Now that it’s spring, summer is just around the corner. If you haven’t done so already, you’re probably wondering – and fretting – about how you’re going to lose weight and tone up in time for the warm weather. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Just like anything else, however, weight loss takes grit, determination, hard work, and perseverance.
Some fitness pros and ‘so-called’ nutritionists will claim that a certain diet or exercise program will guarantee results within 30 days. We’ve all heard of those fad diets, right? While that may work for some people, especially those lucky ones who were blessed with a naturally high metabolism, it doesn’t work for many people and you’ll only set yourself up for failure if you try to set those goals for yourself.
A much more realistic approach to weight loss is to set SMART goals for yourself. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable (or achievable), realistic, and time-bound.
You study yourself in the mirror and you don’t like the shape of the person staring back at you. Don’t despair because you are definitely not alone. We all do this from time to time because we’re our own worst critics.
However, a desire to lose some weight and tone up isn’t a bad thing either. So, while you study your reflection, you decide that, in order to feel better about yourself and to feel better in general, you need to lose about 25 pounds. Now you need to figure out how you are going to lose the 25 pounds. What specific steps are you going to take in order to achieve this goal?
Pick up your journal and write up a plan. If you’re really stuck for ideas of how to start your weight-loss journey, consult a personal trainer. A personal trainer will be able to give you the guidance you need in order to succeed. However, if you don’t have the funds to pay a personal trainer, read books on fitness and nutrition.
Now that you’ve made a written plan and have embarked on your weight-loss journey, how are you going to measure your progress?
Many people will photo document their progress by taking before and after photos. A word of caution here: Do keep your goals in mind, but don’t let the ‘results’ dominate your thoughts. Instead, focus on the journey and celebrate each milestone you reach, however small it is. Remember that fitness is a lifelong journey. It won’t end once you reach your weight loss goals.
Other than photos, you can also keep a food diary, or download an app that counts steps you’ve taken or calories you’ve burned during a fitness class. These are great ways of measuring your progress also because they enable you to track what works and what doesn’t work for you.
You can, and should, weigh yourself at least once a week and record everything in your journal. Just be mindful not to become obsessed with the scale.
How will you know when you have attained — or achieved — your goals? What does 25 pounds lighter look like and feel like to you?
This is where photos do come in handy. You can look up past photos of yourself and compare them to how you look in the present. The scale will also give you a good indication of where you are at on your weight-loss journey.
Though, keep in mind one thing: As you will also likely be incorporating strength training in your exercise routine, the scale won’t give you a completely accurate count of your weight. That is because muscle weighs more than fat.
The best approach to your weight-loss goals is to be realistic about them. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends losing 4 to 5 pounds per month for optimal health. Granted, you can exceed that by shedding a couple of extra pounds per month without compromising your health.
Just don’t expect to lose 25 pounds in two months. Do expect that, with a nutritious diet and regular exercise, it can still take up to five months to achieve your desired results. That is actually the healthiest approach to weight loss and you will feel much better in the long run.
Now that we’re coming to the end of April, you think that it’s high time to hit the gym and start dieting because you want to don a bathing suit this coming summer and feel good in it. With the right diet and exercise regiment, you can realistically accomplish this goal within this time frame. How much weight you want to lose, though, will determine how hard you will have to work in order to achieve the desired results in time for summer.
When you begin your weight-loss journey, setting a time frame for your goals, whether it’s for an occasion or not, is important because it gives you more drive and purpose. It also keeps you organized and grounded.
Now, there are some things that you need to be aware of.
Weight loss isn’t as simple as you’d like to believe. The human body has its ‘sticky’ points. In other words, there are certain areas of the body that tend to accumulate more fat. For men, it’s primarily the stomach. For women, it’s the abdominals, thighs, and arms. Why us women carry more visceral fat? It’s because our bodies were designed to carry children. Those areas are the most frustrating because they are the hardest areas to lose and tone up.
Another thing to keep in mind: Weight loss and management is eighty percent diet and twenty percent exercise. If you’re exercising more than four times per week and are still having problems losing weight, chances are you are still consuming too much processed and sugary foods.
Regardless, you may feel at times like you’re not losing any weight, even with all the changes you’ve made to your diet. If and when you do feel this way, take a moment and have a word with yourself. Remind yourself that nothing worth pursuing comes easy. Also remind yourself that you are doing this for you, your own health, and for no one else. Tweak your diet and your exercise regiment if you have to, but don’t give up. You got this! You’re stronger and more capable than you think.