How to Meet Your Weight Loss Goals (Without Losing Your Mind)
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-tzu
I’ve been battling my weight my entire life. The journey feels a lot longer than a thousand miles.
Until I was almost forty, my weight loss goal was simply, “Be thinner.” That’s it. That was my only demand of myself. Not, “Be happier.” Not, “Be healthier.”
Just be thinner.
In my pursuit of the dress size I was “supposed” to be, I tried all the fads. Whatever I read about in a magazine, saw a celebrity doing, or grabbed my attention in the middle of the night on an infomercial was mine. I threw my hard-earned dollars at them and went all in.
Some of the diets were disgusting. Others left me feeling as if I hadn’t eaten anything. A couple even made me sick. I started diets on Monday and fell right off the wagon by Friday.
I spent a fortune on special foods (I didn’t eat), fancy equipment (I didn’t use), and gym memberships (for places I drove by with my head down).
A few years ago, I stared at the weight loss goals (re-written year after year) in my notebook and (with a resigned sigh) decided I needed to start again.
This time, I had a pep talk with myself. “You’re not gonna get crazy. You’re not. You’re going to work hard but you’re not going to beat yourself up for every slip.”
We’re going to slip up sometimes because we’re human.
Imperfect beings with access to delicious (and horrible for the waistline) foods that can be delivered right to your front door. Flawed individuals who have streaming television to watch in binge sessions (with a glass of my favorite wine).
I forget the whole “you’re not a robot” part and I imagine a lot of you do, too.
Starting wasn’t easy. Starting over and over is even harder. Each time, you’re less confident in your success because you remember you’ve already failed so many times.
You have to shut down that inner monologue of negativity and that’s probably the part I struggle with even now. I told myself I wanted to weigh less next year than I do this year. I had to take control of my thoughts.
I needed a spark, something to propel me into action.
Wiping the Slate Clean…Again
You can reach your weight loss goals.
Your reasons for dropping excess pounds are your own. Maybe you want to be able to buckle up on an airplane without a seat belt extender. Maybe it’s about your health – conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or chronic pain that drives your need for change. Or maybe you just want to look great in that perfect little black dress you found. It doesn’t matter!
Whatever your reasons for wanting or needing to lose weight, it starts with one simple truth:
The ideal version of yourself is YOUR VISION and you can do this.
Losing weight doesn’t just reflect a number on your scale. It requires a perfect storm of change to your thoughts, your actions, and your lifestyle.
Secret #1 – Prepare for Battle
Getting started is the toughest part. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t want change so congratulate yourself on taking the first step. You’ve decided not to stay where you are but to move on to something new. Today will be completely different than yesterday.
However, change is never simple.
Your mind will play tricks on you. That small voice of negativity and doubt will rear its ugly head as you embrace your goals for weight loss and start working toward your new life.
That voice is your old habits, embedded in your thinking, resistant to change. Acknowledge your doubt, accept missing your goals in the past, and then let it go.
Take it slow, build one good habit at a time, and show your inner voice that everything is going to be just fine. You’re going to succeed and the changes you make will be good ones.
Secret #2 – Motivation Needs Determination
The key to start your engine is motivation, but the fuel that keeps you running is determination.
Your motivation is what inspires you to buy a new book about exercise, a cookbook about healthy meal plans, or to buy an outfit in a size smaller than you are right now. Motivation is unique to each person.
What drives you to reach your weight loss goals is determination. Without this key ingredient, all the motivation in the world will eventually (and probably quietly) fizzle out. Determination is what keeps you going long after the initial excitement of motivation has worn thin.
When you haven’t hit that magic number on the scale or fit into that outfit.
It’s not easy to keep going. I know that from personal experience. Creating positive thoughts, visualizations, and daily mantras is a powerful and effective way to keep your motivation on track. Remain determined, lit from the inside, about your fitness plans.
There’s only ONE of you and weight is one aspect of the complex fabric of who you are.
In daily life, whether it’s relationships or business decisions or nutrition, I always ask myself a question that simplifies the powerful combination of motivation and determination. “Will this move me closer to my goal…or further away?”
The answer is usually based in common sense and once I have my answer, it makes it easier to keep going. Ask the question, answer the question, keep going.
Secret #3 – Don’t Punish Yourself
This was always the hardest part for me. I still struggle with it now and I bet many of you punish yourselves over perceived failures. Years ago, I saw a meme on social media that had two columns about attending an office party.
Under women, it said, “Look fabulous, be charming, smile, suck in your belly, keep your shoulders back, speak eloquently on every topic, be sexy and intellectual, don’t fidget, and laugh at other people’s jokes.”
Under men, it said, “Don’t pee in the potted plants.”
An oversimplification but not altogether wrong. Women are famous for vicious self-talk. Loving yourself begins with accepting your flaws, celebrating your successes, and knowing that every day is another chance to get it right.
Meeting your goals for weight loss is no different than meeting every other milestone in your life. It’s both challenging and rewarding. Break your plans down to smaller pieces and treat yourself when you hit your goals with something you love. A pedicure, a lunch with friends, a date night with your significant other.
You deserve to feel good.
If you don’t believe losing 5 pounds deserves a reward, compare it to 5 pounds of flour or 20 sticks of butter. It’s a huge accomplishment!
Don’t get stuck in a cycle of deprivation either. The best things in life are pleasure, celebrations, happiness, and enjoyment. Plan an occasional GUILT-FREE day and don’t give yourself any grief about it. Don’t even think twice because tomorrow is literally a new day. Savor your treat day and check your guilt at the door.
The Weight Loss Roadmap
To get where you want to go, you need directions. Charting out where you are today as opposed to where you want to be gives you a clear idea of your weight loss goals are and makes marking each accomplishment that much easier.
This is how I did it. Over two years, I lost 100 pounds and I’ve kept it off. I still have more to lose but I made it here…and that’s huge. One day at a time, one meal at a time, successes, and failures brought me to a place I used to beat myself up to get to.
No surgery. No pills. No expensive meal plans or points or gym memberships.
Studies show that 95% of dieters eventually regain the weight they lost. You can be part of the 5% who keep it off for good.
I kept a journal during my own journey. These are the questions I asked myself the day I started. The answers weren’t easy for me and I doubt they will be for you…and that’s okay.
You know starting is the hardest part.
- Know yourself. What is it that you really want for yourself? Write down in two sentences that describe what meeting your weight loss goals will mean for you. (i.e.: Will it get you off your blood pressure medication? Will it help you look better in jeans? What outcomes are you looking for?)
- What’s held you back? Is it work? Is it your lifestyle? Is it food sabotage? Write down the top three weight loss success killers you’ve experienced.
- What’s your magic number? Be honest. Are you looking to lose 50lbs, 100lbs, 125lbs, 175lbs? What is your ultimate weight loss goal? How will you feel once you make it? What type of feeling are you looking for?
- How can you break it into smaller pieces? What’s a reasonable (and safe) amount of weight for you to concentrate on losing in the next 4 weeks? 5lbs? 8lbs? 10lbs? 15lbs? I set my first six goals small (5lbs) and exceeded them every month. It gave me major confidence to keep going.
- How will you get the weight loss success killers out of your life? This is crucial and takes a firm stance on what you want (and what you have to get rid of) to make it happen. How will you remove these obstacles from your success? One at a time, one week or month at a time?
Right now, you can start over. You can wipe the slate clean and begin fresh. Not because it’s a new year. Not because someone makes you feel bad about your weight. Not because magazines or other media tell you what you’re supposed to look like.
You start over if you want it, if you need it, if you’re ready to take the steps and make the hard choices. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t be easy. You’ll mess up sometimes.
Then there will be the days of pure, exhilarating success. No gimmicks, no fads. Just you doing the work and making things happen.
It’s time to take control. Remember…The ideal version of yourself is YOUR VISION and you can do this. You’ve got this.