I have worked in the health and fitness industry in some capacity for the last 11 years. I’ve worked as a personal trainer at multiple large chain gyms, coached people on nutrition, and I’ve started my own gym. I’ve seen and worked with people who want to lose ten pounds and I’ve helped people lose over one hundred pounds. I’ve also had people pay me thousands upon thousands of dollars only to see the money go to waste as they never stepped foot back into the gym again ultimately never experiencing the physical and lifestyle changes they wanted to see.
So what separates those who succeed and those who don’t? Why is it that some people can lose over one hundred pounds and keep it off for a lifetime and others seem to lose and gain the same twenty pounds over and over again? As you keep reading I’m going to give you my 5 pro tips on how to stick to any weight loss and exercise program.
1. Focus on behavior change not achieving outcomes
We live and are a part of an instant gratification society. We want our lattes from Starbucks perfectly made in seconds and we want our dinners made in only minutes. Most people carry this same want of instant gratification into their health and fitness endeavors and all they are doing is setting themselves up for massive failure.
Here is the hard to swallow truth. If you want to completely transform your body and life in the area of health and fitness it doesn’t happen fast. Truth to be told, in this area of life it will usually take over a year and sometimes two years to not only completely transform your body but transform your lifestyle so that it sticks for a life time. The transformations you see that take 90 days are the exceptions not the rules, and here is a bubble burster, many of those people gain everything back in less than a year because the change happened so fast that the behaviors that they had to adopt never had a chance to take a deep root in their lives. So what do you do?
Focus on behavior change. Behavior change is what causes the desired outcomes in any area of life. So instead of having a goal of losing sixty pounds, your goal should be to walk through the doors of the gym five days a week for the next two months. When you can develop the behavior of consistently going to the place where you will perform your workout chances skyrocket that you’ll actually lose the sixty pounds you want to lose. Additionally, it gives you daily wins. Daily wins are the instant gratification that we are all looking for. Instead of having to wait months upon months to celebrate losing sixty pounds, you can celebrate every single day that you made it into the gym and got a workout in!
2. Change one thing at a time
One of the worst mistakes I see people make is trying to change too much all at one time. Think about it. Most of us have jobs, careers, children, extra curricular activities with said children and much much more. On top of all this people somehow get the idea that throwing in a completely new diet and exercise program everything will just go as planned? Probably not, actually, no chance. Take a deep breath. I’m giving you permission right now to not feel the pressure to have to change everything all at once, you’re welcome.
Change one thing at a time. I would recommend that you focus first on making it into the gym and getting active consistently first, this is the most easy to control and gives you some serious instant benefits. When and only when you have consistently been able to make getting active a habit start to make small changes with your diet. Again, even with your diet, don’t change everything at once, change one thing at a time. Making consistent, small changes over time yields lifelong change and benefits.
3. Accountability Accountability Accountability
One of the ways that lions will kill their pray is they will walk in circles around a group of animals that they want to kill. They walk around growling and occasionally roaring focusing the scare tactics to the group of animals. As they do this for a while one of the animals gets so scared that it leaves the group and takes off running. Now the lion has its prey right where it wants it, isolated and alone. It’s now that the lion will chase down and kill its prey.
When you are adopting new health and fitness habits accountability is key. Trying to go solo and do it alone makes you prey for discouragement and ultimately quitting. Fitness is “fun-er” when you have a friend or a group of friends to do it together with. This way you can keep each other encouraged, motivated and inspired.
4. Find your ‘Why’
If I put a four inch wide plank of wood on the floor and asked you to walk across it would you? Probably. What if I put that same plank in between two buildings that were fifty stories high? Would you do it then? Probably not. What if I told you that the other building was on fire and your child was on the other buildings roof and you were their only chance of survival, would you do it then? I’d bet you would. What changed? The height of the building was the same, the plank of wood was the same size, and the whole situation actually became more dangerous with the fire. What changed is your ‘Why’. What changed was your motivation. I’ve always said that if your ‘Why’ is strong enough you’ll be able to make it through almost any ‘What’.
Your motivation for want to be fit and healthy has got to be better than wanting to fit into a small pair of pants or a small sexy dress. I’ve personally been inspired by wanting to be able to be active and enjoy life not only with my children but my future grand children. So find a deep down inspiring ‘Why’. When you find it, write it down somewhere you can see it every single day and let it inspire you.
5. Whatever you do, enjoy it
As humans we naturally run from pain. Coincidentally often times exercise can be a bit painful. Waking up the next morning with sore muscles, or the deep burning sensation that happens with lifting weights or other intense exercise isn’t what most people would call comfortable. Seeing that the process in and of itself can be uncomfortable on many levels whatever kind of exercise you are doing you’ve gotta really really enjoy it.
If sitting on a bike saddle for an hour in a spin class doesn’t sound like a good time but dancing around to salsa music while doing Zumba does, then take the Zumba class. If the idea of lifting barbells and kettle-bells excites you then give CrossFit a try. If throwing your headphones in, listening to your favorite music while running keeps you going to the gym then go for it! Bottom line here is that you’ve got to love what you are doing to get fit and healthy or else you will naturally begin to avoid the very act. Find something you love and stick with it.
Whatever your goals are, whether the be to lose fifty pounds, run a marathon, or lift heavy weights, following these 5 tips are sure to get you there. Always remember, there is greatness in you so let it come out. If anyone hasn’t told you lately, you are awesome. You got this!
Photo by Stefano Montagner