‘Weight loss’ – the most common New Year’s resolution. Also the one that is often broken by the first week of January! I think that it is great that people are trying to be healthier but I believe how many try to do it is what is causing the high ‘failure’ rate. When people go ‘on’ a (quick fix) diet they have often not made effective goals for their journey. Goals are the groundwork for the journey to health and often I find that when it is just based on a number it is easy for life to take over and old habits to creep back.
It is good to know what your goal weight is, but make sure that this number is realistic and achievable. If you are striving for a number you were in your early 20’s pre kids, try again! It is often also helpful to aim for a smaller weight loss to start with and reassess once you have achieved this (how easily did the weight come off, how much work did you have to put in etc.). Also useful at this point is to ask if you have any other goals aside from weight goals. These could be as simple as improving energy throughout the day to more health related ones such as lowering your cholesterol level. Write down all your goals – this will give you a reference down the line when you feel like you have lost track.
Because weight loss is such a common goal, and in my experience not a good enough goal to keep people focused, I also generally get my clients to work out why they want to lose the weight. Is it for health reasons (good) or more for vanity reasons (not so good!). There is nothing wrong with wanting to fit into nice clothes or feel better about yourself, but I believe you need something a little more substantial to keep you going. Once you have lost weight you feel great, but then after a while the ‘high’ you felt from it is gone… Will you be able to continue with the good eating habits then? However, if your main reason is to have good energy throughout the day and you notice that this is keeping you from dozing off at 4pm, chances are you will stay with the better eating habits…
I would also suggest that you put a time frame on your goal, but please, a realistic one! You cannot lose 10kg in 1 month; at least you can’t do it healthily! It helps to have some sort of guide to make sure that you are keeping up with the healthy lifestyle and also to make sure that what you are doing is in fact working for you, or whether you need to change something or work harder to get to your goal.
If you have often wanted to lose weight, but have never managed to get to your goal weight or to keep the weight off, it might be time to reassess your ‘number’. Ask yourself these three questions: What do you expect to feel when you reach your goal weight? Are you absolutely sure you will feel like that once you reach your goal or do you think you might be disappointed? And would it be possible to start trying to feel any of those feelings now? This is important because we often associate fantastic feelings with our ‘number’, but feeling great comes from so much more than just your body – being in a happy relationship, having wonderful friends, enjoying your job etc. And if any of these are out of sync your happiness with your weight loss will be limited.
If you have never reached your goal weight, can you think why not? We often have certain habits that get in the way of our weight loss journey. Habits that keep recurring because of our lifestyle. You may need to adapt your lifestyle slightly to enable weight loss. For example those friends that you meet once a week may need to start accepting that you will not drink alcohol every time that you meet with them!
Was there ever a time in your life when, to your surprise, you didn’t struggle with your weight? If there was a time, how different is your lifestyle or are your circumstances now as to when you were at that weight? Interestingly, often when people answer this question they often admit that they were at their lowest rate during some sort of crisis in their life, and were actually not happy at that time. For your success in weight loss try to find the formula that works for you. What steps can you take to adapt your circumstances to successfully lose the weight? This can be the same or different ones to what you have tried in the past, depending on their success rate.
Once you have worked out all the answers to these questions, you will be ready to embark on the lifestyle change. Remember though that this means for life… So are you ready?