TFW Staff Report
EVALUATE YOUR MOTIVATION
Losing weight is often a byproduct of deeper motivating factors. According to peertrainer.com, an online support group and coaching website, evaluating the reasons behind your goal is one of the most important parts of successfully losing weight. It takes 21 days to form a habit, but it also takes time to iron out the kinks in your new routine. (For example, you may find you hate granola, you need new sneakers or you absolutely can’t stand your new Jillian Michaels workout DVD.) It may take you an entire month to find a routine that works for you — that’s right, one you actually enjoy — and then it takes three weeks for that routine to become habitual.
Before you commit to losing weight, clarify your intentions. Consider these questions: “If I don’t lose weight, what will I miss out on?” and “How will my life be better if I lose weight?”
Once you reach the true core of your motivation, visualize yourself achieving your goal: walking up a flight of stairs without getting winded, zipping up your favorite jeans or finishing a marathon. When you encounter uncomfortable or discouraging moments, your motivation will often carry you through.
Sometimes, envisioning a healthier, sexier you isn’t enough to get your feet pounding on the pavement in the dead of winter. Making a major lifestyle change takes commitment and planning. When planning new exercise and eating habits, approach each situation with the intention of eliminating barriers that stand in the way of your goal.
Make it easy. If you usually wake up at 7 a.m., don’t force yourself to wake up earlier just to go running. Making a drastic change to your schedule could be a potential deterrent. Instead, identify a time of your day that already offers downtime. If this is after work, be sure to pack your gym bag before leaving in the morning and eliminate any extra trips back to the house. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to opt out of your commitment.
Go grocery shopping and cook your own meals. It’s so simple it seems like it can’t be real advice, but consider how often you eat out — or how often you eat frozen dinners. If eliminating frozen foods means emptying your refrigerator, it’s OK to take baby steps. The next time you go to the grocery store, pick up the ingredients to make the fresh version of your favorite frozen entree. Work gradually from there, experimenting each week to adapt your established favorites into healthier alternatives.
Choosing your own ingredients is an essential part of developing mindful eating habits. Key decisions in your nutritional life are ignored or circumvented by eating out. Fast food is often a service sought for its convenience. Planning your meals will take time, and it will also take energy; but by taking control of your meals, you will be actively participating in fueling your body and stimulating your taste buds.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
Taking those extra trips to the grocery store is part of making an investment in your health. Without predetermined portion sizes and ingredients, you will find that planning healthy meals will take a significant amount of investment in the beginning. As you build your knowledge base, the amount of time and energy you invest in cooking and planning meals will lessen. Yes, it will actually become easier.
To get started, visit www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_diet.htm. No need to count calories just yet, my friend.
Investing in the right exercise program is also key to setting yourself up for success. When making any investment, you need to shop around. Choose an activity you enjoy. If you’ve never followed an exercise or training program before, you can always follow along with a YouTube video before purchasing anything. If it fits your personality, be silly and let loose! (Richard Simmons, Hello!)
Be wary of the trendy weight loss movement of the season. (“Insanity,” anyone?) If you bank on one DVD and end up hating it or feeling bad about yourself afterwards (trying to do leg lifts at the command of a chiseled demigod is often less than inspiring), where’s the motivation to continue? Don’t invest in anything that kills the euphoric buzz of exercise! Sell the DVD back to Hastings and get something fun.
Take a class, join a gym or buy a bike — but only make major investments if you can say with 100 percent confidence you will enjoy (and ultimately stick with) the activity. The last thing you need is buyer’s remorse and a mountain bike sitting on your front porch that serves as a daily reminder of your failure.
The one thing you can invest in from day one is the proper equipment and attire. Feeling good when you look in the mirror is a basic component of confidence, and bolstering yourself against the weather is imperative for outdoor activities.
IDENTIFY YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
Share your goals with others. Social media makes it easy to form groups and keep people up to date with your decision to lose weight. If you’re feeling brave, start a “Before and After Album” on Facebook. Your friends and family will enjoy seeing your progress unfold month to month. Who knows, you may even inspire someone else to get active.
Even if you don’t publicize your plan for a new bod, you should let your closest friends and family know. If you are the type of person who finds strength in numbers, recruit a running buddy or a workout partner. Chances are, someone close to you would benefit from more exercise, and you could serve as motivators for one another.
Sharing your goals is an important part of attaining your goals. Not only will you find encouragement from friends, family and even co-workers, but you will also begin to receive advice from people who are already living active, healthy lifestyles.
Many times, people who want to lose weight subscribe to crash diets or fad diets that eliminate entire food groups. Some experts suggest “People don’t fail diets; diets fail people.” You can expect to lose 10-13 pounds in one year on the Atkins diet, but the weight will come back if you quit the diet. Losing weight is formulaic in that you simply need to burn more calories than you take in. More specifically, burning 3,500 calories a week will eliminate one pound.
Making a change that will fit you and your lifestyle for the long haul is more important than eliminating carbohydrates for six months. A balance of less caloric intake and more exercise is the most effective way to lose weight, and the first step is substituting processed foods with fresh foods, whole milk with skim milk and fatty meats with leaner cuts. No math needed.
You’ve probably already heard that by eliminating soda from you diet, you can lose up to 15 pounds this year. But instead of eliminating soda, try replacing it with water. To help avoid caffeine crashes throughout your day, you can replace your daily cup of coffee with a glass of juice. Caffeine is a false indicator of energy. It can keep you alert, but it doesn’t provide you with the nutrition your body needs for fuel.
When you get home from the grocery store and begin experimenting in the kitchen, you may find you have to substitute old habits to accommodate the time you spend cooking. What’s important about making substitutions is it forces you to identify your current habits and to compare them with ones you want to instill. Identifying this trade-off puts you in control of the life you are building. You are never denying yourself anything but instead are choosing active and healthy activities over inactive, unhealthy ones. Substitute!
BE GENEROUS TO YOURSELF
You already have a life that revolves around work, family and social obligations. Exercising is often seen as something that is so foreign or demanding it must be difficult. Some people find conditioning their bodies as a welcome challenge and enjoy pushing their boundaries, tracking their progress or training for an event. Others prefer simply dancing or walking or doing yoga. The intensity must be sustainable, and the activity must be enjoyable in order for it to become a lifelong habit.
Many people quit an exercise program because they push themselves too hard initially. If you can spare one hour for exercise, the recommendation is 35 minutes of cardio at a pace that raises your heart rate to 130 beats per minute. If you can talk, using five to six words at a time, you are at a good pace. If you can barely squeeze out two or three words, you need to rein it back a bit. If you need to walk, that’s OK. Half an hour is a long time to run if you haven’t been training. Remember, it takes time (approximately 22 minutes) and oxygen to burn fat cells, so if you are having significant difficulty breathing, your body will have trouble burning fat.
Spend 20 to 25 minutes lifting weights. Building muscle is an important component of weight loss
because it raises your body’s metabolism. For every one pound of muscle gained, your body will burn 30-40 more calories per day. Train your large muscle groups first and begin by using relatively light weights you can lift 15 to 20 times. Visit bodybuilding.com for more tips on resistance training.
Everyone has problem areas, but it is important to approach fitness realistically, and unless your weight loss regimen includes a needle and liposuction, there is no such thing as spot reduction. When you exercise, you don’t lose fat in one place. You can, however, tone the muscle below the fat, which may cause the scales to go up instead of down.
How you determine your success will evolve as you begin to gauge your stamina and your interests. Give yourself the generosity of time and patience. Beginning a new exercise and diet routine is going to be littered with small failures, but as long as your motivation is strong, you keep a strong support system around you and give yourself the OK to fail today and try again tomorrow, you’ll make it to 2013 with your new habits intact.