With Summer on the way, we can so easily turn to ‘quick fixes’, hoping to shed the extra weight and look our best by the time bikini weather comes along! Sadly quick fixes may give quick results, however in the long run will leave you with even less muscle and often even more kilograms to lose.
Researchers have found that there are 6 ‘steps’ that create positive change for anything from rehabilitation to sports achievement to weight loss (to name just a few areas)! And when we have these 6 areas clearly defined for ourselves, positive results are a given.
Here are the 6 steps:
1. Our motivation for change needs to be created from within ourselves. So put aside some time to write down in two columns – the consequences of not changing and your clearly defined goals for wanting to change in the first place. Keep on adding to this list until you have tangible picture of the consequences as well as the benefits.
2. You need to be dedicated to the changes you want to make (this is why spending a little time at step 1 is so important). If you have a very clear understanding of why you want this change, you will find it easier to stay dedicated and motivated.
3. And it is important to break down your goal into manageable and obtainable sizes. For example: aiming to lose 0.5kg – 1kg a week feels far more do-able than aiming for 12kg by the end of December.
4. You need to focus on the now! What can you do this minute to reach your future milestone? So if you are in a restaurant or shopping for food – ask yourself – what can I do right now to reach my goal? And see what different choices you start to make!!
5. You need to be involved in your weight loss: this might mean taking the time to read labels, or setting your alarm thirty minutes earlier to go on the treadmill before work, or keeping a food diary etc. People who participate in their achievement are generally more determined, and more likely to succeed (another reason why fad diets, diet pills and injections do not work in the long run!).
6. How you judge your performance is paramount to success. Stop comparing yourself with others right now! Look solely at your own progress. Ask yourself how far have I progressed since yesterday? Last week? Last month? Almost always there will be someone who is doing better or is thinner, more intelligent, more creative etc. If you look inwards and recognise that you are doing your best right now, you will start to realise that this is the only thing that matters.
So how do you make these 6 steps last?
* Accept that quick fixes don’t work where you lose the weight and then go back to your previous bad habits. Focus on making changes that will last a lifetime. You are in this for the long haul and you will love your results if you start thinking that way!
* Set realistic goals. It didn’t take a week or even a month to gain all the weight, so don’t expect to lose it all at once either. Slow and steady wins the race. Set both short-term and long-term goals and refer to them frequently.
* If stuck – ask for help!! Seeking help to improve your resources only adds to your chances of success.
* Don’t do it alone. Alert your friends and family so they can support your weight-loss efforts. Find an exercise buddy to join you in your journey and be sure to join any community forum or blog that can assist you along the way.
* Plan ahead. Stock your kitchen with the right food and snacks. Set aside a few hours a week to plan your meals for the week and to go grocery shopping. Also, be sure to have a healthy snack before you go so that you’re not tempted to make bad choices. Scan the web for healthy recipe guides to add some interest to your eating. Check out one of my favourites here is for hundreds of healthy recipe ideas
* Keep a journal. Nag! Nag! Nag! I know I keep on saying this! Numerous studies indicate that journal keepers are more successful at weight maintenance than people who don’t keep a journal. Record your food and water intake, favourite recipes, nutrition tips, your measurements and your thoughts and feelings as you progress. Take some time to read through your journal occasionally so that you can keep track of your progress.
* Measure your progress. A scale and tape measure are both essential to track your progress. Weigh yourself and take your measurements at your chest, waist and hips once a week. But remember not to obsess over your scale. Your weight may fluctuate based on a variety of factors. Hold on to a piece of clothing that was tight when you first started and try it on occasionally. Even if the scale is slow to move at times, you may still discover that your clothes are fitting better and better every week.
* Eat often. Try having three meals and two snacks a day. Eating every few hours helps to maintain your blood sugar and energy levels and keeps your appetite under control. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
* Have protein at every meal. Try chicken breasts or fatty fish like salmon. Enjoy lean meats for dinner and eggs or a protein shake for breakfast (or at any time of the day). Protein will also help keep you full until your next meal.
* Drink lots of water. Pure water flushes toxins out of your body, helps you metabolise fat and minimises the likelihood of constipation. Aim for 2/3s of your body weight x 30ml a day. Keep a water bottle filled and with you at all times.
* Add exercise. Activity is a natural partner to any weight-control program. It’s good for your heart and helps you maintain the weight that you have lost. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming and biking will all do your body good. Throw in some weight-training exercise to build muscle, which help you burn more calories, even at rest, and helps build stronger bones.
And last but not least, enjoy the journey! Appreciate your progress and your learnings along the way!