I thought I’d put together a list (thanks to my client Heidi for the idea) of the best advice I’ve ever given as well as gotten as part of trying to be healthier, and live an active lifestyle. Some of these I’ve
stolen borrowed from my own coach or my first PT, others I’ve heard along the way, and some just from learning on my own. Feel free to share with others who may need to hear this advice too!
In no particular order:
Be honest with yourself. Write out what you’re going to eat the day before. Even if you know you’re going to have a fast food breakfast, it’s better to be honest and have that reflection. It works in reverse as well: Writing down that you plan to have a balanced, healthy dinner and then following through with it, gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. It’s also a small level of accountability you can have with yourself at the end of the day – looking over what you wrote down what you WANTED to eat versus what you ACTUALLY ate. Do they match? Why not?
Workout when you are least motivated. Sounds strange, but when you absolutely have zero desire to get on your running shoes or get in your car to head to the gym, THAT is the time you should. Many people experience a huge sense of satisfaction when they are DONE working out. “I really didn’t feel like it at all but by the time I was done, I felt BETTER!” Sooner or later, you’ll get into the habit of going, even when your body might be saying, “Let’s just stay home.”
Sleep trumps exercise everyday of the week. If I was ever approached by a client who suffered from insomnia and was trying to lose weight, I would turn them down for PT until they got into a habitual sleep pattern that included a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. Why? Because chances are they are not losing weight because they can’t sleep. Until that is corrected, I’d be stealing their money and they would show zero results. If you have a choice between going to bed early or going to the gym late for a workout, always always always opt for sleep.
Mentality. If you start to view your food as fuel, you are much less likely to hit the drive thru or eat out at the chain restaurants. When you’re first thought of when you hear the word or think the word “food” is “FEAR” or “WEIGHT GAIN”, or “DEPRIVATION” then you have the wrong mentality. When your first thought is “FUEL” and “NOURISHMENT” and “HEALTH” you will never be tempted to have crappy, greasy, and garbage food ever again. It’s a relationship that might take years to get to a good place. It takes time to learn how to cook good food too. Learning to cook even something as basic as steaming vegetables and baking chicken gets you one step closer to feeling good and looking good.
Shop the perimeter. There is no reason to go down the middle aisles of a supermarket when the majority of what you should eat is on the perimeter. Granted, there are exceptions: Whole grains, oils, nuts, and some baking needs are in the aisles. But 90% of what goes in your cart is available in the perimeter. Load up on veggies, fruits, lean proteins and fats, and you are good go. Plus, you’re cart will be so full of the good stuff, there won’t be much room for the junk.
Goals should be something you can control. I stole this one from my coach although I had learned it many years ago. Don’t focus on having a goal of losing X amount of pounds in X amount of time. How can you control that? If we knew exactly how to lose fat, we’d all look exactly the same because no one would have a weight problem. You cannot control your metabolism to the degree that you tell it exactly how many pounds you want to lose. Your goals should be simpler yet a challenge. Examples:
I will drink 4L of water today.
I will not have alcohol with dinner this week.
I will have protein with all my meals today.
I will get up 15 minutes early to make breakfast tomorrow.
You cannot spot reduce. If we could choose where the fat on our body could disappear from, that would be like discovering the fountain of youth. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. And speaking from experience, you cannot choose where the fat COMES on your body either. You think I want the fat to go directly to my stomach?! Yeah it’s irritating but the difference is, I know the endgame: More muscle. I know it’s temporary to have this layer of fat on me right now. Same goes for when I’ll diet down, I know I might lose it in places that are not ideal (ummm Chest?) but, this is the way the body works. So enough with the “Can we just do exercises that get rid of the extra fat on my inner thighs? And can we just do abs and crunches so I can get rid of this belly fat?” Sure! Let me just get my magic wand…
Your behavior should match your goals. Stole this one from Precision Nutrition. This goes back to being honest with yourself. If you have a goal of losing fat and weeks go by with little to no success in that area, you most likely give up, right? But if you take a look at what your behavior was those weeks, what would you see? Someone who worked out 5 days a week? Someone who ate 5 balanced meals a day? Someone who got 7 hours+ of sleep? Someone who did everything you’re supposed to when you’re dieting? If you only have yourself to hold you accountable, you have to be honest with yourself and evaluate where you went wrong. You might see that you only worked out twice a week and you ended a few sessions early because you weren’t feeling it. Or you skipped lunch a few days because you got busy at work. And you never did prep your food for the weekend so you binged on junk. Adjust your behavior before you set your goals because that is a huge reason why many people fail.
Bloodwork tells a big story. I think people hear “I have a thyroid problem” and automatically assume someone must be lying or using an excuse for their stagnant progress. As much as I hate to hear “Ever since I hit menopause I just can’t lose this weight,” or “Ever since I had babies, I can’t lose this weight,” many times, it’s a contributing factor to someone’s progress. Yes, specifically women but men as well if they have cortisol or testosterone imbalances. I won’t use this blog as a shameless plug but if you are interested in learning more about how hormones affect your weight loss, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss. In the meantime, ask your doc to run a panel of tests on your thyroid, cortisol, and hormone levels to see what’s going on. Adrenal fatigue, stress, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism are all contributors to why SOME people cannot lose weight.
The scale doesn’t tell the story. If you’re frustrated by the lack of movement in the direction the scale might be going, first, you need to read this story from my friend Leslie who contributed to my blog last year. Secondly, you don’t have to throw it out, but consider weighing yourself once a week and then maybe once a month. Lastly, stop thinking of that number and start measuring inches. Yes, that’s yet another number but almost everyone who reaches a plateau (and it WILL happen) notice that although the scale didn’t budge, the measurements did. That’s called Progress. 🙂 You went down a dress size yet the scale only moved 3 pounds? Oh gee, I guess you gained something called muscle. If you’re still disgruntled, check out the following visuals.
I hope these tips were helpful and informative for you. If you liked what you just read, please share and comment!