With obesity rates rising and increased focus on healthy lifestyles, lots of folks are looking to lose weight and searching for that ONE diet that will work for them. The truth is, there are lots of good weight loss/management plans out there. However, weight loss, like any other goal, requires some planning and strategy to maximize the chance of success.
Sustained loss and long term success depend on being able to adopt a new, healthier lifestyle. You have to decide that are ready to make the commitment to a new lifestyle. Ask yourself, "Am I in it for the long haul or for right now?"
Whether you have 20, 50 or 100 pounds or more to lose, set a short-term realistic and achievable goal. Short-term goals allow us to achieve milestones along the way to our ultimate goal, building motivation and self-confidence.
Lasting weight loss comes from adopting a lifestyle that supports healthy weight maintenance. In other words, you adopt a new way of living that lasts long after the "loss" part is over. Choose a plan that includes a healthy eating plan and a healthy fitness plan that can be sustained over time.
Having someone to cheer us on or hold us accountable can make a huge difference in our motivation. It's easy to talk ourselves out of hitting the gym but it's a lot harder when we have a workout buddy waiting for us. It's easy to ignore that ginormous chocolate chip cookie when someone is giving us a high five for being strong. A support system will carry you through when your motivation wanes.
Study after study has borne out the fact that that when we write things down, we are more likely to stay on track. Get a journal, a notebook, do it on your smartphone...just write it down somewhere. Keeping track of what you eat, your workout, how you’re feeling or how your day went makes it real and reinforces the behaviors you are adopting. Writing it down keeps you focused and keeps you accountable. You can also look back and see where the journey has taken you, what’s working and what might need to be adjusted.
With a strategy, you will have a clear vision of where you're headed and the steps to getting there. Granted, the amount of information out there is staggering. Some of it is good, some not so much. It can be overwhelming. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask friends who have been successful. Ask your doctor. Make an appointment with a nutritionist. Gather information and then make the plan that works for you. Taking time to plan now can yield huge benefits that can last you a healthy lifetime.
Right about now, there’s a pile of 2015 New Year’s resolutions that have been unfulfilled, abandoned or simply forgotten. Most people start out with great intentions, highly motivated and ready to take on the challenge. Somewhere along the way, though, intention is diminished and motivation wanes. But what happens when you still want to achieve the goal? What can you do to get back on track? Or can you?
End of summer is a busy time of year. Families are trying to squeeze in last minute vacations. Parents are trying to get the kids ready to go back to school. Add the regular daily responsibilities of home and work and you’ve got a recipe for stress overload. In fact, this time of year, I get more requests for help with stress management than almost any other time of year. So, I thought I’d use share with you some tips to help you get through this busy time.
A few days ago, I was walking though the gym on my way to spin class when a flyer caught my attention. It was an article on mental fitness. Being a counselor, my first thought was that the term “mental fitness” must refer to one’s emotionally stability and sense of reality. Because I work primarily with kids and families, the issue of mental decline doesn’t often come up so I didn’t immediately consider mental fitness in the broader sense. As I read the article, I learned that mental fitness is more than just emotional stability. Mental fitness actually refers to the use of intentional mental exercise to help stave off mental decline and strengthen memory, concentration and information processing. As we age, one of the greatest fears we have is losing our mental capabilities. I started thinking about the concept of fitness and the mind-body connection. I had to wonder, if we are nurturing our physical or “body” fitness, doesn’t it make sense to also nurture our mental or “mind” fitness? Is it possible to stave off mental decline?
One of the things I often hear is, “I set my goals and made my plan but I just can’t seem to stick to it. I have no willpower.” Sound familiar? Well, the fact is, willpower might not be the issue at all. Something else might be at work. Achieving a goal requires change. Change implies you doing something different. But when we decide to do something different, we also need to consider where that change is happening. When you made your goals, did you consider what’s around you? What obstacles might be in front of you? What unseen temptations might be lurking? The fact is, our environment can influence our progress as much as the action steps we take. Distractions or temptations in our environment are not always easy to see and can derail even the best laid change plans. If you’re struggling with meeting your goals, maybe it’s time to take a look at what’s around you.
Look At What's Around You
If your change plan requires you to be in a certain area, consider what is around you. Distractions and impediments lurk in the strangest places. Is your space clean? Is it stocked with the tools you need? Are there things that prevent you from doing what you need to do? Clutter can sap our energy and motivation. Trying to make good choices in a space with clutter or things that you constantly have to navigate around or not having the tools you need means you are more likely to either focus on something in that mess or find an excuse to not work in that space. The end result is you don’t actively engage in your action step because your space is not conducive. So, look at the space(s) you will be working in. Make sure your tools are front and center. Look for those things that distract and remove them, even if it means simply putting them in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
Know Your Danger Zones
We all have distractions or temptations that we know are trouble for us. These are the kinds of things that are in our world and can’t just be removed or shoved in a drawer. They are those things that we encounter everyday and we KNOW can derail us faster than anything. Yours might be the TV, the ding of a text message, the sight of your favorite fast food sign, even the dog barking. Whatever your danger zone is, finding a way to minimize its influence can help you to stay focused. This might mean scheduling around it (setting your cell phone on silent for a period of time), avoiding it altogether (take a route that doesn’t pass your favorite fast food place) or enlisting the support of others (ask someone to walk the dog). This one may require some creative planning but avoiding or minimizing your exposure means you are less likely to have to rely on willpower alone and hope you can white-knuckle it through.
Limit Time-Consuming Activities
Some activities are necessary but can quickly become time wasters. We all have them. Think about how often you go to answer a quick email and end up spending hours on the internet. Schedule a time into your day for things like checking email, returning phone calls, watching TV or whatever those activities are for you that can go from a few minutes to hours before you know it. And while we are on the topic of scheduling…
Schedule The Important Stuff
We often hear that willpower is what we need to achieve a goal. The fact is, willpower waxes and wanes. Change actually requires consistency. And what we know is that consistency is much more likely to produce results that relying solely on willpower. Putting your action steps into your schedule is a proven way to increase the chances that you will complete them. Scheduling makes them a priority and builds in accountability. For example, if working out is part of your change plan, put your workout into your appointment calendar. You are much more likely to do it if it is scheduled into your day. Leave it out and it quickly becomes “out of sight, out of mind.”
Send Out An SOS
If what you’re doing isn’t working, consider getting a second opinion. Sometimes, we are too close to a situation to seen it objectively. If you are finding yourself struggling with your plan because of distractions or temptations, ask a trusted friend to take a look. Sometimes an objective look can uncover time wasters and saboteurs that we didn’t even know were there. Be willing to consider the feedback and don’t be afraid to change your plan if you need to.
We are creatures of habit. We are capable of great change but sometimes success means not only changing our behavior but also change outside of ourselves. Managing our surroundings is sometimes all we need to take it to the next level. Don't be afraid to add some environment management to your action plan. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
It's back to school time! For a lot of parents I talk to, these words are music to their ears. While summer is fun and gives them a chance to spend extra time with their kids, it is also a challenge to keep kids entertained and engaged. It can be exhausting! But for kids, the idea of back to school or for some, school for the first time, can be stressful. A new school, new teachers, new kids and maybe old friends not returning can be overwhelming. Preparing kids for school and talking with them about what to expect can help to alleviate some of those uncomfortable feelings. Here is a great website I found that contains lots of great information about helping kids prepare for going back to school. I hope you find some helpful tips for your child. Here's to a great school year for all! Here's the link: