In my opinion, the biggest zap to ones motivation—where fitness is concerned—is the belief that doing”xyz” will get you to that perfect body you’ve always wanted. That said, whether “xyz” is taking a diet pill, starving yourself, or working out like a maniac, once you’ve placed an expectation in your head, you’re liable to get discouraged if it’s not met in the time frame you’ve set forth—and that “time frame” is typically something extremely untenable (depending on your starting point), in the first place.
I once had a conversation with a woman who was roughly 60 pounds overweight. She’d made up her mind that she was going to drop all 60 of those pounds, cultivate an hourglass figure, and be able to fit comfortably into a size 12 (she was a size 22 or 24 at this time), before her wedding…60-days from the time she was beginning her journey.
Her method was going to be “simple”: she bought a really expensive detox system from a nutritional store, purchased a waist trainer, and was going to start walking 2-3 times a week, and…get this…she wasn’t going to change her diet one bit. She still planned to eat whatever she wanted because the detox system she bought was going to “take out all the bad stuff anyway”.
Can I show you an image of my face when she made that last statement?
Yeah…I needed several minutes of reflection after that conversation. Trust.
Now, if you have any sort of education on the way the body works, then you already know this particular individual was living in a fools paradise if she thought any of what she was thinking of doing was possible—it’s not. First of all, the 60 pounds in 60 days was nonsense—that’s basically a pound a day. No way was she going to be able to do that while eating exactly the same!
Then there was the waist training nonsense which…honestly…I’d rather not even entertain. And then there was the 2 to 3 days a week of “walking”. While I would never discount walking as a great way to lose weight, I had a feeling her version resembled more of a snail’s pace, through the mall, with frequent stoppages…hardly enough to break a sweat.
Needless to say, after an initial loss of about 5-pounds (which I assume was mostly water and old waste brought out by the detox system), this woman was not only roughly the same size, she actually gained a few more. And, the kicker, she was actually mad that her “dedication” didn’t work!
Again…I…look, the way to health is never via half-ass mode. In fact, the rules are quite simple—even if their execution proves tough:
1. Eat right: Dump the fast and processed foods in favor of more fruits and veggies. Eat more balanced meals and lower your overall intake of bad carbs, sodium, fat, and sugar.
2. Exercise regularly: At least every other day (about 4 times a week), for 30-60 minutes, at a moderate to high level of intensity.
3. Don’t look for quick fixes: There aren’t any. Period
4. Understand it’s a process: The most aggressive, and safe, weight loss is 2-pounds a week. If you’re losing more than that, unsupervised, you’re not only doing it wrong, but you’re likely losing muscle mass in the process and could be jeopardizing your overall health!
5. Stay dedicated: If you aren’t in it for the long haul, regression will occur. If you are in it for the long haul, regression can occur. See rule No. 4.
Bottom line: be realistic about your expectations, and set small goals along the way so that you don’t get discouraged. And, instead of making those goals about the scale, make them about your focus: for example, instead of saying, I want to lose 2 lbs. this week, say “I’m going to workout ___ days this week”, or if you train with a Heart Rate Monitor, set a goal for calories attained within a certain time frame. Challenge yourself to stay committed and be consistent and let your body reward you for your efforts.
Remember, be S.M.A.R.T about setting goals: Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.