This post is written by Certified Health Coach and FFP office manager, Leah Gilbert. Make sure to check out her bio at the bottom of the page. Take it away, Leah....
Honestly, you and I both know you’re going to skip whatever “intro” information I have here and look straight to the list, so I’ll save you the scroll time and jump right in…
1. You haven’t clearly identified your true “why.”
Everyone wants to look super smokin’ in whatever outfit they choose, right? When I talk to the people I am helping as a health coach, I always ask, “Why is losing __ pounds important to you?” And often I get the answer, “I just want to look and feel better.” Great. Honestly though, who DOESN’T want that? You truly haven’t told me anything I didn’t expect to hear. What I want to know is WHY. Why do you want to look and feel better? What will that add to your life that you don’t have now? The problem with not knowing your TRUE “why” is that when things get hard, you will quit. You’ll literally ask yourself, “Why am I doing this,” you’ll answer yourself, “I literally don’t know,” and you’ll be done. Plain and simple.
Get crystal clear on your why and put it in front of your face daily.
So, back to the question “What will looking and feeling better add to your life that you don’t have now?” You have to answer this question for yourself, and here’s my number 1 tip: really dream here. Don’t just limit yourself to what you think may be possible. Take a minute and DREAM of the life that you actually want. Maybe you want to be able to play actively, and I mean actively, with your grandkids, so that they grow up remembering they had the most present, kind, fun grandparents on the planet. Maybe you want to be able to ride whatever roller coaster you want without a weight restriction. Maybe you want to start getting the best sleep of your life so that you can be fully present with your toddler who is getting older every minute and you won’t ever get that time back. I don’t know your “why,” but it’s not important that I know it. It’s important that you know it. Once you know it, get it in front of your face. Create a “dream” board for your room, put a specific picture as the background of your phone, whatever it takes to remind you why you’re on the journey in the first place!
2. You have a “problem-solving mindset.”
You open your closet, put on your favorite pants, and, oh no. They’re too snug. Enough is enough. You’re tired of how your favorite clothes are starting to fit. You’re calling that personal trainer Monday. You’re going to stop buying those chips at the store and replace them with carrots. You start going to the gym 3x a week and start dieting. You give a few weeks of really good, hard work. And you think, “Yes. This time I’m not going to stop.” Four weeks in your pants are starting to fit well again. You’ve even resisted the pizza and cake at that party and have noticed you’ve lost a few pounds (maybe you stick with it even longer and lose 15-20 pounds). This is so exciting! And then one day, you decide that one treat won’t hurt and you indulge a little, but you’ll get back into the swing of things on Monday. You’ve come so far so you deserve it, right? With a pretty decent amount of weight gone from the scale, you start to indulge a little bit more. All of a sudden it’s just so stinking hard to stick to your original plan and you find yourself thinking, “What is my problem? I did it at the beginning and I was in even worse shape than I am now! Why can’t I stay motivated?”
Adopt a “creation mindset.”
Instead of setting goals for what problem you want to solve (i.e. “I want to not be overweight anymore.”), set goals for what new reality you want to create. (i.e. “I want a BMI between 15 and 24.”) Focusing on what you want to create helps set your eyes on the goal, not the starting point. When your eyes are on the goal, no matter how far you’ve come, you still know there’s work to do! Come up with a list of things you want to create, and then find someone who can help you create them (see number 4). This way, when your eyes are on what you want to create, you won’t stop just because you’ve eliminated the problem you originally set out to solve. This will help you stay consistent through the middle ground between your starting point and your goal.
3. You’re putting the sand in the jar before the rocks.
Have you ever heard the analogy about the sand and the rocks? If not, let me fill you in—imagine you have 1 jar, 5 large rocks, and a small bag of sand. If you try putting the sand in first, there will not be enough room for all your large rocks to fit. However, if you put the rocks in first, the sand can fill up the holes between all the rocks and it all fits in perfectly (this would be better with a true visual but hopefully you follow me). It’s the same with our priorities—when you fill up your schedule with all the little things that occupy your mind and time and THEN try to squeeze your bigger priorities in, it doesn’t all fit and can be stressful trying to accommodate.
Put the rocks in first, then add sand where there’s room.
Decide on your top 3-5 priorities, put them as “rocks” in your schedule, and work everything else (the sand) around those top priorities. For example, if your top 3 priorities are family time, getting physically healthy, and maintaining your financial health, here’s what your decision-making process looks like. Someone asks you to do a favor or even just to do something fun and extracurricular. You take that request and ask, “Is this under any of my top 3 ‘rock’ categories?’” If it is, then do it. If it’s not, then ask, “Will this take away from my rocks in my life?” If not, then do it if you want. If it will, then say no. And guess what? This may be a good opportunity to evaluate the degree to which you are the “P-word”: a people pleaser. Is it bad to do things for other people? No. Should we make time in our schedules to help others? Of course. But here’s the reality—no one else is going to feed you or workout for you. Make sure you put your oxygen mask on first before assisting those around you, know what I mean? The people you see prioritizing meal planning and getting fit have just as many responsibilities and people tugging on their schedule as you do. The difference is that they have prioritized moving forward in their health as a rock in their schedule, not for when it’s convenient.
4. You’re trying to do it alone.
I am honestly not going to throw a bunch of statistics at you, but let’s be real here: we all know that starting something as difficult as a fitness journey is tough to do alone. Most people fail when they don’t have accountability. It’s just that simple. Even the most consistent, strong-willed people I know have a work out buddy.
Ask for help.
Now, I’m not necessarily talking about specifically a workout/diet buddy, although those are great! But let’s say you don’t have any friends who want to join your new lifestyle change. That’s okay! You can still have support; try being honest with the people around you about what you want to accomplish. For example, your spouse may not want to join you in your journey to a healthier body—that’s okay, it’s their choice. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it alone. Instead, try sitting down with them and expressing why (see numbers 1 and 2) you’re beginning this journey and ask for their support in helping you make healthier choices with food, prioritizing your workouts (see number 3), etc. Just because they don’t actually take the action steps with you doesn’t mean you don’t have any support. Get honest with the people supporting you and you’ll be surprised how much people want you to succeed in what you want in life! Shoot, if there’s absolutely no one in your life who will, give me a call. I’d love to assist.
Leah is a certified health coach with the Center of Obesity Prevention and Education and lives in Virginia Beach, VA. She manages the office at Forward Fitness and Performance in Chesapeake, VA. She enjoys coaching others to take back their health, spending time with her fiancée, and wearing sweat pants.
*Photo credits: Emily Lewin Photography