On Monday, I mentioned that a few years ago, I lost close to 30lbs over the course of about eight months and some of you asked me to share how I did that. Now, I’m not an expert on health, fitness or nutrition, and your body is not my body, so what worked for me may not work for you. But I do have a few tips that might make working out and losing weight a bit easier by reshaping how you think about your resolution/workout plan.
Tipping the Scales. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to buy a scale. It will tell you if you’re losing, at what pace you’re losing and help keep you accountable. However, don’t make an inanimate object your master. It’s a scale, it measures what you weigh, not who you are or what you’re capable of achieving with time.
Don’t weigh yourself every day. No one sees real, lasting results after a single day. Instead, weigh yourself on the same day of the week, at roughly the same time once per week. This way you can track your progress without torturing yourself. I recommend doing it in the morning, if you weigh yourself at night, you’ll weigh more.
Set Different Goals. Pounds are easy to calculate, but they don’t tell the whole story. I prefer to focus on inches, because losing inches means that you burned fat and gained muscle. A scale can’t tell the difference between muscle and fat, but a tape measurer can.
Also, think about setting fitness goals. Maybe you want to do 100 situps without stopping. Or you want to make it to yoga four times per week. Or you want to run five miles averaging a seven-minute mile. Those goals are more attainable than choosing an arbitrary number and saying, “I want to weigh 110lbs.” And I want Taylor Kitsch to join me for a lifetime of sun and surf in Fiji, but some things are just outside of our control.
Visuals Matter. When you start working out, staying motivated is key. It’s also difficult because you’re not seeing results yet. Sadly, some women fill this motivation gap with thoughts and images that may eventually backfire and cause them to feel hopeless and give up.
Go to Pinterest, and search for “Thinspo” (short for Thinspiration) and be prepared to be either mildly or completely horrified by a lot of what you see. Photos of super skinny models, body builders, women who work out for a living aka. actresses and quotes like “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” and “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
Women choose these images as a source of inspiration, but when you get discouraged, I’ve found that looking at these images can just deepen the despondency. Why? Because before you can be motivated by such an image, you must first accept that the size/shape/weight that you are is wrong and that the woman with the 24″ waist is right. And any source of “inspiration” built on a foundation of negative self-judgment will ultimately crumble, especially when not everyone woman is genetically built to look like Miranda Kerr.
Instead, focus on strength, fitness and discipline. Think about being a healthier and happier person and how working out can help you get there. Because in the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
Stay Accountable. When I lost the weight, what kept me accountable was the fact that my clothes were so tight, it physically hurt me to wear them (and the two pair of Spanx that made wearing them possible). The knowledge that I could not afford to buy a whole new wardrobe kept me going. But most of you are probably in a different boat.
This time around, I set up an app called HabitForge that helps you stay accountable. I also set up my iPhone to remind me three times per night to go work out. If I can deny my electronic drill sergeant three times, then clearly, I am either too busy or too tired to get to the gym. Especially since the last reminder says, “Is getting off the couch right now really harder than obsessing all day tomorrow about how you should have worked out last night?”
Diet. Y’all are smart. You don’t need me to tell you that a spinach salad with vinaigrette and grilled chicken is better for you than a salad with iceberg lettuce, fried chicken pieces and bleu cheese. But I will offer you one tip:
If you’ve already eaten and you’re not physically hungry, but you find yourself in the kitchen rummaging through cabinets, ask yourself, “Why am I eating?” If you’re bored, grab a water and find something to occupy your mind. I recommend crossword puzzles and cleaning. If you’re emotional, grab an apple or some carrots and then, sit down and write out what you’re feeling. I like to write emails expressing my emotions, and then delete them. Or sometimes, save them in draft in case what I’ve written might need to be shared with somebody but I need to sleep on it before I hit send.
It’s easy to make a resolution, it’s harder to keep it. The best thing you can hope for is steady progress, and to keep your focus there, you need to be at least as interested in the journey as you are in the results. If you have tips to share, leave them in the comments. Good luck with your resolutions.