Friday, January 03, 2014

Make Your Weight Loss Resolution Successful

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Did you make a resolution to lose weight this year? Or maybe to get in shape? Or do more walking? Perhaps you said to yourself, "this is the year that I get healthy again." Great! 

Every year my gym begins to overflow with people who have set out to make this year the year they get in shape. In fact, the gym becomes too crowded for those who visit regularly and we look for alternate ways to get in our strength workouts, or change our schedule to use the gym when the "resolution crowd" won't be there. It is what prompted Krista Stryker, the founder of 12minuteathlete.com, a website providing free, incredibly effective high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and awesome fitness motivation for athletes of all levels, to pen a post on LifeHacker - 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Join a Gym This New Year. If you just paid your membership dues, then don't read that until later this year.

Today's post is not about whether you should have a gym membership. My goal today is to encourage you to really make this year the year you accomplish your fitness goals. You have done the first thing - you set a goal. Now what?

1. Make a Plan
Wanting to get in shape is good, but it's not a plan. It's not even a measurable goal. How about writing down three things you could do to become fit again. Make them small things. For example, if your goal is losing weight, a good, but more specific goal might be, "I will lose 10 pounds by March 31st."  Now you need an approach. Your simple plan could be "I won't eat candy every night" or "I will give up drinking soda" or "I will go for a 20 minute walk every day."  If you need some help coming up with some goals that won't be too overwhelming, you should be able to find one at this recent post over at MyFitnessPal.Com - 101 Health and Fitness Resolutions That Rock.  By the way, while you're there, sign up and add me as a friend.

2. Keep It Simple
When I started back in October of 2010 I only had three goals. Eat Right. Exercise. Get Plenty of Rest. Those three simple statements became the foundation of a new lifestyle, but at the time it gave me specific direction. I didn't set a goal for counting calories, or how much time I should  exercise, or even how much sleep to get.  For goodness sake, I didn't even know what BMI was, and I sure had no idea how many calories I should eat. But I knew I needed a plan that would not be overwhelming. To accomplish my Eat Right goal, I started eating a sensible breakfast everyday, and packing a lunch a few protein bars, and then eating a sensible meal each evening after I got done with 15 to 20 minutes of walking. Take the advice of Coach Stevo at MyFitnessPal in his blog post So You Want to Stop…Ditching Your Resolutions by January 5th.  Set goals that are
  • clear,
  • simple, and
  • meaningful to YOU
3. Commit For At Least 60 Days
Give yourself a chance to develop the habit of a healthier lifestyle. Motivation will only get you so far. You need to commit to your goal long enough for the change you want to make to become a habit. Some say it takes at least 21 days, but recent studies show that some changes take quite a bit longer. You might want to take a read of 6 Ways To Become A Creature Of New Habits over at the Huffington Post.

4. Track Something
You will naturally want to track your weight. Just don't do it every day. Once a week is enough. Same time each week. Write it down in a log. However, don't focus only on the weight. The scales don't tell the whole story, so be sure to track something else like your waist, circumference of your thighs, or how many glasses of water you drink each day.

5. You Don't Have To Be Perfect
I have written about this before because I frequently hear people tell me how they messed up their eating one day, or skipped exercise because they just didn't feel like it. You are not taking a test. There is no pass-fail grade. In her article on LiveStrong.Com titled "10 New Year's Resolutions Trainers Wish You'd Make", Linda Melone quotes a bootcamp instructor who says, "Keep your eye on the prize 90 percent of the time and give yourself 10 percent leeway."  You are not taking a test. By the way, nearly every page over at LiveStrong.Com has a quick calorie goal calculator, but I still prefer the one at MyFitnessPal.Com.

Of course, we could add more items to this list. Let's keep it simple. You've set a general goal that you will now divide into smaller more measurable targets. Each one will be small or simple enough you can achieve by committing to your plan for at least 60 days. Remember, you don't have to be perfect.


Eat Right. Exercise. Get Plenty of Rest.
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