A fat loss journey is simply that, a journey. While we like to envision waking up one morning with that dream body we've been working for, the reality is that being fit and healthy is a long(gggggg) process. It's human nature to want things right away – especially in our microwave society where everything is fast and convenient – and get overwhelmed in frustration (or give up) when it doesn't happen. In order to have long-term success, you have to get your thoughts locked into a positive place, relax, and trust the process.
So what are some things that you can do to make sure you'll stick to your new routine, create new habits, and not lose the optimism that you will achieve everything you set out to?
View it as a way of life
You know those people who always say “I can’t, I’m on a diet.” Don't be one of them. As the annoying, and overused cliche reminds us: this isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Many diets and restrictive plans attempt to hide behind the “lifestyle” persona – so allow me to add that if you can't do it for life, then it's not a lifestyle. Learn to tell the difference between diets pretending to be something that they're not, and small changes that slowly add up to a changed life.
Diets subtract, lifestyles add. Diets remove things from your life (often the things that you love the most), leaving you feeling deprived and hopeless. Lifestyles constantly introduce new options – giving you renewed hope that your goals are not only obtainable, but maintainable. You can (and should) allow yourself most things, in moderation, at appropriate times. Diets end, lifestyles do not. Making better food choices is something that will make you look and feel better for years to come. Find a way of eating that allows you to enjoy this process, while not feeling completely foreign to you.
Celebrate small changes
Don't downplay, or overlook allllllllll the little changes that will ultimately compound into the change that you're looking for. Are you able to lift heavier than this time last month? Hit your macros for three weeks straight? Feeling more energy than you have in years? Hair/nails growing back? More…regular than you've ever been? Look at every scale and NON scale victory as a sign that you are headed in the right direction. Success in your journey is the accumulation of EVERYTHING that happens along the way, so don't get sidetracked when it seems like “nothing” is happening.
Have 50 pounds to lose? Celebrate small milestones, even if it's only losing a half pound/inch.
And while we're at it…
Try to remove words like “only” (or phrases like “I'm not really expecting any changes…” grrrr) from your journey vocab, especially when used in the negative. If you lose “only” an inch one month, keep a progress-minded mentality and remind yourself that clothing sizes are based on those same inches (or cm, etc). In the US: There’s typically only a ONE inch difference between most clothing sizes from 0-10, and around two inches difference between sizes 12-24. So “only” an inch this month, could become THREE sizes smaller if you kept at the exact same rate of progress, for only eight more weeks. THAT’s the power of consistency in mind, food, and workout. Ditch the scale mentality, and celebrate your inches!
The journey to losing 100 pounds starts with a single pound, and finally being able to fit into your smaller size jeans again begins with the first .25 inch. If you only focus on the big picture, you are likely to get discouraged and lose sight of what's actually happening.
Realize you are human
Mistakes will happen. Even the top fitness experts and pros in the world slip up sometimes (yes! even your fave fitspos who claim they don't… “cheat“), because they are human too! Falling off track with a meal or skipping a workout or two doesn’t mean that you're a failure. It is simply inevitable. Life happens, willpower runs out. For everyone. Period.
If you allow yourself to stay stuck in a black or white world, where each day falls only under “perfect” or “oh well…ruined” – you're not going to get very far. Paying close enough attention will reveal a wonderful gray area, otherwise known as “80% of your life.” Don't be afraid to accept and choose to purposely live in the gray. It can be scary in the beginning – but the sooner that you accept where you really live, the sooner you can truly make your house a home.
Don't waste an entire week, chasing ONE perfect day. Don't allow ONE imperfect meal, to ruin what could otherwise consistent day/week/month/year. Learn from it and move on. Don’t dwell on the past.
I repeat: Get back on track (at the very next opportunity!) and. move. on.
Reframe the bigger picture
While most people exercise with a physique or weight-related goal in mind, there is much more to being healthy than meets the eye. Consider reframing the way that you're looking at your journey, and focus on behavior, or fitness-based goals, rather than simply “waiting to look better.” The time is going to pass anyway, so why not look deeper into the actual behavior and fitness based habits that WILL get you to where you want to be. Focusing on those goals can be much more time bound, predictable, and practical than daily scale woes, constant body shaming, and putting a deadline on physique progress (which is none of the above).
Think of all the good nutrients you give your body when eating healthy. Dwell on the lifelong benefit to your muscles, joints and metabolism when you lift. Looking great is just a bonus when you think about all the ways you're improving your actual quality of life.
If you were driving a car and a tire went flat, what would you do? Most people would fix or change the tire, not slash the other three. Just because a part of your journey seems questionable (plateaus, slip ups, etc.) doesn’t mean you throw in the towel. Persistence pays off! Believe in what you're doing and repeatedly remind yourself why you set off on your journey in the first place.
Set the GPS. Expect the occasional wrong turn, pit stop, traffic jam, and re-routing. But allow yourself to relax into the journey, as much as possible, knowing that you WILL ultimately get to your destination (or at least in the vicinity if your GPS is old school! LOL).
Trust the process, Fam.