The way to make weight loss work is to do it one step at a time. Trying to make big changes all at once, expecting huge results in a short amount of time is one of the biggest reason most weight loss plans fail. It took a while for you to put the weight on…it’s going to take a while to get the weight off. Even I have to remember that, and I’ve done this a couple of times.
I’ve had a few friends come to me recently and ask about getting fit. They’ve seen my struggle with my up and down and up again weight, but know that I am working on formulating a plan to get back in the game in a healthy way that won’t lead me back to injury.
Solid research with sources from respectable sources is key and making sure that you don’t overwhelm yourself in a way that makes you want to throw your hands up and say “eff it, I quit” is a tough thing to do, especially with how much information is floating around out there trying to convince you that their way is the best way. I’ve been caught up in the buzz a bit myself. It took a couple of words from two people to snap me out of my “quick fix” search and realize that I already know what to do. I can’t tell YOU what to do, but I can tell you what works for me, and that might help you get a jump start on our plans.
I set specific, but reasonable, goals – The idea that you can do some kind of random detox over a long weekend and come out of it 10 lbs lighter is a myth. It’s unhealthy, it’s dangerous, and it’s most likely starving yourself. None of those things are good and let’s be real, have you ever met someone who did a “detox” and felt or looked better because of it? Because I haven’t.
Goals are a big part of the motivational side of the fitness plan. Making them specific helps, but making sure they are reasonable is even more important. Lots of things factor into the planning of these goals as well. Work life, home life, kids and family, job and stress. It’s not fair to yourself to set a lofty goal only to know that you won’t make it because you tried to add it into the most stressful time of your life.
A goal can be a race, a race time, a weight loss, whatever – so long as it’s specific and reasonable. Losing weight for a vacation is too vague and losing 50 lbs in 5 months is not reasonable. But losing 4 lbs a month is a specific and reasonable goal. Running 15 miles a week is a specific and reasonable goal. And you can break down your goals by week if you like. Sometimes having a big picture goal, and smaller, weekly goals is a great way to help make solid habit changes that will allow you to keep at it.
I do one thing at a time – This one I still struggle with, but the best way I can make sure a habit sticks is to really focus on one thing at a time. I can’t overhaul my diet overnight and expect to keep with it. I can’t go from running no miles because of an injury and running 30 miles a week. Trying to change too much, too soon is a recipe for disaster.
So, as much as it frustrates me, I make one small change and stick with that for a week or two, and then add another one. Then add another one. And soon, those little changes turn into big ones and habits are changing.
Maybe you want to overhaul your diet: instead of going hard core healthy straight away, pick a battle and win that one first. Maybe you want to eliminate soda from your diet (or in my case, gluten.) Maybe you want to add more servings of veggies to your diet. Maybe you want to add more yoga or more cross training to your regime. Start with one small change and master that, then go to the next one and it will all become habit soon enough.
I have a support group around me – Doing this alone is scary. There are a lot of things about getting healthy that are irritating, annoying, gross, exciting, fun, and intimidating all at once and not having someone to complain to, or ask questions of, or advice from can be daunting. Having a solid support group around me is key.
I have a select group of close friends that I tell everything to. I have a group of fitness friends that I sometimes complain to or talk to about the sport with. These two groups don’t overlap much, but having both is key for me. If I want to vent to a friend about how awful I think I look, I know that I can go to my close friends and they will listen to me, reassure me that I’m beautiful, and remind me that I’m working on my fitness. If I want to complain about an awful run that I just had, then I know that I can call one of my fitness friends and they will give me their thoughts on how I could have done it better without me even asking for advice. I do the exact same thing.
But having both of these support groups around me helps me stay in the right mind set. Calling upon others helps keep me focused on the end goal, even if I don’t share that end goal with them.
I make a plan, but remain flexible – Let’s be realistic here: life is chaos. I’m the only social media person at the #1 local television news station in Jacksonville and sometimes my life gets really, really busy. My schedule has yet to stay the same for more than a week, my to do list is never ending, and the high stress environment leads to binge and stress eating on a normal day…imagine what would happen if we had a major catastrophe. And all that is before I even introduce my Dreamboat into the equation. And I don’t even have kids!
Being able to remain flexible in your training as a busy person is key. Sure, I map out a fitness plan pretty much monthly. I write it up on a calendar that I print out and then I pin it to my wall next to my dresser, or post it on the fridge if Dreamboat is training with me. And then I make sure I’m flexible.
On many occasions I’ve had to swap my training days around because of work, migraines, life, or the need for sleep. Having that flexibility means sticking to my training plan even if I take a random Thursday off to sleep in an extra hour instead of run those three miles, knowing I can add them to Saturday to make up for it.
I know myself – 9 times out of 10, I’m not going to run after work even if I say I am going to. I’m also not going to get up at 5 am on a Sunday just to do my long run, even if I say I am. I know that I should not drink a lot of beer because it has gluten in it, and I know I need to be careful around red wine. That doesn’t mean I do it. I know my stress eating consists of sweet and caffeinated, and it doesn’t matter how much delicious healthy fruit I have brought with me – I will grab a soda and a bag of Swedish Fish in a heart beat without even thinking about it.
It’s not pointing out your flaws. It’s knowing who you are, how you react, and recognizing that you are human. Some of the healthiest and fittest people I know still eat and drink like a dump truck from time to time, and skip workouts to grab some extra sleep after being on assignment. It’s just how it is.
For me – if I am having a particularly stressful day and grab the junk, I eat a big healthy salad for dinner and drink water the rest of the night. If I don’t run in the morning before work, and I can’t get anyone to meet me to run after work, I make it a point to get up extra early the next day and I go to bed early that night. I make sure that I am out the door on Sundays for my long runs no later than 10am, or I wait until 5 or 6pm in order to beat the heat and plan accordingly. It’s also part of being flexible.
Right now – everything is diet and yoga based until I can get my foot healed enough to run. My goal for next week is to not eat anything with gluten in it and to do yoga every morning. I’ve been doing yoga for two weeks now, and while it’s not getting easier, I’m getting in the habit of doing it daily. The gluten thing is something I’ve fallen back into and needs to be corrected in order to feel better.
I want to lose 4-5 lbs a month leading up to my family vacation to St. Martin in September. It won’t get me to my goal weight, but it will get me close enough and I know I feel comfortable in my skin at about 160-165 lbs.
It’s a matter of figuring out what works for you. And if I can help you do that, let me know 🙂