling – you can look back and think, wow I ate great for those four days, had a dessert on the fifth day but carried on eating well three days after and felt great that whole time. Ya know?!!
Fab post Laura!
She’s So Lucy
Absolutely, keeping a diary is so useful. It’s the one thing I’ve kept doing ever since my big weight loss days and it makes such a difference!
I too could eat a jar of almond butter! Dangerous stuff to have in one’s desk drawer at work, no?! Meal planning is so great – I started doing it about a year ago and it’s brill. It has also saved a ton of money as you don’t need to go to the supermarket every night and you don’t have too much waste, hurrah!
Lol yep, I’ve been there with the almond butter at work haha!
I’m so boring with my meals that I tend to eat quite a lot of the same things each day…at the weekend though is when I let loose. I’ll have cake, or go out for meals or have a take away. That’s probably my balance – relatively good in the week and then a bit more naughty at the weekend. I love meal planning as well and that helps keep on the straight and narrow (or at least, keep to a budget!)
You know I think being boring with meals during the week is sometimes really helpful. If you like what you have, then it’s less stressful than having to think up lots of different meals!
Brilliant article just what I needed today!
Thanks Helen, so glad it was useful for you!
A great reminder Laura. I agree that aiming for 100% (whatever that even looks like) is unrealistic- I think a lot of people have that mindset which is why they start again next Monday etc. I think my meals are pretty healthy, and so that means that I can have some cake if I make something at the weekend, or have some nice chocolate in the evening after dinner, and overall it balances all out. But I know that when I am tired I reach for something sugary to give me a boost- after doing your programme I think 2 years ago now, it made me really aware that after school is the time I need to look out for, as I am tired after a day of teaching but need a boost to power through all the other jobs that need doing. Being aware of it means I can pack a snack that appeals more (like a graze trail mix or something).
Also good luck on Sunday! I am very excited for you! You get to be in the same race as Mo! Very cool! So enjoy :)
It’s great that my old programme is still benefiting you in some way! Just about to write my race recap. Excited!
Great tips! I think realising that occasionally having cake is “healthy” is what helped me be more consistent rather than having days where I just ate alllll the cake and days where I restricted too much. Keeping a food diary definitely works as I can identify when my diet is getting off point and try to pinpoint why! x
That’s such a good mindset shift isn’t it :-)