I’ve been working in the weight loss industry for 2.5 years, and throughout this time, I’ve significantly shifted my views on weight loss.
I’ve come to understand that, while the weight loss industry is built on workout programs and meal plans, coaches should be paying more attention to the psychology of change.
Health and fitness is far too focused on WHAT to do, and we’ve been ignoring HOW to do it.
I bet you’ve started workout plans, meal plans, calorie counting, shakes, detoxes and/or many other strategies… and I bet you’ve also failed to finish those plans.
Now I don’t like to use the word ‘failed’, but I wrote it because I’m guessing you’ve labelled yourself as a failure, because you didn’t complete some, or all these programs.
You were told exactly what to do, so why didn’t you just do it? #nikestyle
There must be something wrong with you, right?
NO! There’s nothing wrong with you at all…
The problem is in the programs… the problem is, they all had a missing link.
Change psychology, changing habits, preventing overwhelm, reducing barriers to a healthy life… that all comes down to mindset. You can have the best program in the world, but if you don’t have the mindset, you won’t make the change.
Now let me be clear; I am in no way saying you should walk into a weight loss plan with the perfect mindset!
I’m am saying, any weight loss program should support you to develop a healthier mindset.
The problem is not, nor has it ever been in you. The problem is in the programming. Here’s how you overcome the shortfalls…
“I’m just not motivated or determined enough”
I’ll be blunt… lack of motivation is just a convenient excuse! When we say ‘I’m not motivated’, what we really mean is ‘it’s not a priority for me’ or ‘I don’t really want to do it’. You don’t need to find a bucket of motivation to do something you really want to do; you just do it.
The motivation excuse is an off the cuff comment that enables us to validate our choices, without having to analyse them.
So stop blaming motivation! Instead, start acknowledging that every decision you make, is a choice. Then take responsibility for the choices you make, and the consequences that occur as a result.
This is step 1 of developing a healthier mindset.
The first thing that probably came to mind when you read the word ‘barriers’ is:
“I don’t have time”.
I’ll be blunt again… I think “I don’t have time” is also a cop out. You can read my reasons here.
No, when I say barriers, I mean the stuff that throws a spanner in the works when we’re actively trying to change our lives — not just the excuses we tell ourselves. Things like:
Approximately 50% of my clients are participating in programs that I’ve modified to prevent aggravation of their injuries or pain. An ‘off the rack’ training plan simply will not work for many of these clients — it may not work for you either?
Exercise history —
Many of my clients haven’t exercised for months or even years. Even those who have been exercising regularly may not have strength trained for a while, or ever. This needs to shape the program I provide them, because I don’t want their muscles to be screaming for a week… or worse, injure them.
If you haven’t exercised for more than 3 months or have only been completing light exercise such as walking, a high intensity interval training plan isn’t the best place to start.
Cooking skills —
Some of my clients aren’t very good at cooking. This is completely ok; but I know I have to support them to improve their cooking skills, so they feel confident preparing unprocessed foods.
Nutritional Control —
Eating healthy is simple when you’re single and you live alone. As soon as someone else’s wants and needs are to be considered, it complicates things. One of the biggest struggles my clients face is approaching a weight loss plan when their partner is not… especially if their partner does a lot of the cooking.
Responsibility for others —
This is often the biggest barrier of all, especially for my clients who are mostly parents and grandparents. Many of my clients cannot simply pack their workout gear and head to the gym; they have children to supervise.
Most of my clients also struggle to complete a 60-minute workout; the attention span of a 3-year-old creates broken, distracted workouts. And this isn’t a problem, workouts can be planned to take this into account… but it is a barrier that must be acknowledged when choosing training plans.
These are just some examples…
of the most common barriers faced by my clients. But the fact is, you’ll have your own. It’s imperative that you understand these barriers, and either adapt your weight loss plan to work around them, or choose a coach who will do this for you.
This is step 2 of developing a healthier mindset.
You’re going on a cruise in 4 weeks and you want to look great. You’d love to lose 20kg before you leave, so you can feel confident wearing the bikini you saw in the window of your favourite boutique last week.
Let’s be honest… Health concerns aside, if you want to lose 15kg in a month, you must make drastic changes both in nutrition and exercise. If you haven’t exercised for years, your body will not handle the pressure of exercising at the level you need to lose 15kg. If you’ve been eating junk consistently, your mind will not allow you to throw it all out and consistently only eat great food in smaller portions for the month to lose that 15kg.
So you don’t do those things… you don’t exercise as hard as you need to, you don’t eat the way you need to, yet you still expect to lose 15kg. Then at the end of the month, when you jump on the sad step, you fall apart because it didn’t work. You’re devastated because you can’t have that new bikini.
Then you look for other options, jumping from quick fix to quick fix because you’ve “tried everything and it isn’t working”.
The problem wasn’t the program. In all honesty, most weight loss programs on the market will get you results if you stick to them. But in this scenario, you set your expectations far too high and your body and mind simply can’t do the work.
So when you’re choosing a weight loss plan, reverse engineer it. Make a list of what you can implement, making sure you account for your barriers. Then choose a realistic goal based on the work you’re prepared to do.
This is step 3 of developing a healthier mindset… and these 3 steps combined, create a great foundation upon which to build your healthier life.
Originally published at medium.com