Setting goals – an often overlooked necessity

Like many of us, there was a time years ago when I slowly lost sight of my weight and fitness level and let it get away from me.  This happened at some point in my mid-30’s, when you can longer get away with a mere approach of moderation. By the time it did hit my radar, I was at an all-time high weight despite my same dedication to the gym.  I realized that what worked at 25 may not work a decade later.

Having always been mindful of my physique, I thought with a conscious effort I’d have no problem snapping back.  Over the next few weeks, though, I remember struggling to lose weight.  I had no clear plan or direction and I thought I could just will my way through it.  I started to feel lost, I started to wonder if I lost the ability to control my weight.

It wasn’t until I put a plan on paper and set actual goals that I began to see dramatic changes.  If you haven’t already done this in your life, here are some things to consider when you sit down to write your goals.  Bear in mind, this doesn’t only relate to weight management.  This approach will work for anything you wish to achieve.

1)  Write your goals on paper and review them daily.  You want to beat these goals into your head, not just think of them once and let them go.

2) Make them specific, reasonable, and measurable.   Writing a goal of ‘I want to look better’ is too vague; it offers no way to measure your success.  A better goal is “I want to lose 10lbs by X date”.  Make that a reasonable goal.  Should you expect to hit it next week?  Absolutely not, but 2.5 months from now, yes!

3) Create both short and long term goals – Okay, 10lbs in 10 weeks is a good mid or long term goal, but you should break that down to 1 pound per week as well.  To get there you will need to great a calorie deficit of 500 per day.  That’s a great daily goal.

4)  Don’t let failure frustrate you – If you don’t lose a pound in a given week (believe me this happens way too often during the journey) don’t throw in the towel and binge.  Simply use it as a guide to adjust your approach.  What did you do this week that may have worked against you?  What changes can you make to meet next week’s goal?

This exercise won’t take long, and I’m willing to bet it will pay you back ten fold in your program.

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The quickest advice I could give…..that could change your life

I know a lot of people struggle with weight loss.  Most of us, by the age of 40, have yo-yoed.   The process goes somewhat like this:  At some point, it’s clear that we must make a change.  Normally this is followed by researching and applying a regimen (hopefully both diet and exercise).  However, as we all can attest, we’re running on sheer willpower.  Willpower to skip the party food, willpower to make time for workouts.  At some point, it falls apart and we end up frustrated.

By this point, I think we begin to think that the regimen failed us; we start to question what we know about weight management, start to wonder if we need expert help.  This is totally normal.

So what’s my advice?  Well, a few things:

1)  Stick to the basics.  As far as what we know and what we need to know about weight management, as long as you’re looking to simply lose a few pounds and maintain a healthy weight, you already know what to do.  In basic terms, eat less, move more.  Create a calorie deficit, weigh yourself once a week to track progress. Set goals, both short term and long term and monitor your progress.   You know you can’t eat sugar, fat, salt to the degree you normally do.  So, stop it.  Do you have to go without it forever, of course not, but moderation better mean 1 time a week TOPS.  And that should be after you achieve your goal.

2) Eat more fruits and veggies – Make a conscious effort to eat 4 fruits and 2 large salads chock full of vegetables at least twice a day.  If you force yourself to do this, how hungry do you think you’ll be for the other, less healthful foods.  As a bonus, you’ll feel much better for eating extremely nutrient dense food.

3) Consistency – and this is the big one. Any one of us could probably model a perfect day of working out and eating right, correct?  Could you think of a great 45 minute exercise routine, followed by 3 healthy meals and snacks?  If you said yes to that, then all you’re really missing is the consistency.  If you can do that on Monday, why can’t you do it on Tuesday?

The big trick here is to make sure you are taking the approach of ‘this is how i will live my life’ and not to start removing macronutrients and healthful foods (like fruit because you suddenly fear sugar) following some ridiculous fad diet.  Whatever you chose to do it should be something you feel you could do forever. Too often I hear people say they’re going to start a new regimen then go out to dinner three days later. At some point you have to remain consistent with your diet and your exercise routine. Say no to dinner more often than you say yes.