2018 has arrived, and for many people so, too, have New Year’s resolutions. So, if you have goals this year pertaining to fitness, wellness, or weight loss, I thought I would share my advice on achieving your goals through gradual, but maintainable changes. I know your first instinct may be to change everything at once, and jump in headfirst, but, I genuinely believe that the key to real, long-lasting change is to begin with gradual, sustainable changes. So, here we go:
I try to avoid using the phrase “be realistic” because I think we all live in our own reality, and what’s realistic for one person, may be unrealistic to another. So, instead, I’ll use the phrase practical. Be practical when it comes to making a plan to achieve your goals. If your goal this year is to lose weight, or to dramatically change your body composition, then the chances are you’re going to want to jump in right away. Prior to losing weight, I remember being so desperate for change that I made myself a schedule that had me working out twice a day, 7 days a week. Not only was that not practical for my schedule, it wasn’t practical for my body, nor would that be practical for anyone’s body. My plan lasted about 2 days before I realized it wasn’t reasonable, and I quit altogether. Being ambitious is a great thing, but if you’re overly ambitious, or desperate for change (trust me, I understand), this could lead to you making a plan that isn’t practical, or sustainable in the long run.
So, instead of jumping in headfirst at an impractical rate, ease into it. Start with the goal of working out 3 days a week, for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Once you accomplish those 3 workouts, you’ll feel motivated to keep going. Of course, later on down the road you can add in more frequent workouts or longer workouts (if you choose to), but initially 3 days a week is a practical, attainable goal, that will get you into a habit of exercising regularly. Furthermore, it will give your body time to recover on the days that you aren’t training, which is crucial, especially when you’re exercising for the first time (or for the first time in a long time.)
Don’t ditch all of your fav foods for kale
First of all, kale is overrated. There, I said it. It’s really not that great, and people should stop writing articles like “75 reasons why you should eat kale.” Not only is kale sub-par, but trying to immediately swap all of your current diet staples for healthy alternatives will likely leave you miserable, defeated, and rushing to hit up the nearest drive thru ASAP. As with exercising, my advice is to ease into the process of change. When I first set out to lose 60 pounds, my diet was atrocious. The two main food groups that I ate were chicken fingers and fries, and sour ju-jubes. (I’m not kidding.) So, instead of instantly switching over to a diet of green plants and brown rice, I eased into it. Instead of hitting up a drive thru in the morning to get a breakfast sandwich, cookies, and a 400 calorie coffee, I made a bagel and coffee at home. Instead of ordering pizza for dinner (or eating 10 chicken fingers), I made a microwaveable Weight Watchers meal instead. Now, obviously I’m NOT implying that bagels and microwaveable dinners are the epitome of health, but what I am implying is that gradually making changes allowed me to transition (with moderate ease) to a healthy diet. Fast forward a few years, and I still consume a healthy diet. (And I still eat bagels sometimes and I haven’t died or gained any weight back.)
Moral of the story: Start with small changes. Cook at home instead of ordering takeout or getting fast food. Allow yourself treats in moderation. Start with one meal at a time, maybe focus on switching your breakfast over to a lower calorie option (if your current breakfast is extremely high in calories.) Don’t overhaul your entire kitchen or diet in one night. Make a gradual change. Make another gradual change. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And in time, you will have overhauled your diet and lifestyle, and set yourself up for sustainable, long term success.
The only person you’re in competition with is you
Losing weight is not a competition. It doesn’t matter that your sister-in-law has lost more weight than you, or that the girl you follow on social media has a thigh gap and you don’t. You’re not them, and they are not you. And the good news is that you’re not in competition with them. The only person you should strive to be better than, or wiser than, is your past self. I know what it’s like to endlessly compare myself to others. Even having lost the weight that I have, I still see other women on social media who have lost more weight, or achieved a “better” body, or put on more muscle than I have. And it leaves me then with two options: I could compare myself to them, feel discouraged, and feel as though my progress isn’t good enough. OR, I could instead compare myself to who I used to be and give myself credit for how far I’ve come. Your progress, no matter how small or how major, counts. Your effort counts. So, instead of comparing yourself to others in order to decide as to whether or not you’ve made progress, compare yourself ONLY to your past self. That’s what matters. The goal is always to be a better version of yourself (physically, mentally, emotionally), and not to be better than someone else.
One day at a time
Our goals can be daunting. They can be scary. They can cause us to feel doubt, fear, and reservation. But they can also give us reason and purpose to move forward, they can give us something to look forward to, something to reach for. Looking at things long term can be defeating at times. Looking at the 30, or 60, or 100 pounds that you’re hoping to lose can make things seem impossible, or unattainable. So, instead, take things one day at a time. Focus on the day ahead of you. And then the next. And then the next. If your goal is significant weight loss, take things one pound at a time. Instead of thinking “I’ve only lost 4 pounds and I still have 71 to go,” think “My efforts have lead to me losing 4 pounds, I am on the right path, I am making progress, I CAN do this after all.” It may sound cheesy to you, but our mindset is everything. Our mind is an incredibly powerful thing, and our self-talk can either help us or hurt us. Which leads me to my next point…
Kick negative self-talk to the curb
“I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, good enough, worthy enough, rich enough, tall enough.” “I’m too fat, too short, my nose is too crooked, I’m too dumb, I’m too lazy, I’m too opinionated.” “I’ll never be good enough, I’ll never be beautiful, I’ll never amount to anything, I’ll never lose weight.” ALL of these statements need to go. They do not serve you in any way, shape, or form. Self-deprecating and self-loathing dialogue is incredibly harmful to our self-esteem and self-worth, and statements like this serve absolutely no purpose on your path to self-improvement and self-growth. Be very mindful of your self-talk. If you find yourself saying (or thinking) damaging things about yourself, shut those words (or thoughts) down. If you wouldn’t say them to your best friend, then you shouldn’t say them to yourself. Learn to treat yourself (this will take some time) like your own best friend. Be your own cheerleader, encourage yourself, support yourself, tell yourself that you can do, be, or become whatever you desire. Because that’s the damn truth.
Anytime someone messages me about my weight loss, telling me that they wish they could to the same, I tell them that if I could do it, they can do it. And that’s the truth. So whatever your goals may be this year, whether related or unrelated to weight loss, know that you can achieve them. If you believe that you can, and you’re ready and willing to take action, I can all but guarantee that you will accomplish whatever you set out to do. Welcome to 2018 y’all, I’m rooting for each and every one of you. Let’s make things happen.