Your willpower is poor at best
You have food weaknesses. You know them. We all have these weaknesses. Recognise them, accept them, and don't let them stop you progressing to your goals. Try some of these ideas to help reign yourself in and find what works for you in a long-term, sustainable manner.
Back in my day (maybe a bit further back)
Humans (that's you and I) are rubbish when it comes to willpower. It's in our blood to find and eat things. Back in the good ole days without convenience stores, refrigerators, electricity and all the modern-day wonders, we had to work to find our food, gather our food and *gasp* cook our food from scratch!
Fast forward to now, and the access to foods is abundant. We only have to walk a few minutes, and even a corner store will have masses of calories for us to gorge on. Even then, sometimes that seems like a lot of effort. If we store some food away in cupboards and in the fridge-freezer, we are onto a winner, we barely have to move more than a few metres, and that food is in our hands, and not long after that, our bellies.
Fat loss = snack loss
For those looking to lose fat, this makes that goal difficult. I'm not saying get rid of all the food in your house. But, get rid of all those snacks that are readily available that YOU KNOW you gorge on. YES, those crisps, those chocolate bars, and all those other tasty refined 'unhealthy' morsels. This will make it way more effort to find yourself snacking on these. When the cravings kick in, you'll probably opt for whatever is next available, and let's make those next available choices that bit 'healthier'.
But, Ben, these things are not the Devil?!
You're right! They are not. If anything, I want people to eat how they fancy. But, if someone is really struggling to get to their goals, and they are wanting to feel healthier, stronger and perhaps see a couple inches get lost around their wobbly bits, a calorie deficit is the answer. These are the easier things to get rid of in one's poor nutritional choices, as they will not be providing much other than a bit of satisfaction, and a lot of calories. When you feel your eating is under control, to the point where you feel a reward might be in order... I say go for it. Enjoy it. But, after that, the game face goes back on.
The key to any goal is preparation
With fat loss or muscle gain in mind, organisation/preparation and bulk cooking is the key to do it. We've all been there where we've gotten to work and haven't prepped any food. You can have peace of mind in knowing what you will be consuming the next day. But, it isn't always that simple. You sometimes have to think a couple days in advance.
The best thing to do here is to take baby steps (as with most things). A recent goal I've given some of my clients is to just plan what you are eating for 1 day of the week; and make it a great day. Food you really enjoy cooking, and especially eating. Just with the caveat of making sure your portions are not too big (when fat loss in the goal). Throw a couple of those 'healthier' snacks in, ones where they aren't very processed and you can bet you'll be feeling fuller for longer, and less likely to crave those poorer food choices.
Yes, this starts off as inconvenient, but the convenience of it later in the week will have your present-self thanking your past-self. Then future-self will be selfie-ing itself, loving itself.
Week on week, add an extra day that you plan for per week. 6 weeks down the line, hopefully you'll be at a stage where every day bar one is planned for. Have a relaxed (without going completely overboard), non-planned day for your 7th. If you struggle in 6 weeks to do that, double the time and aim to add a day every 2 weeks instead. Practical, realistic, and achievable goals.
If getting to the gym is difficult; make sure you make this process more convenient. If there’s a decent gym that is closer, sign up there. A commute to the gym makes getting into a routine much harder. Even if the gym is more expensive. A cheap gym becomes very expensive if you pay for it and never use it.
Once again, prepare...
Get your bag packed the day before, ready to go straight to the gym. Get home if you need to in between (I'll allow it), but don't linger! That sofa might be calling, but it can wait. Feed yourself up if needed (you've prepared some food, I trust), then get your butt down to the gym. You know you'll feel great after it. The less thought process between you and the gym, the better.
Out with friends? This is where willpower really gets tested. There are a few things you can do, in the interest of fat loss. You can still have a few drinks (I'm not the Devil...). But, if you find it difficult to cut yourself off, you need to find a system that stops you from chugging extra calories, getting too drunk, and chomping that greasy food on the way home (Grubbs and Buddies come to mind!).
A ‘number of drinks rule’ can work well. It limits how much you drink, but you can still join in, and have fun with your friends. Another thing you can do is look for the lower calorie option when boozing. Instead of all of those drinks being pints o’ beer, chuck a couple less calorific drinks in, like gin and tonics, to help curb the calories.
Not the booze, is there not another way?!
If you feel like you want to keep the booze in place and you don't want to compromise, fine. But, you have to consider that whole calories in versus calories out malarky (don't yawn at that sentence!). So, with that in mind, we come back to preparation. If you know you're going to have a particularly boozy Friday, consider what you eat and drink on Monday to Thursday, as well as Saturday and Sunday.
For example, someone looking to lose fat. Their maintenance calories are 2000. They don't want to go over that figure as that's when we could be in the region of fat gain. Their deficit is only slight, looking for a total of 1800 per day. Over the course of a week, that's a limit of 1800 x 7, which is 12,600.
An example of this person's food and drink consumption could look like this:
The outcome is that they still have consumed 12,600, they are still on their way to their calorie goals for fat loss, yet they still have 1400 calories over their usual intake on the Friday, which hopefully serves as enough of a buffer and allows them their boozy night out to go without a hitch.
Flexibility vs Rigidity
When it comes down to it, it's how bad you want it. If you want more flexibility in the method you use, then you might have to accept the goal you achieve will take longer. If someone is too rigid, then they might find themselves losing friends, developing a poor relationship with food, and becoming rather unhappy. For most individuals, it's finding a balance between the two, where the system still lends itself to the goals you have set, but also allows you to live the life you want to live. Sustainable methods will be the choice of someone who looks to the long-term for their health and fitness solutions.
Without some sort of system in place, willpower loses every time. Find what works for you and your goals.
Thanks for reading!