There's no shortage of workouts, diets, and opinions on how best to lose weight in the fastest manner possible. From low fat to low carb, Paleo to Veganism, from P90X to CrossFit, kettlebells to interval training, everybody's got an answer.
It's so overwhelming, and we can find ourselves oscillating between paralysis by analysis and program-hopping inconsistency. Neither will get us the results that we want.
We can fool ourselves into thinking that we don't have what it takes to lose weight and lose it for good. This mindset is a good way to procrastinate on actually getting started on our goals. If we never start, then we can't screw up.
Or we can make the mistake of blaming our lackluster results on not having these 5 things:
1. A Complete Lifestyle Overhaul
While this may work for a few people, most people need a more gradual, practical approach in order to reach and maintain results successfully (and without losing their minds!). Making simple habit changes, a little at a time, has been proven to work well.
For better or worse, habits are what make life a little easier. We don't have to waste too much mental bandwidth on whether or not to brush our teeth or drive the same route to work. We can go on autopilot. When we do something repetitively, it actually rewires our brains to create those "autopilot" pathways. That's why it's so hard to break a bad habit. We are having to go against the grain every time we turn around, and that's exhausting. We have to expend more mental energy to do something different or to avoid doing something. And add in life's usual stresses and obstacles, and we struggle to stay the course.
Try the goal snowball approach -- take on one simple habit at a time for two weeks and don't worry about anything else. This concentrated focus allows for the most mental bandwidth to be spent on doing one thing consistently and not working on several things and not doing any of it well enough to see results. After the habit feels easy to accomplish everyday, add another. Try these:
* Eat just enough food to satisfy hunger without feeling "stuffed"
* Eat a serving of protein at each meal
* Eat 2 servings of veggies at each meal
* Go for a walk after dinner everyday
* Drink half your body weight in ounces each day
* Sleep at least 7-8 hours each night
You may just find yourself improving other areas of your life as a domino effect of tackling just one habit.
2. An Expensive Gym Membership
While a gym membership can be great to have, at-home workouts can be just as effective as gym workouts. With just a few pieces of equipment, you can have a home gym that can get the job done. The key is intensity and progressive overload. As long as we are using challenging rep ranges, exercises, and weights, we can get fit, lose body fat, and gain strength.
There are so many options for do-anywhere workouts --- check out my Fast Fit workouts on Instagram (@bkinetic), and while you're at it, sign up to receive a free copy of my new Fast Fit Challenge workout guide (click here). My Home Gym on a Budget blog post can give you plenty of ideas for building an affordable home gym. Not to mention there are a plethora of bodyweight exercises that will give you a proper butt-kicking. ;-)
3. Massive Amounts of Unwavering Motivation
Motivation isn't something that you either have or don't have. It's something that can be created and then tapped into when needed. Action spurs motivation, instead of the other way around.
And the kind of sustained motivation that makes you put on your sneakers and hit the gym come rain or shine comes from what you truly value in life. This may be your family, career, physique, fitness, hobbies, or other interests. And these priorities change and shift over time. They become more or less of a part of our identity.
If you set a goal to look ripped for summer but your highest current priorities are your stressful job and your kids, well then, you may not get too far with the process or be able to maintain that level of body fat for long. Your work will inevitably interfere with your training sessions and the kids will have activities and homework that needs to be done, trumping healthy meal prepping. And what will win out every time? Your priorities. Your workouts and diet will always come second (or third or tenth).
When push comes to shove, we revert back to our habits and what is the biggest priority, no matter how much we "should" ourselves about the other stuff. We can't do it all, so we need to choose wisely and be okay with those choices, as well as be realistic about what we can accomplish consistently.
And let's not kid ourselves about having to wait for the motivation to hit us before we'll get started (or keep going). Just do something.
4. The Perfect Plan
The perfect plan doesn't exist. We are all so different when it comes to fat loss and fitness that what works for one person doesn't work for another. The trick is to figure out what is the thing that's going to be the best for us. The things we must take consideration when it comes to workout programs and diets include:
* food intolerances/sensitivities
* fitness level
* skill level
Ultimately, the most important thing that will dictate how successful we'll be long-term with a diet and exercise plan is: Will we actually follow it consistently? Can we see ourselves eating/exercising this way in 5 years? 10 years?
The perfect plan for you is the one you'll actually do.
5. Ironclad Willpower
Careful energy management and building healthy habits do more for consistency and results than all the whiteknuckling in the world. And our self-talk and self-belief go a long way. If we are constantly telling ourselves, "I just have no willpower when it comes to sweets" or "I'll never lose these 20 pounds," then we're setting ourselves up for failure. We give ourselves permission to never even get started.
Our thoughts affect our attitudes and actions. If we cannot lose those negative thoughts, then we are doomed to a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and frustration. Results never last when we think in the back our minds that eventually we will screw it all up. And that has nothing to do with willpower.
According to Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct, willpower is something that can be strengthened and improved with practice. So we are not destined to lack the necessary self-control when we need it most. We don't need unflagging willpower 24/7/365. We just need to build it up, use it when we must, but not rely on it as our only means of getting through a diet.
The one thing that we do need...
Regardless of who we are, the goals we pursue, and the path we choose to follow, our mindset is what determines how successful we are in the end.
The Champion Mindset is comprised of 4 things:
* Consistency --- doing the daily tasks necessary to achieve results
* Persistence --- sticking with them for the long haul, despite obstacles and hard choices
* Perspective --- knowing that the next few weeks or months are just a blip on the radar of our entire lives, being patient with the process, and pursuing progress and not perfection
* Resilience --- the ability to bounce back after a slip-up or failure without judgement, and move on
Contrary to popular belief, even fit pros struggle with healthy eating and consistent exercise. We are human, and not all that different from the average Jane. We don't possess more willpower than the next gal. We don't always feel motivated to work out. We don't have perfect eating habits. We too are subject to getting impatient with our progress and looking for that next shiny object in the form of the latest and greatest diet or workout plan.
What we do have are the tools to create a fit and healthy lifestyle. We know what the big rocks are that actually move the dial, and which ones just lead us down a dead-end road littered with our best intentions and failed attempts. We don't let a lack of the five things listed above deter us from our goals.
That's it. That's the only difference. Once you make that shift into the #ChampionMindset, you can really start making progress.