Adherence is a term you’ve probably never heard of before. But if I said to you your success dieting was all down to adherence, does that make it sound more important?
Adherence is essentially your ability to stick to something. So dietary adherence is your ability to stick to your diet and it’s highly important. I would rank it second to being in a calorie deficit.
There are many things which can play a role in your ability to stick to your diet, the taste, the restriction, the satisfaction and many more. This is why I love the following quote:
The most successful diet is the one that allows you to adhere to and sustain being in a deficit.
Let’s break this down, what does it mean? Well let’s suppose someone is trying out a keto warrior diet with one meal a day of very high fat intake. They may have real trouble staying away from food during the day and then may be confused about what to eat on their single meal. This means they aren’t very likely to adhere to this type of protocol. Someone who loves bacon, cheese, bulletproof coffees and avocados however will probably love this approach, making them far more likely to adhere to and sustain this approach.
This is where we may differ as individuals.
Person A may really enjoy intermittent fasting as it allows them to be in a calorie deficit without them really withdrawing from the foods they enjoy.
Person B however may get headaches from being fasted and really enjoys eating breakfast with family. The difference here is that person A may be able to manage IF for an entire lifetime, a lifestyle change, but person B may not last a month. So for them another approach is needed.
The reason this is important to discuss is because we need to think lifestyle change when discussing big results and long term meaningful change.
It doesn’t need to be 100%
The 80:20 rule
I want to start with the 80:20 rule for dieting.
If you can enjoy 20% of what you eat from ‘bad’ or ‘cheat’ foods then you’ll actually do so much better long term as opposed to restricting yourself too much and trying to go 100% ‘clean’.
*I don’t like the words clean, good, bad or cheat too much. But for the sake of my point the words clean or good are used to describe whole, unprocessed foods and the words bad or cheat are used to describe highly processed foods. You know which ones.
This rule, although it probably seems super simple is quite important. If you can feel like you’re not dieting and still getting to enjoy 20% of your calories everyday, you’re helping set yourself up for success.
As a secondary tip to the above rule if you love gobi (cauliflower) but hate broccoli, don’t make your dieting journey a misery by forcing yourself to eat broccoli just because a fitness guru said so. Fitness gurus tend to have a thing for chicken breast and broccoli, nobody needs to eat in a boring way to lose fat. You need to be in a calorie deficit, sure, and we’ll do so much better making the process as fun as possible.
An extra serving of patience
The second thing I want to go into is unrealistic goals and equally extreme approaches to get there. Unfortunately people’s expectations of results and timelines have been largely skewed. They may then opt for a really extreme deficit in order to reach said goal in 12 weeks. This is usually a recipe for disaster as the more restrictive the approach the less sustainable (usually).
It’s important to have a realistic expectation from the get go, this is where a trainer or coach can be useful. They’ll be able to tell you whether your goal is realistic or not. Aiming to lose 0.5% – 1% bodyweight per week is a great place to start.
Tips for adherence:
- Get a partner, sibling or friend on the journey with you (you’ll hold each other accountable)
- Enjoy 20% of your daily calories (it’ll be so much more enjoyable)
- Keep problem foods away from home (this will prevent temptations and keep you in check)
- Track weekly calories instead of daily (knowing you can fix things the next day and over the course of the week is important for you to not feel like a failure and give up)
- Make roti work (it’s super easy as it is made at home daily)
- Get creative with sides, salads and spices (making boring things tasty)