We all want to grow whether it’s getting healthier, being more fit, losing weight, having more energy, sleeping better, saving more money, or advancing in our careers. For example, how do we set and achieve weight loss goals? First of all, it has to be measurable, specific, and not just good intentions or dreams. Start by following these steps:
- Doubts. Before even starting to plan your goals, you need to address the mind. Give your doubts a true reality check. Is the comment, “I can’t ever lose weight” really true? Change is scary. Maybe you’ve failed in the past or it’s something you’ve never tried like cooking. Maybe the comment is reframed to “I have lost weight and I can learn to cook.” I would say that for the majority of my clients, the mind is the worst enemy.
- Small. Always start small. Change is not easy and if it’s overwhelming for our already busy lives, then we won’t ever achieve our goals. “I want to lose 40 lbs.” Let’s break that down to something that isn’t so daunting. It’s OK to dream big though but take small actions.
- Break down. Get down to the very specific such as specific days and times and even duration of exercise, cooking days, or shopping days. Change the structure of your day or your habits and get rid of temptations in the house. Break it down to the cues that start you eating sugar or binging. Are those cues when you’re bored or stressed? Is it when you grab a coffee in the morning, you usually also pick up a muffin? So then, start making coffee at home. Really assess your day.
- Plan for monkey wrenches. Life seems to always get it the way. If it always runs smoothly, we would all be super stars accomplishing goals left and right. Plan for times when your plan doesn’t work. Then what? You wanted to exercise but a friend asked you out and you really want to go or a work meeting went overtime. What will you do? When there’s a plan, you are prepared. If not, then in the heat of the moment, it’s tough to create a new viable action step. It’s easy to give up. And with some of my clients, life often throws in curve balls. Here’s where we also check in with our boundaries. (That’s a whole different discussion for another time.)
- Reward. Most of us plug away making goals and punishing ourselves when we “fail,” but we often forget to celebrate too. This is the most important part. When we add a reward, the habit sticks. The more we do the habit to include a reward, the more it becomes a natural habit. The reward could be as simple as making sure there’s a smile on your face after you cook or exercise. You feel proud of yourself. You have to reinforce the gratification. The joy of exercising with a friend and how fun it was, for example. Where we get into trouble is when we beat ourselves up. We tend to aim for perfection and that’s just not attainable. So we label ourselves as failures, then the-hell-with-it attitude. Instead, anticipate setbacks. This is normal AND expected. When we punish, shame, guilt, judge, we will not be successful. It comes out sideways and backfires. We might actually end up gaining more weight, unmotivated to exercise, and feel like our goals are out of reach. Be patient with yourself.
Create new habits to break those old unwanted ones. This isn’t easy to do alone. Get support to achieve your health, fitness, and weight loss goals.
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~ Samantha Hua, Online Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA