Yes, it’s that time of year again. New Year Resolution time. It’s no secret that weight loss and getting fit are two very popular resolutions. In fact, a survey of over 1,000 people conducted by Nielsen reported “staying fit and healthy” (36%) and “losing weight” (32%) were the number one and two resolutions in the US [1]. Unfortunately, for many of these people, their goals will never become reality.

I want to help you be the change. I want to help you stay on track with your weight loss and fitness related goals. This article isn’t about exercise selection or the variables of training, it’s not about how many calories to eat, or which fad diet might work best for you. No, this is about a more primal, motivational aspect of setting a goal. So here is a “shut up and get it done” approach and the tools to back it up – if you want it, make it happen. No More Excuses.

There are a few keys to making a goal a reality. In my opinion, here are the three most important factors for a successful weight loss journey:

  1. Be self-driven
  2. Take responsibility
  3. Focus on what you can change

Let’s talk about each of these factors a little more in-depth.

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Be Self-driven

Your goal must matter to you. If you’re setting a goal to please someone else, forget about it. For most people, proper weight loss is somewhat of a long journey, which can easily take months or even years to achieve. Many people have come to me as a personal trainer and have a grand idea of losing 20, 30, 40, 50 lbs. in just a few short weeks. I ask them “How long did it take you to gain all this weight?” The answer is almost always incongruent with the amount of time in which they want to shed the weight.

It’s not realistic for you to expect to lose all the weight in a short amount of time. A healthy and sustainable weight loss recommendation is 1-2 pounds per week. Slow and steady wins the race. If you were to lose 1 pound per week over the course of the entire 2019 year, that would accumulate to a total of 52 pounds over the year. For most, that would be an amazing achievement. 52 weeks is a long time to work towards a goal that is only meaningful to someone else, so again, the goal must matter to you.

To be blunt, no one else should care more about your health than you do. When it finally matters enough to make you angry, you will do something about it. The good thing is, being self-driven is a learned skill. If every time you turn the corner, you find yourself self-sabotaging your weight loss goals by overeating and/or neglecting your exercise routine, you can do better, and here’s how:

  • Build small habits over time. Keep a journal and each week, take 15-30 minutes to reflect on your progress. Write down 2-3 things you can do this week to help you achieve your goal. Be specific. Eating less and exercising more is not specific. 30 minutes of cardio twice per week and tracking calories for 5 days per week is specific.
  • Set goals that make sense and are realistic. If the most exercise you’ve done in the past 5 years is walking from the couch to the kitchen, don’t expect to be in the gym 7 days a week starting January 1. That’s not realistic and doesn’t make sense. Keep expectations high but start slow and be reasonable.
  • Surround yourself with people who are more driven than you. Listen to podcasts, read a book or fitness articles online, watch YouTube videos. Find like-minded people who can be a positive and inspirational influence on you. There are plenty of resources out there, take the time to find the right ones for you.

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Take Responsibility

It’s your health. It’s your goal. Life happens and it’s easy to make excuses. The kids, your parents, career, relationships, etc. etc. All of these things are real, and obstacles will undoubtedly arise, but you need to be aware from the start that for many of you this won’t be quick or easy. Resiliency, determination, and focus will be your friends.

The good news is that anybody can learn proper exercise selection and technique and how to eat for your goals. The bad news is that if you don’t learn these things, you only have yourself to blame. Exercising and eating are learned skills. It just takes time and determination. So take the time and be patient.

I specifically remember a client (we’ll call him Tim) I had a few years back who I was training for quite a few months without making much progress toward his weight loss goal. During his sessions with me Tim would train hard. I would even see him in the gym training on his own, which not every client is always willingly to do. And although Tim was diligent with his training routine, he wasn’t making as much progress as he should’ve been. He was quite obese and had a lot of weight to lose. The missing piece? His reluctance to do the work outside of the gym. Tim finally decided he wasn’t going to use lack of time because of work or kids (which he had two that kept him busy) as an excuse. He was finally going to take the nutrition aspect of weight loss serious and track his macros for the first time in his life rather than guess. As soon as he began to track his macros, the weight started to melt away. Both Tim and I were amazed at just how quickly he was able to make a transformation. I’ve never seen a man lose 50 pounds as quickly as he did but only after he took responsibility for himself.

Take responsibility and know that good things will happen, just not overnight. Stay the course and play the long game.

 

Last, Focus on what you can Change

There is a lot we can’t change in life, but there’s even more we can change. A few of the most important things you can change in relation to a weight loss goal are the following:

  • How hard you work— it’s easy to go through the motions inside and outside the gym. it’s difficult to dedicate time and energy week in and week out. Are you exercising once per week or three times per week? Are you constantly searching for ways to increase the difficulty of your exercise routine or have you become complacent? Do you reflect on your week like mentioned above?
  • How much you care— When you care about something you treat it right. You get enough sleep, you find healthy ways to deal with stress, you eat proper foods in the right proportions, and you surround yourself with positive influences
  • Have a realistic plan— I like to think of your plan as your directions. If you get in the car and start driving, you will definitely get somewhere, but where? Who knows. You might eventually get where you want to be but you’ll probably take the scenic route and most likely get lost along. Without directions, you increase your chances of never actually arriving at your destination. You need directions to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding. You need a plan. I like to work backward. What is your end goal? Be specific. How many pounds and by what date? As you work backward month by month or week by week, you should begin to notice if your goal and the timetable to achieve your goal is realistic. If it’s not, adjust it accordingly and continuously update your plan along the way.

 

Conclusion

I’d like to leave you on this note: you can do it. Believe in yourself and find help if you need. A good personal trainer could be the best investment you make. The most successful people always invest in themselves. Many people spend their lives in search of wealth while neglecting their health only to have to spend their later years using their wealth to regain their health. There is no better time than right now. Be the best you for yourself and everyone around you will benefit.

 

References

  1. FMCG AND RETAIL. (2016, January 20). A Healthy Salute to New Year’s Resolutions. Retrieved January 8, 2019, from https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2016/a-healthy-salute-to-new-years-resolutions.html
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