Having trouble achieving your health goals? Our health columnist explains the key do’s and don’ts of getting results.
As 2015 is moving right along, can you say you’re doing the same? Will you be the elite 8 percent of the population who chooses to stick it out? If you haven’t met your goal weight in 2 weeks, you might as well just give up! Sadly, 70 percent of the population follows this pattern. Not only is it impractical and faulty thinking, it doesn’t create a successful mindset. Most favor the concept of instant results through mislead supplements, moronic diet fads and gimmicks, and while it may serve use in the acute sense (when in all honesty there’s no justifiable reason), it doesn’t establish long-term, habitual disciplines that will prevent weight gain from recurring.
When you reach your goal weight, what will you do with your habits at that point? With no need to lose any more weight, how will you maintain a healthy waistline if proper eating habits weren’t developed? Will this mean you go the rest of your life avoiding all carbs because you fear you’ll gain weight? Will you avoid going out to eat because you don’t want to feel tempted and give in to everything in sight, without any self-control? Will you only stick to a handful of foods because that’s what is deemed “clean” to eat? What if none of those food items are to be found – will you choose not to eat anything at all then? None of these situations sound appealing, nor are they rational.
Anything in life with value does not occur overnight or even remotely quickly. A career, academics, a family, marriage, spirituality, health/fitness—any meaningful goal—takes time, consistency and patience. I honestly believe none of these should happen quickly because you’d never learn to appreciate them once you have it. The journey is what makes the process valuable and gratifying—enjoy the scenery! Because it’s a journey, there’s no true ending; there’s only strive for improvement. You push yourself for a better career position, expand your knowledge base, be present for your children and significant other and work on your health/fitness (you should at least!). Why do you continue to show up for your job or your family? You’re invested in it; there’s a lot at stake because it’s valuable! You depend on them. It would hurt to lose it. Wouldn’t you agree that parallels to your own personal health?
Everything takes time; it’s a matter of what’s more important. Is the goal you’re striving for truly meaningful and something you’re passionate about? I would think personal health and fitness would be because without that, no other goal matters. Without your health, everything is irrelevant. If you’re not living and performing optimally, why does anything else matter? Frankly, everything else will suffer if you’re neglecting your health.
I suppose there are actually 10 tips as you could guess the first tip is to create your “why” statement. I am doing this because _____________. I want to be healthier and/or lose weight because ___________. What would it mean to you to be free of this weight issue? Why is it important now to change than the past attempts? Give your goal substance; make it purposeful and passionate. If it’s something you aren’t willing to do everyday then it’s not strong enough – try again.
If your goal doesn’t aggravate you due to your circumstance or fire you up then there’s not enough passion – try again. Whether you’re following a routine for the first time (or for the first time in a long time) or just refocusing your efforts for the new year, keep these remaining simple tips in mind. They will help you stick with it when all sense of motivation is lost. Enough of the serious talk, and onto the tips:
Do: Before you start, log your weight, your measurements and take your photos.
Don’t: Freak out over what you see. No one likes his or her Day 1 photos or measurements, but by capturing all of the basic information (how much you weigh, how big your waist is, what you look like shirtless or in a bikini), you’ll establish a starting place. Like any first step, you just simply start. Who cares what you look like, who cares about grace—just get up and take action. When you have all this information again (I recommend retaking them every 30 days), you’ll see how much you’ve transformed.
Do: Weigh yourself once a week
Don’t: Weigh yourself every day. Full disclosure: I break this rule. I weigh myself every morning just after I wake up. I don’t recommend it, but helps me stay on track based on my goals. It can give you a better overall sense of trends if you weigh more frequently. Nevertheless, your weight can fluctuate every day based on how much sodium you consumed the day before, fluid loss during a workout, particular training program, whether you went to the bathroom, menstrual cycle, amount of food or carbs in the days prior, etc. If you’re the type who could get discouraged from seeing your weight go up a pound or two (or more) in 24 hours, then I recommend weighing in approximately the same time each week. What’s most important though is you practice mindfulness. You ask yourself why the scale went up? You think through the process without impulsively reacting, especially negatively, and sulking about it. Determine why weight may have fluctuated, note it, fix it and move on.
Do: Eat for the body you want—not the one you have
Don’t: Cut out all of your favorite foods. If you really want to be miserable and set yourself up for failure, cut out everything you like to eat. If your diet is really bad, a lot of stuff you like might have to go. Soda, fried food, sugary coffee drinks. It’s a rite of passage. It’s not to say you can never have them ever again, but limits have to be applied until you have full control of your choices. You’re training for the body you’ve always wanted, so feed that body with the food it needs: lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbs and lots of nutrient-packed vegetables. Think about your nutrition as an 80/20 split—80 percent of the time, eat whole-foods. The other 20 percent of the time, don’t stress about it. Incorporate a few of your favorites while practicing mindfulness and tracking. If you really want that beer or that cookie, have it. One cookie or one beer isn’t going to be your downfall.
Do: Have and follow your workout calendar
Don’t: Don’t wait until Monday to start again if you miss a workout. Simple—if you missed a workout because of sickness or travel or you just didn’t feel like doing it, don’t worry. Just get back to it. Establish your “why”— your goal to yourself—write it down and carry it everywhere you go.
Which one of these sets of tips will you start now, today? Which ones do you currently practice and what have they taught you? How do they help you stay in control? How will you keep improving? Which one do you struggle with most?