I’m going to get right to the point here because it's the new year, and you probably ate your weight in sugar cookies and stuffing over the last week (okay, me too).
So now you’re thinking it’s time to lose a few pounds. You may even say your new year’s resolution is to lose weight. So you dig up a celebrity diet book and sign up for a gym you know you’ll hate going to in some hope for success.
Here’s the problem with that - losing weight is a process, not a destination. Being 10 pounds lighter than you are right now might be a destination, but it’s going to be a fleeting one if you can’t figure out a process that will get you there and keep you there, too.
Instead, set goals that will support the body you want. Be realistic about what’s possible for you, and what’s not. Sure, you can white-knuckle your way to a leaner physique for a few weeks on a diet of tilapia and steamed broccoli, but you can’t do that for life.
You can’t and you won’t.
As Jill Colman, fellow fitness writer puts it, “the reality is that you can be perfect or you can be consistent. But you can’t be both. And being a little less perfect allows you to be a little more consistent.”
So what to do instead?
Focus on weight loss habits that will stand the test of time (and laziness).
Find a nutritional protocol that you can know deep down you can do and never feel deprived (try increasing healthy fats and reducing sugars and grains!). Look at your habits right now - the ones that are holding you back from your ideal body and start negotiating. Consider what you’re willing to let go of to live a leaner life (for me that’s desserts, bread, and sugar) and what you want to hang on to because you love it (cream in my coffee and the occasional indulgence in ketchup chips and vino). This is your nutritional middle ground. It may take you longer to lose weight this way, but it’s going to keep you there without being miserable.
Find an approach to movement that you can fall in love with.
I’m not even talking about formal exercise here because let’s face it - some of you hate to workout and I get it. If that’s the case, embrace something super simple like brisk walking. Make it your thing and really get into it. Figure out where you can walk that will keep it interesting, what to listen to while you’re out there, or who you can bring along with you. Gameify it to keep you going - “if I walk 3 miles in under an hour, I’ll watch Real Housewives tonight, guilt-free”.
If walking’s not your jam, figure out what is, but just be sure to move. Personally, I love yoga and walking. I lift weights and do some occasional cardio, not because I love it, but because I love the way I feel when it’s done, and I love the idea of looking like a strong badass in my 80’s, so that’s enough to keep up the momentum. As a result, I’ve been working out 5 to 6 days a week for the past 10 years now, and it’s never been a chore.
Focus on other behavior changes that will have a dramatic impact on your weight loss.
I’m not going to get into detail on this because I’ve written a short ebook on the not-so-obvious ways you’re sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Mostly it's around sleeping, your macronutrient intake and a few other things you can tweak to feel less hungry and more balanced.
So whatever you do - please don’t swear to be perfect on January 1st in an effort to lose weight by an arbitrarily set date. That’s the kind of misguided intention that fills up the gyms in January, only to be ghost towns by March. Don’t do that to yourself, not only because you’ll be miserable throughout the process, but also because every time you set yourself up to aspire to unreasonable goals (and then fail), you chip away at your own sense of self-worth.
Want to improve your sense of self-worth? Set small, reasonable, doable, heck dare I say FUN goals, and then crush them. Watch how doing so improves your confidence and accelerates your momentum to grow.
It starts with a very small seed of intention, but with consistent efforts will snowball into something amazing - as long as you can keep perfection out of the way.
Good luck and happy new year!
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.