Making dramatic life changes is quite a challenge. Breaking old habits is an arduous task especially when it comes to implementing a new diet and exercise plan. Through experience I have discovered two great (and simple) tricks to avoid falling back into my old ways - setting measurable goals and tracking data often.
Setting Measurable Goals
Setting airy-fairy goals like "I want to eat better" or "I want to exercise more" is no good when trying to adjust to something new. If you cannot measure your goal then how will you know when you succeed? And how will you know if you are on target along the way? Failing to set measurable goals (or not setting goals at all) is one of the main reasons why people fail to stick to a diet or exercise plan.
Tip: When setting goals, aim for measurable variables that can be tracked often. For example: "I want to have a body fat percentage of less than 10%". Even if you resort to just tracking something in the simplest form (i.e. body weight) it is better than nothing.
Track Data Often
Now that you have your measurable goals defined, you need to start tracking that data. Often. Recording your data will help you maintain motivation when the figures start showing positive progress before you can visually see any. Visual interpretation is biased based on your mood. Numerical data just shows you the plain old facts without bias.
Tip: Set regular times to do your measuring. Keeping it consistent will prevent the impact of normal body fluctuations skewing results and will also help you establish a routine. Remember "What gets measured gets managed."