Your Guide to successful and permanent fat loss. Part 2
A roadmap to unlocking your body’s potential
By Jeff Daubney and Dana Notte
In Part 1, we highlighted three common mistakes people make when they embark on a weight loss plan. Here in Part 2, we have added three more common mistakes and some simple strategies to help you avoid them.
It could be argued that a person’s support network is one of the most important factors in determining whether he or she reaches their fat loss goals. When a person decides to truly embrace a lifestyle change and decides to regain their health, that choice is 100 percent about themselves. This can be a totally new experience for a lot of people, most people are self-less and give themselves to their family and their work, their faith or community, before they ever have a thought about what they really want for themselves. People who are care-givers by trade tend to fall into this category. Teachers, nurses and counselors tend to be focused on how to help others but often times put their own health on the back-burner as a result.
Once a person "turns that corner" and decides they have had enough of being burdened by excess fat, the next step is crucial, essential and imperative for success. You MUST establish a new support network for the task at hand. While family and friends are there for support in other areas, they have already proven to be an unsuccessful support network for fat loss. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Knowing this little fact is one of the keys to opening the door to fat loss — your family and friends are no longer your "go to" people for this journey. I also think it goes without saying that this journey is a long hard road when traveled alone. Therefore the establishment of a new support team is going to make this process much easier.
There are lots of ways to go about this and some ways work better than others for different people. The easiest way is to pay someone, when you pay a trainer, coach or dietician they instantly join your team. After all, professional athletes have coaches because coaches are the people with the plan. If you haven’t found a "plan" that works for you, it probably stands to reason that you haven’t looked in the right place yet. A trainer with a history of helping clients lose weight is going to formulate a plan specific to your needs and the same can be said for a dietician... Furthermore a trainer or dietician’s success is directly tied to your success giving him/her, a vested interest in your journey.
Another easy way is to join a group fitness class at your local gym. A large percentage of people take classes just for this reason, it’s an easy way to meet people with similar goals. Nutri-system, Weight Watchers and any other group that holds meetings about weight loss will include people looking for the same things you are. It’s a rare occurrence when you see a surgeon and a gas station attendant spending time together, because they aren’t going to have much in common. That is why aligning yourself with people who understand what your goals are, is so important. Your support network has to understand what you’re going through in order to help you. Your spouse coming home with a pizza and ice cream because "he or she knows you had a bad day" is not helping.
Mistake #5 --- Eating foods you don’t like
You don’t like tofu. Ok, don’t eat tofu. It’s just that simple. In this day and age we can get food from around the globe on a daily basis and there is no reason to eat anything you don’t like. Now let me step back and address the adults who still eat like children. If you come to me and say, " I only eat pizza and French fries and I only drink Mountain Dew," I actually have answers for you too (once I’m done laughing). All foods have a substitute that, in good time can become your food of choice. Subbing seltzer water with juice will get the Mountain Dew drinker the same bubbly, citrus flavored beverage without tons of sugar and caffeine. Sweet potato fries make a great replacement for French fries without all the heart clogging oils and salt. A nice thin crust pizza with a little parmesan cheese mushrooms and onions will be about half the calories of a traditional cheese pizza from Pizza Hut.
Seriously, though, no diet should include foods you don’t like; it’s a recipe for failure. Imagine how long a restaurant would last if they served food people didn’t like. The same can be said for a diet plan. While some trial and error has to occur, finding an eating plan that works for each individual is a completely doable project.
The first step is meeting or hiring someone who knows how to make healthy food that tastes good. An awesome place to start is at your local farm to fork style restaurant. They have already perfected making healthy food taste good so it make sense to start here. Take a dish that you like and ask the server how it’s made. Go home and make it for yourself. It may take a couple tries but you will get it right.
Another great place to start is at your local natural food store. Often times they run cooking demo’s and classes right from the store. I know my local Whole Foods in Salt Lake City ran weekly cooking classes based on organic and natural cuisine. I have also seen classes advertised in Montpelier at the Hunger Mountain Food Co-op offering the same type of lessons. There are also a multitude of online resources when it comes to healthy cooking. WHfoods.com is one such resource.
If you feel like you have to live on rice cakes and wheat grass to lose fat, you’re probably not on the right diet (unless you like rice cakes and wheat grass). This is another reason why an individualized approach is the only path to sustained fat loss.
Mistake #6 --- Not setting SMART goals
You’ve done it! You’ve made the decision to lose weight and get healthy. You can probably even picture the new you – what you’ll look like in a year from now and how great you are going to feel. That’s great! It is important to have a long-term goal to shoot for when you are embarking on any journey. However, it is also important that you hang on to all that motivation and excitement you are feeling as you set out.
Right now you might not be anticipating the challenges you are bound to face along the way and that’s okay. It’s too soon to get discouraged, but when an obstacle does pop up and get in your way, setting SMART, short-term, goals is going to be your way around it. It is your ticket to continuous motivation and encouragement.
So what exactly is a SMART goal? It is a detailed goal to help you to achieve maximum success. It literally stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited.
Specific – you want to make sure your goal is as detailed as possible. Instead of saying, "I want to eat healthier," say, "I want to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day." Or, instead of saying, "I want to lose weight," say, "I want to lose 5 pounds by New Year’s Eve." It is much easier to evaluate whether or not you have reached your goal when you are specific:
Measurable – this goes hand in hand with being specific and includes identifying measurable outcomes. These are the details that allow you to assess your progress. For example, there is no real way to measure whether or not you have in fact eaten healthier unless you identify what healthier eating means to you. You might have chosen diet soda over regular soda or whole wheat bread over white at lunch this afternoon, but is that really achieving your healthy eating goal? There is no way to know. But, by being specific and stating that you want to include 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you can measure whether or not you meet that goal on any given day. For any goal, try to include some unit of measure to help you assess whether or not it has been met.
Achievable – this is to say that you should be able to reach your goal. The last thing you want to do is to set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are too lofty. This is not to say don’t dream big. You are capable of huge achievements. But, huge achievements take time and it’s easy to get discouraged and impatient if you aren’t celebrating your smaller successes along the way. Those small goals should still be challenging and should still leave you with a feeling of accomplishment when you meet them, but they should, in fact, be goals that you can meet within a reasonable amount of time.
Realistic – this goes along with being achievable. It is important to have realistic expectations. Having realistic expectations will help you to set achievable goals. While a 30-pound weight loss might be a realistic long-term goal for you, aiming to losing 30 pounds in 30 days is generally not advisable, safe, or well-maintained. If your long-term goal is to lose 30 pounds in 6 months or a year, think about setting smaller short-term goals like to lose 1 – 2 pounds per week or 5 pounds per month. Similarly, if you’ve never run before, it is probably not realistic to set a goal to run a marathon in the near future, but you could set your sights on a 5K.
Time-limited – this is an important piece that is often omitted from the goal setting process. By placing a time limit on your goal you will be able to monitor your progress toward reaching a particular goal and ultimately know if you are able to meet that goal. If you do not meet your goal within the specified timeframe you can then go back and evaluate what you could have done differently or if the timeframe you set was in fact realistic. If you do meet your goal, then the end of this time frame acts as a springboard into your next goal.
You can set long-term and short-term SMART goals and for any program in which you are making big, lifelong changes, it’s important to have both. It’s fine to have a long-term goal to act as your final destination on this journey. However, it’s important to set several small goals to then help you get there and to help you not lose sight of that final destination. Even if your long-term goal is a significant weight loss, your short-term goals do not need to be directly weight related. For example, your final destination might be to lose 30 pounds by Aug. 1.
But the road map of short-term goals might include: eating no more than 1,500 calories per day, limiting fast food intake to 1 day per week, and walking for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week, etc. These goals will all help you reach your ultimate destination. Short-term goals will also act as small triumphs throughout your journey. It will take a long time to lose 30 pounds and that time commitment may seem daunting and far away. But if you have short-term goals to strive for and achieve every two weeks or 1 month, those achievements will help to maintain the motivation you felt when you first decided to embark on this journey.
Written by Jeff Daubney and Dana Notte. The Food and Fitness Experts are Jeff Daubney CPT/Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach of www.VTpersonaltraining.com and Dana Notte MS, RD, consulting dietician for several Vermont agencies. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.