Despite the seemingly endless information out there, losing weight still seems like a mysterious process, doesn’t it?
We know it’s fundamentally about making sure we burn more calories than we eat, but it’s also about much more than that. Every choice you make each day, whether to exercise or not, whether to have the grilled chicken or go for the burger, whether to watch TV or go for a walk will determine whether you lose weight, stay where you are or even gain more weight.
So, what do you need to make those good choices day after day? It’s all about empowering yourself…putting yourself in the driver’s seat so that you’re making the choices instead of feeling like you have no choice.
1. Make It About Taking Care of Yourself
It may seem obvious, but making daily healthy choices starts with a fundamental desire to better yourself and not just to lose weight. The decision to be better, look better and feel better isn’t based on guilt, shame or the fact that your pants feel too tight. It’s based on the fact that you want to stop feeling sh**ty about yourself.
You want to feel good. You want a better life. And that desire is what will drive your choices.
When you have the right mindset, you’re able to look at exercise in a new light, as something that feels good rather than a punishment. You stop expecting instant results because you’re not as focused on those external changes. You’re also able to bypass excuses (I’m too busy, I’m too tired, etc.) that stop you before you even start.
Here’s how to start working on that mindset. Start by:
- Fostering your desires. We all have moments when we desperately want to lose weight, but that desperation doesn’t lead to lasting motivation. Ask yourself what you really want for yourself. Go beyond thinner thighs or smaller love handles and, instead, ask yourself what would really make your life better? Having more energy? Staying healthy and active for your kids? Write these things down to remind yourself of what you really want.
- Asking around. If you know healthy people, ask them why they exercise every day. You may hear something about weight loss, but you’ll also hear other reasons – it makes them feel better, it gives them energy or life wouldn’t be the same without it. Think about what you hear and imagine having those reasons for yourself.
- Practicing. Most of us know how to make healthy choices, we just don’t follow through when it comes to crunch time. Overcome that by practicing one new healthy choice each day, no matter how small it is. Have an extra glass of water or take a walk on your next break. Those are the choices that lead to weight loss.
You can get started right now with this free 7-Day Kickstart Exercise Challenge. You’ll have easy-to-follow challenges that steer you in the right direction without overwhelming you.
2. Make It a Choice
One thing we humans like is choice. As soon as we feel we have no choice, that’s usually when things go wrong.
That’s one reason many structured diets don’t work. There are so many forbidden foods that you end up craving all the things you’re not allowed to have. At that point, you may give in to those cravings just to stop that internal struggle.
But, healthy eaters don’t forbid certain foods. They often don’t even follow a particular kind of diet; they simply give themselves the choice of whether they’ll eat healthy or not. Each time they choose a healthy meal, it becomes easier to make that healthy choice the next time around.
It sounds strange, but knowing you can have anything you want allows you to make a choice. You’re in charge instead of being at the mercy of your cravings or emotions and that’s when you’ll feel the most empowered. You can learn more moderation by:
- Keeping a food journal. Keeping a journal will make you aware of your eating habits as well as times you could make different, healthier choices.
- Planning your treats. Being healthy and losing weight doesn’t mean you only get to eat tree bark and lemon wedges. You’re still allowed to have pizza, brownies or a burger now and then. The trick is the ‘now and then’ part. Planning for your treats will allow you to work those extra calories in so that you don’t sabotage yourself. If you know you’re having pizza on Friday, you can plan on a lighter lunch or a longer workout to help deal with those extra calories.
- Make small changes. Giving up everything at once is not only tough, it’s a little scary. Rather than change everything in one day, choose one thing to work on – eating a better breakfast or replacing your afternoon Coke with a cup of tea. Work on that one thing until you’ve perfected it, then move onto the next. Try this 6-Day Nutrition Challenge to help ease you into some healthy choices without being miserable or feeling deprived.
3. Commit to Your Exercise Time
One reason many of us skip exercise is because we don’t actually commit to it. You might have a vague idea of getting in some workouts this week, but until you actually commit yourself, it won’t happen.
It’s hard to commit to something in the future, especially a workout. You may tell yourself you’re going to exercise while mentally leaving the door open to bail on the idea if something better comes along.
Successful weight losers not only commit to exercise each week, they also guard that time fiercely. The more often you show up for your workouts, no matter what you actually do during the workout, the easier it will be to make exercise a habit. These tips will help you make that commitment to exercise:
- Schedule your workouts. Sit down with your schedule and carve out your exercise time for the entire week.
- Start simple. Keep it short and easy – Something you know you can do – 10 minutes of walking, for example, or a simple Weight Training Routine.
- Plan your routine. Write down what you’ll do, where you’ll do it, when you’ll do it and how long you’ll do it. You can always change things later if necessary.
- Prepare yourself. Get everything ready for your workouts ahead of time to reduce the chance of changing your mind.
- Protect your time. Plan everything else around that exercise time.
- Always follow through. No matter what’s going on, try to follow through with every planned workout. Even if you only get in 5 or 10 minutes, keeping your commitment will empower you to follow through the next time. That consistency will help you build strength, endurance, and the momentum to keep going.
4. Prepare for Slip-Ups
One thing I’ve learned, both from my own experience and experience with clients, is that we will all slip-up. It’s just impossible to be perfect 100% of the time, even if you are Martha Stewart.
Most of us will be thrown off track by vacations, holidays, business travel, illnesses, life changes.
It will happen.
People often get frustrated when, just when they get into a solid routine, something happens to throw them off, but that’s what life is all about.
Sometimes just knowing it will happen can help you relax and deal with it. Some ways you can prepare yourself:
- Allow some flexibility. If you’re going on vacation, chances are you won’t stick with your normal exercise and diet routine. Make a plan for how you’ll be as healthy as possible, but give yourself permission to back off a little so you don’t agonize over every little thing. Even if you gain a few pounds, the world won’t end. Just promise to get back to the routine when the vacation’s over.
- Focus on the present. If you’re sick, have an injury or have a sick family member, you may not be able to exercise at all. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon all things healthy but do what you can to keep your calories under control and plan on how you’ll get back to exercise once you’re recovered.
- Plan ahead. If you’re traveling on business, research where you’re going and figure out how you’ll exercise when you get there. Bring some workout DVDs, resistance bands or make use of the fitness room, if the hotel has one. If you have your schedule handy, schedule some workout time in, even if it’s just 10 minutes here and there.
- Get back on track. If you get blown off course by the holidays or a surprise family visit, start back to your routine as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.
5. Realize There’s No Quick Fix
Most people know weight loss is a slow process – at least intellectually. But because of all the infomercials and questionable information out there, many of us have a secret belief that, if we could just find that one diet/exercise/pill, it really would be quick and easy.
The truth is, you have to exercise and eat well most days of the week to really get where you want to go.
Successful weight losers know this and act accordingly, committing themselves each day to exercise and healthy eating.
There is no point at which they can stop making these healthy choices and go back to eating junk food and sitting around the house. If they do, they’ll go right back to where they were before they lost the weight.
To understand this for yourself, think about how you approach weight loss. Do you try diet after diet, only to quit after a few weeks? If so, maybe you need to quit dieting and focus on the lasting changes you can make.
Do you start exercising, only to quit if you don’t see results? Maybe setting more realistic goals would motivate you to stick with it. You may even need some mental tweaking to open your mind and find a new perspective about weight loss.
6. Create Your Own Motivation
Isn’t it fun to make plans to exercise? It feels good to imagine yourself getting up tomorrow at 5:30 and going to the gym, getting in a killer workout before you start your day. But, what happens when 5:30 rolls around? Suddenly that “great idea” you had to workout so early in the morning seems utterly ridiculous.
Making plans to exercise is the easy part. Following through takes a different set of skills and it starts with realizing that you have to create your own motivation.
Too often, we wait until we feel like exercising but how much does anyone feel like exercising at 5:30 in the morning? The key is to find something, anything, that gets you moving. Once you get started, the rest will fall into place.
- Promise yourself a reward. Sometimes just having something to look forward to is enough to get you out of bed – a hot bath, a massage at the end of the week or a leisurely night watching your favorite TV show. Promise yourself something good in exchange for your hard work.
- Remind yourself of your goals. Write down your goals and put them next to your bed, right on top of your snooze button. When you wake up and consider skipping your workout, look at your goals to remind yourself that this workout is a necessary step to reaching them.
- Don’t stop looking for motivation. Some days, motivation may be hard to come by. Even reminders of your goals may not be enough to get you moving and you may be tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. Hey, you tried, didn’t you? Instead of giving up, keep digging through all the reasons to workout until you find one that resonates with you. Each day, something different will motivate you – you just have to find what that something is. While you’re digging, go ahead and put on your workout clothes. Now, lace up your shoes and get started on your warm up. By the end of it, I’ll bet you find a reason to keep going.
7. Always Take Action
Too often, we get so focused on the scale that we forget success comes from what we do each and every day. Sometimes, taking an action, no matter how small it is, can make the difference between staying on track and getting completely derailed.
- Keeping your commitment to workout, even if you have to do something shorter
- Getting right back on track when you slip up.
- Finding satisfaction in your healthy choices. Each time you make a good choice, you get stronger and more confident.
8. Be Annoying
Another thing that successful weight losers do is become one of those annoying picky eaters who’s always asking questions in restaurants.
Healthy eaters have to be willing to ask for what they want and can’t be afraid of special requests like sauces or dressings on the side. You can’t be afraid to ask questions about how things are cooked or if you can make substitutions.
For example, I went to lunch with a bunch of personal trainers and thought the waiter would have a stroke from all the special request ‘could you bring that sauce on the side?’ ‘Is that cooked in butter or olive oil?’ ‘Do you have brown rice instead of french fries?’
Eating healthy and watching calories requires vigilance and it may mean asking questions and making special requests which makes some people uncomfortable.
9. Take every opportunity to move
One of my successful clients has a rule for herself – she always parks in the furthest space from the door, no matter where she’s shopping (even if it’s the grocery store). Many successful people use this type of thing to stay more active.
All those little movements, extra steps you take around the house or the office, every time you stand up and stretch, they all add up and contribute to your overall calorie burn.
- Take a lap around the parking lot before going in to work or wherever you’re going
- Use the bathroom on another floor every now and then
- Make your phone calls while taking a walk
- Sit on an exercise ball while you’re on the computer or watching TV
Just standing up more than you normally do can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be a big deal…just think about how you can move a little more.
10. Take the pressure off
Last, it’s really hard to be consistent if you’re white-knuckling it through every choice. Instead, take a deep breath and remember this: You don’t have to change everything in one day. Focus on just one choice – A workout, a salad, a glass of water, a walk outside. Pick that one healthy thing and do it.
Being successful doesn’t always mean a number on a scale. What’s really satisfying is checking off that goal in your to do list. Every time you accomplish that, it gets easier and easier.