I have these little notebooks I’ve been keeping for years now. There’s a particular brand and color I like, I buy them in bulk online and I always have one or two of them with me. I write my monthly and yearly goals in them, most days I write what I eat and which workouts I complete. I pay special attention and make note of my hunger, energy, cravings and overall mood. I really believe that these notebooks and the goals within are one of the primary reasons I was able to transform my life and not end in failure as I have in most past weight loss attempts.
As with any change you undertake in life, changing your lifestyle and adopting fat loss behaviors requires focus and discipline. For me, focus and discipline are much easier to come by when I’m working towards specific goals. While I have definitely set specific goals based on pounds lost, the majority of my goals have had nothing to do with the scale. And before I even wrote my first goal, I got really honest with myself and answered a few tough questions so I could see where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be. Here are the questions I asked myself (and my own actual answers!)
- When people describe the type of person you are, what do you want them to say? If they were to complete the sentence “Elizabeth is _______” how would you want them to fill in the blank?
Elizabeth is energetic, positive, happy, disciplined, determined, aggressive, fit and strong. She is confident, beautiful and kind.
(I wrote that in my phone and when I was struggling or having a moment of weakness I’d remind myself that I’m creating a new me. I am energetic, positive, happy, disciplined, determined, aggressive fit and strong. I am confident, beautiful and kind.)
- How will your life be different if you achieve your fat loss goals?
I wouldn’t have to hide anymore. I wouldn’t have to isolate myself and I could start enjoying the people and things in my life. That would allow me to be happy, to pursue my passions, to have more genuine & fulfilling relationships and to go on new adventures.
- What is one thing you will need to start doing to achieve those goals?
I need to make more healthy choices than unhealthy choices. I need to stop indulging in every single desire and start to retrain my taste buds to crave natural, whole foods. I need to move more. I need to face my negative emotions head on instead of running toward my crutch – food.
- Are you willing to do it?
Without a doubt. I need to. I have spent so much energy doing things that DON’T work so if I stop wasting my energy there, it probably won’t be all that much more of an investment to do something that DOES work.
- What is there to lose?
The momentary satisfaction of enjoying whatever it is I’m craving. But I need to start realizing that those foods aren’t “off limits” and I can enjoy anything in moderation. I need to start realizing that my health goals are far more important to me than momentary indulgences.
- Who can help you reach your goals and how can they help?
Aaron (my husband) can help. I’ll ask him to not keep my trigger foods (ice cream, chocolate, cookies) in the house or, if he does, to put them out of sight. Otherwise, I need to use this as an opportunity to allow myself to see how strong I am on my own. No one is putting anything into my mouth so this is all me.
After answering those questions, I challenged myself to set one goal in each of three areas: mindset, physical and nutrition. These three areas work together and are equally important when it comes to transforming your health and your life.
Mindset: I love the Marcus Aurelius quote “Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts”. For years I told myself that I was fat and no diet ever worked for me. I told myself I had no self-control when it came to food and that I was a chronic binge eater. Well you know what? All those things were true, in large part because I had convinced myself that they were! My thoughts about me and my success along this journey have a significant impact on my results. Setting small mindset goals helped to retrain my mind. Here are a few examples:
- Every day, for the next 90 days, I will remind myself of the type of person I want to be by reading my affirmations.
- I will stop avoiding the mirror and acknowledge one thing I like about myself each day
- I will stop saying that I’m fat – in my head or aloud
- I will read one mindset book each month
Physical: There is a reason I don’t call this exercise. Exercise is not the primary focus of a fat loss lifestyle journey. Yes, movement is important and exercise will eventually become a component but I certainly didn’t start there. Starting out, my goal was simply to move more. Here are a few examples so you can see that this is not related exclusively to exercise:
- I will walk on the treadmill during one TV show each evening
- I will take my dog for a 20 minute walk three mornings each week
- I will stretch for 5 minutes daily
- I will relax my body by taking a hot bath before bed at least 3 nights each week
- I will get a massage twice each month
Nutrition: 90% of my success along my fat loss journey has come from what I put into my body. I started with small, incremental changes and as they became my new normal I added more. Nutrition is the most important component and for many, myself included, it was the most challenging. However, when you commit to small, manageable changes it becomes much easier to swallow (pun intended, gotta keep it light, right?) Here are a few examples of small goals I set when I was starting out.
- I will include protein in all my meals and snacks
- I will drink a gallon of water each day
- I will have a fat loss friendly breakfast every morning
- I will limit my consumption of processed foods to one serving daily
- I won’t snack after dinner
- I won’t keep processed foods in my house
Maybe you’re ready to start working towards answering the first set of questions. Maybe those are pretty easy for you to answer and you’re ready to start working towards some specific goals. Here’s the most important thing about making these goals work for you: you MUST keep them in front of you. It’s easy to write up goals in a moment of motivation but the real challenge comes in pushing towards them every.single.day. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that this time is different and you achieve the fat loss lifestyle goals you are setting:
- Read your goals every morning. I still read mine at the start of each day and then I set two or three micro-goals for the day.
- Keep your goals in multiple places. I have them in my notebook and stored in a note in my phone. Whenever I have downtime or I’m struggling with motivation, I’ll re-visit them.
- Be honest with yourself. Don’t pretend the goals never existed after a weekend off the rails. Acknowledge that you veered of course, shake it off and keep going.
- Share your goals with a friend. I understand this is a private journey, but having someone who believes in you and encourages you is powerful.
- Realize that the only failure is giving up. Perfection is impossible so don’t even start out thinking it’s an option. You’re going to have off days. Everyone does. Don’t waste your energy beating yourself up. Every minute is an opportunity to start fresh
The possibilities are endless and you can achieve whatever goals you’re after no matter how big or small they are. Let’s push towards our goals together!!