When you're tempted to stray from your diet, what strategies do you use to stay on track? We took this question to four different individuals to share with your their tricks and tips of how they juggle it all.
When I'm taking in less calories, I find that what helps the most is adding flavor to the food I'm eating. I put more spices in recipes - when I make egg-white omelets, I add jalapenos and salsa. Keep it exciting,
don't let it get boring, and you're less likely to want to stray. Add some oomph to the food, even if it's broiled chicken breasts. I'm Caribbean, so I love curry sauces, which are low in fat. I gathered many
such recipes into a cookbook of simple but tasty dishes, and I can use most of them until contest time. Why have plain chicken breast and a baked potato, when you can have chicken fingers and French fries? My
chicken fingers are done without oil, and the 'fries' are battered with egg whites and baked. Another 'treat' is shrimp salad or shrimp with angel hair pasta, a little bit of which goes a long way. Who thinks
they're on a diet when they're eating shrimp?
I also keep homemade snacks on hand so that if I'm tempted, I can reach for something healthy. I slice cucumbers and mix them with vinegar, sugar substitute and hot peppers. If I'm hungry, I go to the fridge
and have some of those cucumbers. The different flavors help control my appetite. If I want something sweet, I make sugar-free Jell-O, add non dairy creamer (to simulate whipped cream) and mix it up. I always
keep a big bowl of that on hand because I know that I'll crave sweets at night. Planning ahead is half the battle!
I use two strategies: Either I keep the food away from me or I stay away from it. The easiest way to handle a temptation is to remove it. It's a bit hard when you have a wife and kids. My wife, Rebecca, is good
about helping me out, though. Basically, anything that I can't eat while I'm on a diet, she won't even bring into the house.
The second part of the equation is to keep yourself away from temptations. If you're an alcoholic trying to stay sober, you don't go into a bar. When my diet starts to get really hard, I don't go into a grocery
store. If I'm at the gym, I avoid the counters where they have the food bars. It all comes down to willpower.
For me, it's mind over matter. My threshold for suffering is very high. I can take it to a point where not too many others can take it. I convince myself that I'm the only one going through the pain. Once the
blinders are on, I develop tunnel vision and I don't see those temptations. I'll be driving down the street and I don't see McDonald's or Wendy's.
First, I imagine myself on stage out of shape, fat. Second, I rationalize that a minute of pleasure is an inadequate tradeoff for an hour of hard work in the gym. Third, I remind myself that even though no one else
might know that I've eaten some chocolate, it will show on stage.
If all else fails, I do eat a small bit for taste. Besides chocolates, I'm also tempted by stracciatella yogurt [a European-style yogurt laced with chocolate bits]. I compensate for straying from my diet by doing
extra cardio. But all in all, I enjoy looking good much more than the short-lived satisfaction that comes from eating a piece of forbidden fruit.