If you are reading this, you've likely tried to lose weight at one point or another. Whether it's losing 100 lbs or that last pesky layer of body fat, it takes hard work and planning to hit your weight loss goals.
A couple of months ago I was starting to get frustrated. I've been teeter tottering around the same weight for awhile and although I felt like I was eating healthier and working out more, I wasn't seeing the results I was looking for. I was sick of this and realized that I needed to mix it up. I knew that documenting my progress would keep me accountable and give me the opportunity to help you reach your goal as well.
The scale has never been an accurate measurement for me. I can physically see drastic changes in my body with maybe a 1/2 lb change on the scale, so I had my body fat tested to get a more accurate baseline. It just so happened that there was a bodyspec truck across the street from my gym so I decided to give it a go. After basically getting my body xerox copied I got my test results back and was pretty shocked. It was way higher than expected and out of the "athlete zone," which put a fire under my ass.
My goal as of Oct. 1st was to lose 1% body fat per month for a total of 3% by the new year, which seemed reasonable and would put me in the athlete zone. After 3 months I now weigh .4 lbs more (confirmed my scale theory) but I am down 3.3% body fat and up 5lbs in lean mass. In essence, I lost 5lbs of fat and replaced it with 5lbs of muscle.
Before I get into the first step to a successful weight loss journey, I want to be very transparent. Everyone's body reacts uniquely to different diets and exercise routines, so I cannot provide you with step by step directions on how to lose weight through these articles. What these series will do is arm you with the tactics and tools I used so that you can apply them to your own weight loss journey.
START WITH YOUR END VISION AND REVERSE ENGINEER YOUR GOAL
It sounds technical, but the high-level concept of reverse engineering is to break something down in order to understand how to rebuild it. A lot of weight loss goals fail because people go into them with the goal to lose more weight, but there is no plan in place on how to do that. With reverse engineering, you start with “I am going to lose more weight” and then break it down into bite size benchmarks that are more manageable to tackle.
For example, a very simple thought process could look something like this:
“How do people successfully lose weight?”
People lose weight by exercising and eating healthier.
"What do they do to exercise and eat healthier?"
They workout at least 3x/week and eat more protein and vegetables.
Ok, so my goal is to go to my favorite class, follow the 38Plank 6-week challenge, or even just walk 3x/week. I also want to eat at least a fistful of protein and two fistfuls of veggies for lunch and dinner.
When goals are too broad, it is easy to get overwhelmed and give up, but if you have smaller goals you can work towards every day, you will feel like you are actually getting closer to accomplishing your ultimate goal.
A good way to start reverse engineering is to make Smart Goals…
MAKE SMART GOALS
Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based) goals is one of the most effective first steps to reverse engineer your goal.
Specific- If your goal is too general, it is easier to fall behind. If we go back to the “I am going to lose more weight” goal, being more specific would be "In 3 months I am going to lose X amount of body fat by working out 3x/week and eating X amount of protein and X amount of veggies with each meal"
Measurable - As you can see in the example above, your goals become more specific when you add quantitative metrics. Determining X lbs, X% body fat, X times per day or week, and in X amount of time, all keep you accountable because you either hit that number or you don't.
Achievable - Setting goals can be exciting, but we have to make sure we are being honest with ourselves. If you can't currently run a mile and your goal is to compete in an iron man in a month, it is not likely that you will be able to accomplish that goal. But, if you set a goal to run a 5k in 1 month, you can eventually work your way up through half marathons, marathons, etc.
Realistic- Even if your goal is achievable, you still have to take time, budget, and prior commitments into consideration. I've talked to a lot of moms using the 6-week challenge, and they love the at home workouts because it is almost impossible for them to go to the gym every day. If you're a 20 something paying rent in a big city, you most likely won't have the budget to go to Soul Cycle or Barry's Boot Camp 5x/week either. Mix in free workouts from online resources or a fitness app with your classes to get your goal amount of exercise without breaking the bank.
Time-based- Not having a set time frame makes it really easy to keep pushing your goals back until eventually you forget or give up. How many times have you said that you will start doing X, Y, or Z next week? I say it too often, which is the reason I started writing this article. Set a time limit to your goal so you know how fast you need to go and how hard you are going to have to work to get there.
Take some time to really think and set your goals and come back Wednesday for Pt. 2 of the how to lose weight series.