Do you ever wonder why some people get fantastic results from their diet and exercise programs and others can't seem to lose more than a few pounds? When you ask these people why their plan isn't working, most often they will tell you that they are struggling because of their genetics, their thyroid, their metabolism, their hormonal profile, their job or simply their age. They will switch diets, switch doctors, have more tests done, try a new exercise class and ultimately end up right where they started, this time with just a little bit more frustration in the mix.
I believe that anyone, at any age can lose weight and see the results they're after. Anyone. No matter how long they've been overweight, no matter how many diets they've tried, no matter how much they love gluten. I've helped a 58 year old woman drop six dress sizes in four months (and bring her thyroid back to optimal health in the process). I've worked with someone who was overweight for close to a decade lose 70 pounds in 6 months. So why them? What gives these people -- with menopause, stressful jobs, food addictions and a history of weight gain -- the ability to shift into a life of optimal health and vitality?
I've noticed a few principles that these people live by, principles that are unmovable and unchanging, that when followed, have lead these clients to results even they still cannot believe.
1. People who lose weight partner up: They surround themselves with people who support their lifestyle. Partners, friends, family, and co-workers can all play an important role in helping us stay the course, whatever that may be. However, in the case of exercise and nutrition, those same people can often be a detriment, triggering certain emotions or feelings of nostalgia, or inadvertently roping us into old behavioral patterns. Instead of sharing your new diet and exercise program with everyone around you, identify one or two people who "get it" and rely on those people for advice, motivation, or very specific technical knowledge. This person can be your personal trainer, or a friend who wants to try burst training with you, for example.
2. People who lose weight prepare: They think ahead of time so they don't end up in a situation where they "have to eat" bad foods. Finding yourself in a terrible hotel restaurant in the middle of nowhere can certainly be challenging when trying to stick to your nutrition plan. That said, there is always something you can eat. Even if you have to order two different dishes to get what you want, or eat some almonds and Prather Ranch beef jerky that you brought with you instead of the bagels served at breakfast. If you take a few extra moments to think, you will see that you always have options.
3. People who lose weight are after something bigger than aesthetics: They are driven less by how they look and more by how they feel. Of course it's amazing to be able to fit into a dress or pair of pants you haven't worn in over a decade, but not feeling any pain, not being short of breath, and being more active, involved, and present in your own life is the true payoff.
4. People who lose weight don't let minor setbacks take them fully off the course. Sometimes we can't train when we planned to. Sometimes we might eat the dessert that the table ordered. Sometimes we don't feel like cooking and instead get something quick that we know we isn't quite on plan. But the key is to not beat yourself up about it, because those negative feelings will only lead to one thing: defeat. Instead of letting that dessert at dinner lead to a week of eating gluten, break the cycle. Even if you've momentarily broken away from your plan, it's not the end of the world, and tomorrow will be that much more rewarding when you motivate yourself to make it better than today.
5. People who lose weight choose their indulgences wisely, allow them infrequently, and savor them. The people I work with who have seen drastic results have gotten rid of the sense of entitlement that surrounds food ("I'm an adult, so I can eat whatever I want whenever I want!") By limiting treats to once a week, these treats take on a new meaning, and immediately taste so much better. People who lose weight choose indulgences that are still on plan (full-fat ice cream, wine, or chocolate for example) so that even their once a week treat can be guilt-free.
6. People who lose weight prioritize training and think of their workouts as a doctor's appointment that they have to make. Workouts are non-negotiable, just like an important meeting or job interview. Your health must take precedence over your work. If it doesn't, you'll soon be left without either. It's impossible to operate at your full potential without feeding your body the proper fuel and giving it the exercise it needs.
7. People who lose weight rest: They take at least two days off a week from training and get to bed on time. You lose weight when you are at rest. Losing weight is a way of the body repairing. And as much as it seems to make sense that you are losing weight while lunging or squatting, your body actually needs downtime to go through the process of burning fat and creating muscle, all of which happens when you are at rest! No pain, no gain clearly doesn't work. So give yourself a break and your body will thank you.
And perhaps the most important principle of people who lose weight encompasses all of these principles. A shift happens where training is no longer a chore, and nutrition is no longer a diet. The people who lose 70 pounds in six months don't think of their exercise and nutrition programs as "something I'm doing right now" but instead as "this who I am." It truly becomes a way of life, not a "paleo" diet or an upper-body workout. These people don't feel like someone trying out a program that they will stick to until they get to a size 4. They take responsibility for their life and their health, and everything else -- from getting up to train before a stressful day to not eating gluten at that crummy hotel in the middle of nowhere -- falls into place.