Okay, now that you've set your goals, here comes the hard part: sticking to them. Although this journey will be a challenge, we created a tactical list that you can use to make your goals attainable.
Make A Plan & Set A Schedule
If you used the SMART goal frame from the previous article, you will have the beginnings of a pretty solid plan. As with the goal setting, the more specific you make your plan, the better chance you have of achieving your goal. One of the most effective ways to foolproof your plan is to schedule your workouts and meals. It is easy to get sidetracked by your job, family, friends, and other commitments, so looking at your schedule, finding time, and prioritizing your health is really important. If we go back to the example goal of "In X months, I am going to lose X% body fat by working out 3x/week and eating X amount of protein and X amount of veggies with each meal," you will want to give values and dates to those goals.
If you're aiming for 3x/week, reserve 30 min - 1 hr blocks on your calendar Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This may sound silly, but it can help to view your workouts like meetings, and you wouldn't cancel an important meeting, would you? Planning your meals is also a huge key to hitting your weight loss goals. But this doesn't mean that you have to have every meal meticulously planned out or prepped. Simply having a general idea of what healthy meals you want to eat for the week will really help maintain a well-balanced diet. We tend to make poor eating decisions when we are starving, in a rush, or haven't planned ahead.
Find Something You Like
If you only take one thing away from this article, make sure it is this, because the easiest way to adopt a healthier lifestyle is to find things you enjoy! If you hate working out, you aren't doing the right workout, and if you hate healthy food, you aren't eating the right food. I promise you, there are workout and healthy foods that you CAN ENJOY, you just have to find them.
As much as I've tried, I'm not a fan of long distance running. After I stopped playing volleyball, I thought that the only way I could "lean out" by body was by running, so I structured all of my workouts around this idea. This ultimately resulted in me dreading working out, and something that I have always loved to do was becoming a chore. On top of that, my efforts to "lean out" my body were actually resulting in losing muscle and "softening up."
I knew I had to find something new that was fun, challenging, and stimulated me mentally. I looked into kickboxing because I've always been intrigued by the sport and hearing Victoria's Secret models' testimonies, I decided to give it a go! Luckily, I found a gym called Empower, fell in love with kickboxing, started lifting again, and am down ~4% body fat. Most importantly, I am happy and I actually look forward to working out. Even though my workouts are twice as hard, they fly by because I ENJOY them :)
So whether it is Kickboxing, Spin, CrossFit, Zumba, Barry's Bootcamp, or an online program, keep trying workouts until you find something you like! Life is too short to hate anything you're doing.
Establish A Routine
Consistency is the key to sustainable weight loss. It's not easy, but you need to get to a point where you are consistent enough with your healthy choices that they become habits. The most effective way to start establishing good habits is to make a plan, find things you love and stick to them. I stress finding something you love because it is so much easier to be consistent when you don't feel like you are constantly making sacrifices. You don't have to deprive yourself to live a healthier lifestyle. You also have to have patience with yourself and the process. It won't come easy, but anything worth having rarely does.
Grab A Partner
Whether it's dragging them to that new class you've been wanting to try or cooking a healthy meal, having a buddy makes adopting a healthier lifestyle much easier. It may be easy to choose anybody who is looking to lose weight, but make sure you choose wisely. You want someone who is just as determined as you, who will keep you accountable, and who will help inspire you. If you chose someone you know will give up after a couple of weeks, it will be easier to get discouraged and give up as well.
Tell People About Your Goals
The more people you tell about your goals, the more committed you will become. None of us want to be seen as a failure, so when you tell people about your goals it sets an extra layer of accountability. If you tell your colleague that you are giving up processed sugar for a month, you will be less likely to grab that piece of candy when the temptation hits three days later. The best part about telling your friends and family is that you will have an awesome support system cheering you on.
It's All About Balance
- Reward the small wins - It is okay to treat yourself once in awhile. When you hit a goal, go out to a nice dinner, buy something you've had your eye on, or get a massage. When you treat yourself after big wins it will help positively reinforce your efforts.
- Keep it interesting- Getting in a routine and developing good habits are both really important when trying to lose weight, but this doesn't mean that you have to eat the same exact salad every single day. Try new recipes and go to different workout classes. Variety is the spice of life :)
- Kiss the "all or nothing" mentality goodbye - We are all human and there are going to be times when we slip up. Don't let that one bump derail the rest of your hard work. I recently decided that I wanted to try and give up processed sugar for two weeks. A week in, I totally f***** it up and dove face first into a jar of Nutella. Although I was bummed I gave in, I accepted that I'm not perfect and was able to finish the rest of the two weeks sugar free. Looking back, I think the slip-up actually helped me. It gave me the perspective that if this is a lifestyle I am going to choose, there are going to be days where I treat myself or "mess up." It's just about choosing the healthier options 80-90% of the time.