If you wanted to lose weight and get fit and healthier in 2019, join the long list of people who cite this as their key goal and resolution this year. Weight loss and greater fitness are intentions many of us have at the beginning of each year, yet statistics show that a nominal percentage of us will actually follow-through and make those intentions a reality.
Two months of the year have already gone by and by now you may have lost sight of those noble goals and have intentions to get back on track. I want to offer some tips that may help you approach these coveted weight loss and fitness endeavors with a different and renewed mindset.
TIP #1: Stop looking for the “ideal” state to start or follow-through
“I’ll start New Year’s day. “
“When things slow down at work, I’ll start focusing on myself.”
“When my kids are (fill in the blank), I’ll have more time to exercise.”
“Things are just crazy right now–it’s hard to focus on eating right..”
“It’s a stressful time so it’s hard to eat right…I need to be in the right frame of mind.”
These are just a few of the things I hear when I ask people what is preventing them from making their desired weight loss and fitness goals a reality.
Well here’s a blinding flash of the obvious for you— unless you are independently wealthy, are moving to an island, and have nothing to do– there will most likely NEVER be an ideal state where you have unlimited time and energy to focus on exercise and how you eat. Making your own well-being a priority is a decision that only you can make.
I tell my clients to create a “well-being and wellness “vision”. What would you look and feel like if you were at optimum wellness and in a state of well-being? What would you be doing? What would you not do? Write it down.
What must you start saying “yes” to in order to get there? What must you say “no” to? What are the consequences to yourself (and to others) if you aren’t at your optimum wellness state?
Carry the vision and answers to these questions around with you and vow to make the time to realize this into reality.
TIP #2: There is no “magic bullet” or “one size fits all” approach–and yes, it gets harder as you get older
You probably know by now that diets don’t work. You might also have noticed that as soon as you hit your 40’s (for those of you who haven’t yet, you’ll get this when you do), the old “rules” of losing weight and eating don’t work anymore. Your metabolism is unique to you, as are your hormones, and as your body changes, so does how you metabolize different foods. The old advice of “no carbs” or “3-square meals a day” may not work for you and your unique needs–and your metabolism may require much less food, even if you are making healthy choices. As someone who has maintained my current weight for over 25 years, and get asked how I do it, I will tell you that it is a constant experimentation process. I eat differently now than I did even just 5 years ago. I am constantly experimenting and listening to my body and finding the right blend of foods that make me feel at my best. As a rule of thumb–I do not eat red meat, fried foods, creamy sauces, or anything cooked in butter. I don’t add salt to my food and try to eat only whole wheat bread or pasta when I have those foods. I eat small bites of sweets and dark chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth, and I limit my restaurant food choices to simply grilled options. I’ve tried gluten-free, sugar-free, no carb, keto, vegan–you name it, I’ve tried it. What I realized is that my body craves nutritious foods and does best with a few basics. Oatmeal, whole wheat toast, egg whites, occasional grilled fish, brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes, almond butter and select fruits and vegetables are the staples of my daily food choices–with a keen eye on portion control. The key, however–is not for you to adapt my diet–but to find one that works for your body and to make that the way you eat 90% of the time. It should not be a temporary diet but a permanent choice of foods that are in service of your wellness vision and strategy.
TIP #3: Regular exercise is not a “nice-to-have” option when you have the time–it is a wellness imperative for sustained health
Exercising is not one of my favorite things. I don’t get a runner’s “high” and gym class was the class I was always finding an excuse to get out of when I was a kid. I didn’t play sports in high school and college and I would rather read a book than climb a wall. That said, getting regular exercise has been part of my lifestyle for decades. Why? Because I know that our bodies need to be exercised regularly in order to maintain heart health, bone density, flexibility, coordination, range of movement, and the like, That may not sound flashy and appealing, but I think it is a pretty good reason to invest my precious time in for the future. Much like we invest our money in places that we hope will pay off in the future– exercise is a long-term investment into our wellness account that we hope will reap dividends every year.
TIP #4: Exercising is not a license to eat more or to eat unhealthy foods
I hear this one all the time “I’m going to the gym today so that I can eat donuts (or fill in the blank with whatever unhealthy food you crave). As someone who has studied health and wellness for decades and who also has a wellness coaching certification, I can tell you this for certain– more exercise will NOT compensate for poor nutrition. You are what you eat. Period.
As you embark on fulfilling your new fitness and weight loss or healthy eating intentions this year, I urge you to not think of them as “goals” to be achieved, but rather as part of the person you are becoming. Think of them as a permanent part of the best version of yourself, and remember that each and every moment you have a choice to move away from or towards that person.
What will you choose?