It's the ultimate pipe dream -- you cut out the crap and clean up your diet and BAM, you're looking fit in no time. Though anyone who's tried to eat 'clean' will attest, when you don't look like Adriana Lima or Chris Hemsworth after a few days you get tempted to give up.
We've become an impatient society who want everything quickly, results from dieting being no exception -- and it doesn't help that we see people on reality TV losing 7-8 kilos a week. While that's just not realistic in everyday life, would it help you stay on the wagon if we told you that you can see results in as little as two weeks?
"You can absolutely see results in a fortnight. In fact I would say that the initial 2-4 weeks are the most important when it comes to working on sustainable lifestyle strategies," Dietitian Susie Burrell told The Huffington Post Australia.
What we know from behavioural research is that people are most likely to stick to a program when they get initial results.
Burrell runs a two week kick start program, Shape Me, for her clients in spring which is very popular. It seems the warmer weather serves as motivation to start, and with results promised in two weeks, that's a good incentive to keep going.
"What we know from behavioural research is that people are most likely to stick to a program when they get initial results, which is why a relatively short period of strictness with our food choices is important. A calorie-controlled, carbohydrate-controlled intake over a one-to-two-week period will generally result in a couple of kilos weight loss. While some of this is fluid and the muscles readjusting to a lower carbohydrate intake, some will be fat and that initial loss on the scales is extremely powerful psychologically when it comes to helping us finding the motivation to keep going," Burrell said.
To clean up your own eating, first up you need to focus on veggies.
"First and most importantly, the focus is on loads of salad and low calorie vegetables -- at least two to three cups at both lunch and dinner. Most people eat no where near this amount of fresh produce and the simple act of loading up on low calorie foods helps you to eat less as well as flush extra fluid away and get your digestive system working," Burrell said.
In addition to upping your vegetable intake you need to take a look at carbohydrates. It's not about cutting them out, but lowering overall intake and eating the right ones.
"Next we keep the amounts of carbs controlled -- not low carb but lower than usual to help kick start fat loss. Including good quality carbs, in the right amounts and the right time ensures fat loss is safe and sustainable," Burrell said.
Lastly, making your own meals teaches you exactly what's in them.
"Finally we work on getting people to cook regularly, plan ahead and take control of their nutrition. Planning is the key to dietary success and getting into the habit of planning meals in advance is the secret to long term weight control, so you never get caught without the foods on hand you need to eat well."
Realistic changes can be implemented so the whole thing isn't a rude shock to the system. Burrell recommends the following tips:
- Make sure that your breakfast contains a rich source of protein -- eggs, Greek yoghurt, baked beans as protein will help to keep you full through the morning.
- Focus on eating loads of vegetables and salads, soups and veggies juices to flush out your system and help to keep you full.
- Focus on eating times -- breakfast by 8am, lunch by 1pm and dinner by 7pm to allow 10-12 hours without food overnight.
- Always carry a protein rich snack with you -- a nut bar, cheese and crackers or a protein ball so you are not caught out hungry and tempted to eat rubbish.
- Drink loads of water -- at least two litres per day to keep hydrated, get your digestive system on track and help manage your appetite.
With regards to exercise, just keep doing what you usually do. If that's nothing, work on your daily steps first.
"If you are training regularly I would keep up with your regular regime but if you know you need to start exercising, just start tracking your steps using a pedometer. We all need to move more and that is the easiest way to keep an eye on how much you are (or are not) moving and help motivate you," Burrell said.
While all of the above sounds pretty easy, sometimes there's office birthday cake and all bets are off. If your willpower wanes in times like this, don't throw it all in.
"One of the most common diet issues is when we start a new program, we have one slip up and then think we have blown it. Remember, what you eat does not have to be perfect, it just needs to be consistent, so as long as you eat well most of the time, a meal or two off here or there does not matter. Forget the 'all or nothing diet approach' and you will be well on your way to ditching fad diets forever," Burrell said.
In terms of motivation, consider teaming up with a buddy to keep you accountable.
"Take it day by day. Team up with a partner or friend for support, plan ahead so you keep in control and remember that a couple of strict weeks will be all you need to shift a couple of kilos quickly and then you'll be well on your way. The first few kilos are the hardest but once they are gone you are on the path to long term success."
Lastly, when looking for a quick fix, remember that fad diets have that name for a reason.
"Look for programs that are written by qualified professionals. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. You are more likely to stick to a program you actually like and there is no secret to weight loss success, it comes down to accepting we are going to have to eat well most of the time and move every day for the rest of our lives. Once we accept that, weight control becomes a lot easier," Burrell said.
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