The new year, and decade, has finally arrived. Of course, a new year means resolutions and, ultimately, a renewed interest in weight loss, more exercise, and eating healthy. There are hundreds of studies that show why new year's resolutions do not work. In the case of the ever-popular, "I wanna lose weight" resolution, the issue is clear. The goals people set are too vague, and they do not plan for that moment when the thrill of something new wears off.
If you want this to be the year you finally feel better, become a "gym person" and change your diet for good, take a few minutes to create a plan. Today, we are here to help by listing out five different pieces of advice you need to consider before you start your weight loss journey. These are tips that you will not find in most weight loss programs, but they are essential building blocks for anyone looking to implement lasting changes.
#1 - Be Honest About The Issue
Before you begin, you have to get real with yourself about two things. First, what is the actual problem? Stay away from vague statements such as "I'm fat, or I want to lose weight." What upsets you about your current situation. It may be a big stomach, knee pain, or losing breath quickly. Whatever it is, lock into what you are looking to fix. Second, be brutally honest with yourself about why this has happened.
In 2014, I was 60+ pounds overweight. I had made several resolutions that this was going to be the year that things were going to change. However, it wasn't until I was honest with myself that things began to change. I sat down one day and wrote at the top of a piece of paper, "Why I Am Fat." That might sound harsh but I needed it. You may write something like, "Why My Knees Are Getting Weaker" or "Why My Stomach is The Biggest It Has Ever Been." For me, I had to list all the reasons I was overweight. What I realized through this exercise was that I had several really bad eating habits that needed to be fixed.
Rather than choose from one of the 456 fad diets out there, I focused on fixing my bad habits. I stopped eating late every single night, devouring entire bags of chips, and starting cutting out sugar. I set rules such as eating food that was as close to its natural state as possible. The bottom line, I was honest about what needed to change for me.
#2 - Focus On Winning The Day
Weight loss can seem like an overwhelming challenge. You look at the calendar and wonder, how am I going to eat healthy on this day, or can I go six months without carbs? This causes people to get overwhelmed and give up. Instead, focus on the day you are currently in. Focus in on each situation. For example, when you wake up, eat fruit instead of a pop tart. That's a victory. Drink coffee with less sugar. Another victory. Pass on ordering lunch with the rest of the office. Yet, another victory.
This is how habits are built, by focusing on doing something each day until it becomes a part of who you are and what you do. Overtime, you will naturally choose healthier options. I used to eat a ton of processed sugar throughout the day. Now, without thinking, I need to know how much sugar is in whatever I am eating, and I refuse to drink anything but water and coffee.
#3 - Accept Slow, Consistent Progress
Weight loss is a slow process. Anyone who tells you different is selling something. Very rarely does anyone actually lose 20 pounds in 30 days. First off, that type of weight loss unhealthy. I understand that it is desirable, but if you lose weight just at the sacrifice of your overall health, what is the point? Before you start, accept that this is a long journey that will require you to try your best for an extended period of time.
You must also realize you may not see progress right away. Do not equate success with how your clothes fit or how you appear in the mirror. Focus on those habits we talked about. How often have you gone to the gym? How often have you not done that thing on your list that is causing your problem? If you feel like you are trying your best, the rest will follow.
#4 - Weight Loss is Uncomfortable
This is one of the main reasons people give up on their health-related goals. It's fun and exciting in the beginning, and then that first feel of uncomfortableness pops up. Once we start to feel pain or discomfort, we tend to crawl back to safety and refuse to return. This has nothing to do with you or your will to change and better. This has to do with your brain and how you are wired.
Your brain's number one function is to protect you and your body. Any time it detects something harmful it sends signals to retreat from or combat the threat. If you are going to the gym for the first time in a long time, your body needs time to adjust. It's not used to that amount of moving and activity. You are going to feel sore and tired because your body does not know how to respond to this type of treatment. It does not think about the long term benefits, only the short term impact.
Another key takeaway is understanding how your body reacts to a diet. If you have spent months or years eating fatty and salty foods, your body has become addicted. As soon as you cut them out, your body goes through a type of withdrawal. People have reported withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and trouble concentrating. Understand this for what it is. It is not an excuse to eat junk. As long as you are eating enough food throughout the day, you need to push through this type of discomfort until your new diet becomes second nature to your body and your brain.
#5 - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle
We all know people who went on a diet, lost a lot of weight and then gained it all back. This is because they were only planning to lose weight for a set amount of time. They never learned how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Put it another way. If you make a list of all the reasons why you are overweight and then never learn how to fix those habits, you will always go back to them.
If you are serious about losing weight and getting healthy, then stop saying you are on a diet. Diet implies you are doing something specifically for a certain amount of time. Commit to becoming a healthy person. When faced with a choice such as should I eat that or should I go to the gym, ask yourself, "What would a healthy person do?". If you are serious about becoming that type of person, then you should know the answer and be motivated to stick to it.
Losing weight is incredibly difficult. You have so many factors working against you. It is a tall task that requires a plan of action. It also requires you to be honest with yourself about how you go to where you are and where you want to go. Before you take another bite in 2020, take yourself through each of these pieces of advice, and create a plan. Then, prepare yourself for the times where it will get difficult and how you will deal with that. Commit to becoming the healthiest version of yourself possible and then make choices that will help you become that person.