The Best Way To Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

It’s no surprise that the gym population grows in January and soon starts to dwindle in the following months.

Most people go into a new year thinking about a new self. We set resolutions about lifestyle changes – whether it be adding exercise, quitting bad habits or setting your sights on a new job, it’s going to take dedication to get there.

All to often what happens is we set our long term goals without thinking about all the steps in between that are going to get us there. When there is no preset plan, you set yourself up for a very bumpy and possibly messy path to reach your goals.

It's not just the end goal that matters, intentionally take steps towards your goal.

It’s not just the end goal that matters, intentionally take steps towards your goal.

Has this ever happened to you? You set a weight loss goal for an important event in two months. The first few weeks you start out strong, drinking water, sticking to your caloric intake, incorporating exercise and you are feeling good. Then you step on the scale to see the same number from the week before and you get discouraged. Because you’re discouraged you have a cheat meal, that cheat meal feels like a good way to feel sorry for yourself and before you know it, that one cheat meals takes you totally off course for a week or more. You take a look at the calendar and realize the event is now only a couple weeks away and you are no where near your goal.

DEFEATED. DISAPPOINTED. DISCOURAGED.

Now let’s look at the same scenario in a slightly different way.

LONG TERM GOAL: Lose x amount of pounds in two months.  (By the way, weight loss goals should never be more than 2lbs per week – so the MAXIMUM amount of loss assigned to a 2 month period should be 16 lbs – a more realistic goal would be 10 – 12 lbs. Click here to learn more about realistic losses.)

Instead of only focusing on the end result of let’s say a 10 pound loss over 8 weeks, set your mind to think about it one week at a time. What can you do THIS week to take a step towards your ultimate goal?

This week you can increase water consumption to 1/2 your body weight in ounces, you can track your calories, and you can incorporate exercise. Set some specific goals around those actions.

At the end of the week evaluate where you were with accomplishing those goals. If you achieved them – fantastic! You are inspired to take on week two and possibly even take your weekly goals to the next level. If you didn’t succeed, you can quickly evaluate where you failed, what changes you have to make and recommit to your goals. The end goal is still within reach and hope is not lost!

My point is, when we only focus on the end and not the steps in between it makes achieving our goals incredibly more challenging. Incremental accomplishments keep us motivated! Just the same as incremental failures give us the opportunity to reset more quickly than to completely give up on our goals and revert back to our old way of living.

Each week I encourage you to set 3 goals – each of which will lead to a healthier you:

  1. Nutritional – a goal surrounding tracking caloric intake, increasing fruit and veggie consumption, increasing water consumption, etc.
  2. Physical – go to the gym for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week, run a 5k in less than 30 minutes, complete 2 cardio workouts of 30 minutes and 3 resistance training workouts of 45 minutes
  3. Personal: go to bed at 10pm, read for 20 minutes every day, call a friend and invite them to coffee

There are important factors to consider when writing goals that I didn’t tap into today. To learn more about writing goals I encourage you to take the time to read these two blog posts:

Are Your Goals SMART?

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Sensitive

3 Questions to Consider When Writing Goals

  • Am you ready to make the change?
  • How will this change impact your quality of life?
  • Are you willing to make this a lifestyle change?
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Lessons From Vacation

I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Colorado. Being a Midwestern girl I had no idea what to expect.

Words cannot express my appreciation for the beautiful landscape. I often found myself limited to simply conveying my awe with the words, “Wow! God did this!”

The vastly different landscape fascinated me and had some pretty dramatic affects on my body.

The first thing I noticed was a dull headache – nothing too painful but definitely an indication that something was wrong. Thankfully there was plenty of water around and after consuming about double what I normally would I found myself returning to normal.

As a runner and one who enjoys cardio workouts I was shocked when we arrived and I “sucked wind” to just get through my first day on the slopes. Simply walking my snowboard from the bottom of the mountain back to the lift left me feeling completely out of breath and thankful for the long lift ride to recover.

The thing about that long ride is that there is also a long distance down! I saw one sign that said the ride down was 2 miles long. As one who learned to snowboard on hills in Michigan the mountain terrain was unlike anything I had ever seen. Needless to say the trip down required more breaks than normal.

By day four the fatigue had set in. My quad muscles were so tired that just standing caused my legs to bounce and shake. As I headed to the top of the mountain I had lost all the courage I had the first couple days. My trips to the bottom were extremely slow to help me stabilize on the snowboard.

After just 3 trips down I realized that my body had simply had enough. The rest of my afternoon would be spent watching college basketball in the lodge.

While disappointing that my last day turned into a bust for snowboarding I was overall thankful for the lessons I learned on one of the best vacations of my life.

First, when on vacation and participating in physical activity it is imperative that you listen to your body. The headache was my first indication of the possibility of altitude sickness. If I had not taken in the amount of fluids that I did I most certainly would have experienced more dramatic effects of the altitude.

Secondly, it was very apparent that just because I was capable of certain things on my own terrain didn’t necessarily mean that I was going to be able to succeed with those same tasks in a new environment. The steeper and longer slopes kept me from perfecting my turns and the lessened oxygen levels kept me from successfully running the stairs at Red Rocks.

The last and probably most important lesson was despite any physical or environmental limitations I learned how to embrace the challenges and have fun! It’s easy to get discouraged when you are accustomed to performing at a certain level and you’re unable to attain it, however, the simple fact of getting out there and experiencing new challenges. Trying something new is an accomplishment in itself and should be enjoyed and celebrated!

Grab a Partner

Do you prefer to do things alone or do you like to be with others? Does going at it solo or using a group approach impact your success?

When it comes to exercise accountability is a major factor. Many people have a hard time creating a sense of accountability on their own. If you are in a program by yourself, only you really know if you cheat on your diet or skip a workout. Often times this doesn’t have much of a negative impact. Certainly you might feel bad about it, but in the long run it might not mean much.

By creating an accountability relationship with your diet and exercise program you have a greater reason to stick to your commitments that just yourself – you have the potential to let someone else down. None of us like the feeling of doing that.

One thing that we ALL like the feeling of is picking someone up! So look at it from the other side, your friend or spouse calls you and says; “I just don’t feel like doing this today. I need a rain check.”

This is a perfect opportunity for you to open a dialog with them and find out the root of their reason for not wanting to stick with the program. Maybe they really have something going on and need help through it. Or maybe it’s just that they “just don’t feel like it.” In either case, you have an opportunity to really step up to be an encouragement to your accountability partner.

Let’s face it – we all need a little kick in the behind sometimes. Find yourself a friend or ask your spouse to be your accountability partner. Sit down and create some guidelines for your relationship in relation to your diet and exercise goals. Then work to help each other remain true to the things you are setting out to accomplish.

I think you’ll find working with an accountability partner to be a true benefit to your program. Not to mention the growth you will see in your personal relationship with that person.

Who’s going to be your partner?