One of the top reasons I see people joining a gym or fitness center is for weight loss. Day-in and day-out I see people on treadmills, on circuit equipment, working with free weights, literally for hours. Unfortunately, I have not seen the change I would want to see from people who are so dedicated to working out. I am impressed with their discipline and dedication, but the overall body transformation is just not happening for them. At some point you have to ask yourself, “What can I do better to see more of a positive change in my body?”
Weight loss is a challenge. It is much easier to sit in front of a TV, munch on snacks, and drink wine for hours than it is to dedicate 30 minutes to working out or making nutritious choices throughout the day. When weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, we get discouraged or fed up because we feel like we have tried with no success. If you think about it, the excess weight didn’t just creep on overnight (though you may think it did). The extra weight is from days, weeks, months, even years of eating more calories than our bodies need for the daily activity we normally perform.
The first thing you need to do when planning to lose weight is throw the phrase, “I’m on a diet,” out the window. Diet is an evil four letter word that never needs to be uttered. The moment you think you are on a diet you are setting yourself up for long-term failure. You can easily break a diet or sabotage yourself, opening doors for binge eating and other negative forms of behavior such as dropping your workout routine by giving up. Why? Why would you do something that doesn’t help you, doesn’t make you feel good, and in the long run is bad for your health and quality of life?
Healthy living is simple. There are two rules of thumb to live by:
#1 – You are what you eat
#2 – You are as fit as you want to be
People say they want to be fit, but do nothing about it. So does that action really say that you want to be fit or are you just adding to the list of could of, would of, should of? I have seen people that are in their 60s and 70s, have orthopedic issues, have been in car crashes, and have professional and social calendars that would impress anyone, and they are more fit than a 20 year old. What do they have that others don’t – Drive. Simple. They have the drive to push harder, focus more, forget excuses, and move forward. They don’t cry when they can’t have a piece of cheese cake because it’s too many calories or they are too tired to workout. They do what they do because they want something and they go for it…and nothing gets in their way.
Pick up any magazine at the supermarket and you can get tips on how to lose weight, healthy recipes for the family, and exercises to do at home. If you can’t get to the gym, pop in a workout video at home or your hotel, go on YouTube for workout videos, rent a workout on On Demand, go for a walk or jog outside, do a family outing at a local park or playground. Being active and moving your body the way it was meant to move will give you the means to be healthy.
Now when it comes to weight loss, one size does not fit all regarding working out. Taking a leisurely walk outside or on the treadmill chatting on the phone and reading a magazine is not going to help you drop weight. Exercise is exercise for a reason. You need to push yourself for the majority of the time spent working out, with the exception of your warm-up and cool-down. I am not saying push to the point of injury, breathlessness, or excessive fatigue. My training motivation is geared towards encouraging others to step outside of their comfort zone and grow as a person as they push their mind and body to exceed their expectations.
I have several clients that amaze me because they simply won’t submit to their mind saying “I can’t do that.” They do, they achieve, and they are all the better tomorrow for what they did today. They see a challenge and they embrace it full-heartedly. Being in my 30s I have been more inspired by people in their 50s than others at my age or younger. Drive is the key component to any successful individual whether in business, on the field, or in life in general.
Nutrition is another important factor. I am not a nutritionist or dietician, but I know calories-in has to be less than calories-out in order to lose weight. Food and portion control is 75% the battle when weight loss is the goal. You are what you eat is a terrific phrase to consider every time you put something in your mouth whether it’s food, liquid, supplements, or even chewing gum. I once knew a person that chewed 25 sticks of gum a day, on average, and it wasn’t sugarless gum. That could easily add up to 625 calories if each stick of gum was 25 calories each. That’s a whole meal!
The point is, you have to be accountable for the choices you make, which includes what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat, if you exercise, how you exercise, and if you provide your body with adequate rest and recovery so it can repair and build. Excuses make you feel bad, fatty food makes you feel tired, sugary food gives you a quick buzz and then a plummet into guilt, alcohol packs on the weight if you overindulge, and lack of exercise ages you faster.
The fountain of youth is in the small every day actions you take today. Through exercise and nutrition you develop a better circulatory system, stronger muscles and bones, reduces risk of disease, improves your mood, boosts energy, helps you sleep better, and can even improve your sex life. So why would you make an excuse to not exercise? And as far as nutrition is concerned, what you eat will reflect how you look. I know people that eat very nutritiously and exercise 5 to 6 days a week and look amazing. On the other hand, I know people who eat to exercise and that theory doesn’t exactly work for their body fat percentage goals or waistline.
Your motivation will keep you going. Some days will be harder or more tempting to stray from the path. Find two things that will make you stay on track, specifically a process and outcome goal. A process goal is something you do to reach your outcome goal. For example, “I am going to exercise five days this week.” Your outcome goal is “I will lose 25 pounds by October.” Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited. An example of a SMART goal is to aim to jog for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for the next three months, and log your results. Or you could go for something else that motivates you like, “I want to be able to play with my daughter at the playground instead of sit on a bench.” Therefore, you are looking to build your endurance and strength. Incorporate the SMART method and you will be off the bench and on the monkey bars in no time.
Finally, change your perspective. Go into any gym and look at the faces of people working out. 9 times out of 10 they look miserable. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. “I am only doing this until I lose the weight”, “I’d rather be sleeping”, “Have to burn 500 calories today so I can eat chocolate cake without guilt”. These are not thoughts that will keep you going on your journey to health and a fit life. Typically any little setback tends to really affect people that have the short-term goals in mind. You have to look at eating healthy and exercising regularly as a lifestyle change. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the journey. If you have a setback, start fresh tomorrow. Each day is a new beginning so you make the best of the time you have today because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
If you direct your energy and focus towards activity and food that is good for you, than you will feel better, look better, have more energy, and your mood will show just how great you feel. Take baby steps, but take the steps and keep walking. You will succeed with your personal goals. You just have to believe in yourself and keep pushing forward.