As we close in on 2016, let’s look back at the year… how did you do? Did you accomplish your goals that you set for yourself? If you had health and fitness goals, did you achieve them? Are you where you want to be? If you are, then you can go ahead and stop reading here. But if you have not yet reached your health and fitness goals, and plan to set new goals for 2017, this article is for you! Let’s recognize, discuss, and implement the three pillars standing in your way to that beach body you’re setting out to achieve this year. These three pillars are mindset, positive thinking, and setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. Let’s dive in.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s true… MINDSET is everything.
Every “diet” and weight loss strategy has its pros and cons, but for any nutritional approach to work in the long term, you’ve gotta get your mind right. When we can control our mind, we can control our body. And shifting our mindset about achieving our goals is the most important and biggest piece of the puzzle.
Most people try to lose weight and diet in a negative state of mind; wanting to “fix” themselves. They jump onto the latest diet fads and exercise plans out of self deprecation, while each week they are pinching their “love handles,” calling themselves fat, and all together never feeling like there enough. They become so obsessed with immediate gratification, quick fixes, and fast results that they lose sight of sustainability and even their own health long-term.
They get so wrapped up on the end goal and where they want to be, that they don’t even give themselves a chance to change their mindset, set realistic and sustainable goals, create healthy habits along the way, and even enjoy the process.
I am sure you’ve heard this before (either from a friend, or in your own head)…
“When I get to my goal weight this (insert specific body image insecurity here) will be fixed.”
I’m sorry to say this and I understand it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s not going to happen that way. I rarely does. The assumption that you will finally have that ‘thigh gap’ once you get to your goal weight is almost always not true. You may get to 5-10 pounds of your goal weight and it will hit you… You will realize that your body insecurities are still there. You start to realize that the dream you once had of being happy and confident with your body image at your goal weight just isn’t going to be there when you hit that weight.
Woman see this all the time.. Even when comparing themselves to others.
“Ugh, if I could just look like her and have her body EVERYTHING would just be easier and I would be happy.”
Then you talk to that girl you want to look like, but there are things about her body she’s insecure about and wishes she could change. But you think she looks fantastic, she must be crazy to think that….
You have to make a decision. Please do not fall victim of the false belief that when you hit a magic number on the scale that you’ll finally love yourself and love your body.
“Ok Tom, this sounds wonderful and all…
But how can I do that? How can I love myself today, right now, and not just claim to be happy once I finally achieve my weight loss goals?”
Here are 4 practical tips to implement to start loving yourself today:
1. Change your perception
We all see things we don’t like about our body. If it’s something we are CHOOSING to look for, that’s what we will see.
What if it’s actually our perception and not the reality?
Read that question again. Really focus on this question… When you’re really upset about your body, you cannot be grateful for it at the same time. You can’t genuinely have both good and bad feelings about your body at the same time because they are opposite thoughts. Have you ever actually been thankful or appreciative for the body you have? Have you ever been thankful for what your body does for you (aesthetics aside)? You could keep losing weight and still not be happy, or you could just say f*ck it and gain weight, and again still not be happy. Or you can choose to take the road of gratitude and be grateful for the body you have RIGHT NOW and work on making it the STRONGEST and best version that you can.
Go look at yourself in the mirror, after reading this part. Look at yourself. I want you to find ONE THING on yourself that you are thankful for. For example:
“I am thankful for my arms today because they allow me to hug my family, my kids, my loved ones. They allow me to give and receive care and love.”
This is how we show physical affection toward others. If we didn’t have our arms, we could not do this, right? There is so much to be grateful for with having the arms you do and what it provides for you and your family.
Shift your mindset and be grateful for what you have. You have the ability to hug your loved ones, to complete daily tasks with your arms, etc. Some people aren’t as lucky. Some don’t have families or people they can share their love with. Some people may not even have capable arms to complete daily tasks with. Be grateful and love what you have been given, and from there work on being the best version of yourself.
This one’s pretty short and sweet~ JUST START. Just start moving more. Even walking an extra 30 minutes per day is a POWERFUL tool when it comes to fat loss. This is my favorite type of cardio.
3. Focus on performance based goals
Get out of the mindset that working out is meant to burn calories. If this is your main focus and where you’re looking for results, you’re in for a rude awakening because they’re not going to be there. Instead, focus on your performance in the gym. Challenge yourself! Work on constantly adding more weight to the bar in your workouts. Get STRONGER! Have a performance based goal such as:
“I want to squat 125 pounds for 5 reps by September.”
Then go out there and work for it. Every week, strive to increase the weight used to get closer to that goal. Most of my clients are females, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from them it’s that it’s REAL FREAKIN COOL when you see what your body is capable of, not just what it looks like from the outside. The confidence that lifting HEAVY ASS WEIGHT gives them is unlike anything else. It gives them strength (outside of the gym) in their day to day lives. Focusing on these quantitative measures as far as lifting more weight, something we can continually progress in is something we have CONTROL over compared to the number on the scale and the aesthetics of our body and it really can empower us in a different way. It really allows you to appreciate what YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE of doing.
4. Stop limiting yourself on foods based on past experiences. Be willing to try new things, or foods you’ve tried 10 years ago that you “dislike” a try again. I never ate my vegetables as a kid. Therefore growing up, I just assumed I didn’t like them so I never really gave them a shot. Shoot, I didn’t even actually start incorporating vegetables into my diet until I got to college. Fast forward to now, almost every single meal in my day incorporates vegetables as they are a STAPLE in my diet. Be OPEN to try new things. Get creative! Cook with new slices or sauces, try new recipes using different methods like baking or slow cooking in the crock pot. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn about yourself and the flavors and foods you enjoy now that you once thought were terrible. Find a way to enjoy the foods you’re eating. If you dislike the foods you’re eating to try to lose weight, that’s not a sustainable approach and will most likely revert back to the “comfort foods” you know you like (and look at how that was working for you). Truly ENJOYING the food you incorporate in your diet is very IMPORTANT if a healthy body composition is the goal.
Another part of mindset is your own beliefs. I believe in you, but do YOU BELIEVE IN YOU?
How powerful are our beliefs?
We know how important getting our mind in the right place is and how essential it is for our goals.
Remember the stuff about all the negative self-talk we experience on a regular basis?
Well, what you say to yourself, and what you hear over and over (either from yourself or from others) will eventually become a belief, even if that belief is not in line with reality…
Beliefs are ideas you hold to be true, and they shape your life, how you behave, and will determine your outcomes.
Beliefs are formed over time, and rarely ever happen spontaneously. They tend to start with a seedling of information. It can be from a parent, spouse, friend, or even someone you see as an authority of a particular subject/topic.
To make this easy (and relevant), let’s just look at nutrition examples.
If you’re wanting to make big changes to your diet, you’re probably seeking out information to help with that. (Who wouldn’t, right?)
Information is awesome because it gives us knowledge. Knowledge, when applied, helps us create the change we want…
But what if that information is wrong?
Here’s an example…
Some people believe deeply that calories don’t matter, and that in order to lose weight, be in shape, get ripped, [insert whatever goal], all you have to do is eat healthy food. That’s it… just eat healthy food that nourishes your body.
Now while this belief is not all bad, it’s just incorrect.
Calories do matter when it comes to weight loss and gain. Just because you eat nothing but naturally lean, farm-raised, organic animal products, they’re still full of energy. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, starches, healthy fats, etc., all contain calories.
It’s the manipulation of those calories that determine your body composition.
Now if you go on believing that calories don’t matter, and your goal is to lose 20 pounds, but you continue eating an excess of these calories, you’re not going to lose any body fat.
You might be giving your body a bunch of nutrients that fuels your body, but this belief that calories don’t matter will sabotage your goal of losing 20 pounds. You can eat all the healthy foods, but if you’re consuming them in excess consistently, I hate to be the one to break it to ya, but you will gain weight, despite eating “clean.”
We can take this to the very negative side, too.
Let’s say you’ve heard carbs are poisonous to your health. Carbs make you fat. If you believe this fully — to the point of removing all carbs from your diet — you’re likely in for a rude awakening.
Contrary to what some will tell you, carbohydrates are essential for optimal health. They’re technically not a necessary nutrient (because your body can make glucose from protein), but I will argue it is vital to keep carbohydrates in your diet because turning your muscle (and protein you eat) into glucose for your brain and body to use for energy is a costly (and stressful) process for the body.
Removing carbs completely can also cause a down-regulation in thyroid hormone, which can wreak havoc on your metabolism and other hormones that help with keeping you healthy and your body functioning optimally.
The more you hear carbs are bad, the more you tell yourself to abstain from them, the more you reinforce that belief. So not only are you affected by what you’ve heard, read, or learned, you’re also affected by what you repeat to yourself internally through self-talk… such as “bread will not help me lose fat because I heard it spikes insulin.” or “I read that sugar is stored immediately as fat, so I can’t eat fruit anymore.” So you go on with your life restricting your favorite foods, cutting out carbs, and feeling pretty miserable. Because you believe that if you want to lose weight, you can’t have both carbs and fat loss.
(The bread and fruit talk above about insulin and sugar being stored as fat is not true, FYI)
But do you see how powerfully detrimental these false beliefs can be?
And just think… they may have started out as simply looking for some good information to help you lose 20 pounds. Which turned into you eliminating a whole macronutrient food group from your diet. Yikes.
Beliefs are formed over time, and it starts with the seed of information. Beliefs are powerful, so it’s important that we focus on the information we’re getting, and whether or not it’s truly serving us and our goals.
Another thing is the power of fixed/growth mindsets and how our brains can help us succeed.
Believe it or not (see what I did there?), the old saying “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” has a TON of power.
Building good belief systems starts with monitoring what you feed your mind through external sources (what you read/listen to), and what you tell yourself (self-talk).
This is why things like meditation can be so powerful. It’s a complete mind shift. Ask yourself… What ways in your life can you shift your mindset to this more positively?
As we practice shifting our mindset, step one will be to start thinking differently.
There will come times where you are stuck in certain situations that you can only control so much, with other parts completely out of your control. It’s important to understand that it’s not the certain situations you are in that may cause problems with your progress, but rather how you respond to them.
This is about being honest with yourself, realizing and accepting the situation you’re in, and how to make a positive out of every situation because at the end of the day, it’s how you respond that will make or break your progress along the way.
So let’s say you forgot your lunch at home. You are in a work meeting and left hungry. They catered in Subway subs, chips, and cookies. You’re hungry, and everyone else is eating that food. You won’t be eating anything until after work for another 4 hours or so. What do you do?
Right now I want you to envision every slip, bump, and challenge as an opportunity.
First off, don’t beat yourself up over it. Things happen. And ONE MEAL will not make or break your progress so far. It’s important to not start the “negative self-talk” many like to have with themselves when things come up…
“Ugh, how did I forget my lunch?”
“Now I’m screwed.”
“I am eating these chips & cookies, the day is ruined.”
“I can’t do this.”
Remember, that in any situation that revolves around food, you are in control of the outcome. No one is holding a gun to your head and telling you to eat this. You control the distance between your hand and your mouth, and what you choose to feed yourself. Maybe you go with just the sub, chips, and skip the cookie. Maybe you have two of the single serving sliced subs and skip the chips and cookies all together. Maybe you have the sub, chips, and cookie, but decide to go for a 30 minute walk after dinner. There is always a positive in any situation you find yourself stuck in, you just have to find it, then actually take action and do it.
So how do we start making ourselves think differently about situations and turn them into positives?
How do we shift our mindset to work with us, and not against us?
Pretend that you are counseling a very close friend or relative… They have just taken those very first small steps to try to improve their attitude, health, and lifestyle. Whatever you would tell them for encouragement, I want you to tell yourself.
Learning to treat yourself with as much love and respect as you’d treat your friends and family is crucial for long term success. Why wouldn’t you deserve those same considerations?
I received this next piece of advice from reading the book “The Diet Fix” by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. Every time you hear your voice in the self hate rabbit hole, or getting into the shaming and blaming thoughts, I want you to use that recognition and awareness to simple ask yourself these two questions:
1. What can I do right now that I can be proud of?
2. What can I do right now that will help a little bit?
You can use these questions in just about any circumstance or situation. If you are unhappy with yourself or how you are reacting to a certain situation, take a step back to think about how you can answer these questions.
You can take a step back and ask yourself these questions in scenarios like:
-Stuck in traffic
-In an argument with a friend or spouse
-Feeling sick or ill
The bottom line is that the situation has stayed the same. But they way that you shift your mind to interpret and react to it has changed.
So next time you are in a stressful situation ask yourself these two questions…
1. What can I do right now that I can be proud of?
2. What can I do right now that will help a little bit?
It’s difficult to build momentum off of negativity. But pride on the other hand, pride is powerful. You’re breaking free of the mainstream media’s diet dogma by investing in my program (right?), and that right there is something to be proud of 🙂
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Let’s look at how you can set some truly useful goals for the New Year. There are going to be days, weeks, and even months when life’s struggles get in the way of your best intentions. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself. Here are some straightforward tips and techniques to troubleshoot struggle. Practicing them when the going is good, will make it easier to implement them when the going gets tough. Remember, changes, even straightforward and simple changes can be difficult to remember to do. These techniques are designed for you to remember a way of living that your life will not inherently remember you to do, but in time will become a healthy habit you have created of yourself.
When you sit down to write out your goal, make it detailed, make it specific, and always make it personal. Start off using the word “I….”
Another tip I got from Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s book, is to ensure you write this in present tense. So instead of starting your goal off with “I will…” start with “I always…”.
“I always have protein with my meals and snacks.”
“I always drink a glass of water before each meal.”
“I always take a walk when I get home from work.”
“I always have my food prepared ahead of time.”
Set a better weight goal.
Most of us who set out on our health and fitness journey have an “ideal weight” we strive for. We have this unattainable vision in our head that “when I weigh [insert goal weight] I’ll be happy.” But in reality, a specific number on the scale is a lousy goal to have. So I’m here to help you set better ones. When it comes to a happy and healthy body composition, there are two main goals we should strive to make a priority. The first is to eat the minimum amount of calories you can to enjoy your life without feeling restricted, and the second is to find the best way that works for you and your schedule to fit in your workouts regularly. Notice there is pleasure associated with both goals. Sure, you may be able to tolerate less food and more exercise, but a life that’s barely tolerable is not likely to be a lifestyle that you’re going to want to sustain. The simple fact is there comes a point where you truly shouldn’t eat less because if you did it would leave you feeling hungry, restricted, and like you’re sacrificing the good things in life just to to weigh 5% less. All of which is not the goal here for long term health, sustainably, and a good relationship with food.
Similarly, there comes a time where you shouldn’t exercise more. A few examples of this is you may run out of time for other important things like cooking a healthy fat loss friendly dinner, or not have the energy to prepare your lunch for tomorrow once you’re finished with dinner. Some even go so far with exercise slaving away at the gym for hours every day that they just end up hating it, then quit. As far as living a long term healthy lifestyle, rather than a short term diet goes, if you can’t happily eat less, you are not going to eat less. And if you can’t happily exercise more, you aren’t going to exercise more. This is why your goal is to live the healthiest life you can enjoy, not the healthiest life you can tolerate. And whatever weight you reach when you are living that enjoying life, that’s what I would refer to as your “best weight.” Not some random number on the scale.
When you get a credit card statement that is higher than you’d like, do you just “wish it” lower next month? Or might you try to adjust your spending accordingly? The credit card statement total, is the consequence of your spending, which is the cause of your high bill. If you’d like to change next month’s visa total, then you will have to tackle next month’s spending.
Your weight isn’t any different. Your weight is the consequence of many factors. While there are many causes that are beyond your control, like genetics, stress, job requirements, etc. there are many weight contributors that are modifiable. Therefore, instead of setting specific number weight goals, it’s better to set goals based on what’s modifiable.
One of the primary reasons for goal setting is for you to be proud of yourself. Pride, can be a very powerful positive emotion. It is much easier to move forward with behavior change if you’re proud of yourself than if you always beat yourself up. Ensuring you have realistic and achievable goals is the best way to ensure practicing positive emotion.
How to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal:
Setting achievable goals is a very important factor in your journey to a healthy weight and fitness level that you can maintain for the long run.
So what is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?
This is a goal you set for yourself that is:
Put another way, you need to choose goals that are achievable in a timely manner, and measurable in terms of success.
For example, “exercising more” would be considered an un-S.M.A.R.T. goal.
It’s not specific, or measurable.
But a goal of “going for a 15 minute walk after dinner during the weekdays” would be a SMART goal.
It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.
The more specific you can make the goal, the better. With that said, also make sure your goal has the “HOW” in it.
For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, HOW are you going to do that?
“I will put together I grocery list of the specific foods that will help me reach my goal.”
“When I am grocery shopping, I will look closer at the food labels to choose the right foods to support my goal.
“On Sunday’s, I will block out 2 hours to Donny grocery shopping and food prep so I am set up for a successful week ahead.”
“I am going to eat protein with every meal and snack to minimize hunger.”
If you’re going to set a goal, don’t forget the specifics and the “how’s.” Also, keep it a simple goal. The more complicated the goal, the harder it will be to gather all of the “how’s” to accomplish it.
Once you have a list of your SMART goals that you would like to focus on (start with 1-3 goals, but no more than 3 per week) create a place to keep track of them. Every week, or perhaps everyday, pull them out in the morning to start your day to keep them fresh in your mind and think of the “how” you will accomplish this/these goals today.
So let’s put this into practice…
This week, start with ONE GOAL you want to accomplish.
This could be something you want to get better at, want to be more consistent with, or a whole new thing you want to start implementing.
This could be ANYTHING that is going to move you FORWARD and challenge yourself to a better and happier version of you!
A few examples of options for a goal to set for this week…
-Get all my workouts in this week
-Have a protein source with every meal
-Plan my meals ahead of time so I’m set up for success!
-Sit down, be present, and enjoy each meal
-Pack a lunch for work
-Stick to my calorie goal every day this week
-Drink more water! Drink one glass before every meal
-Go for a walk after lunch or on my lunch break
-Go for a walk after dinner
-Get my 10,000+ steps in EVERYDAY this week
-Get to bed earlier, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night
Just to name a few. Yours can be one of these, or can be something similar, or totally different. I want to hear it!
*Your HOMEWORK for this week:
Write down your goal. Make sure it is somewhere that is VISIBLE to you EVERYDAY this week.
Whether that be on your refrigerator, on your work desk, on your car dash, or better yet take a photo of it and save it as the screw saver on your phone or computer… Anywhere that you will see it multiple times per day to help remind you.
What is the ONE GOAL you wish to accomplish this week?
I want to hear it. Send me a personal message via Facebook with your goal(s) you want to accomplish this week, so I can help keep you accountable to them and support, motivate, and inspire you along the way!
Creating Healthy Habits
Mindset. Consistency. And Habits. These three pillars are what will lead you to success and long-term results.
Even when things get tough, or you just don’t feel like doing the work, “DO IT ANYWAY.”
If you only make the right choices when you are motivated and feel good, your results (or lack there of) will show. We aren’t going to always feel like doing the right things for ourselves every day. Some days will be better than others. Some days we wake up ready to embrace the day, make healthy meal choices, and can’t wait to get into the gym to crush a workout! Other days we hit the snooze button, get up just to grab a bag of chips and sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day. I get it. I too feel this way at times. How do I handle it? I don’t wait to feel motivated to do something, I do what I need to do to get closer to my goals regardless of how I feel at that time. Being consistent the majority of the time is much better than being perfect every once in awhile. Stop waiting to feel motivated to do the things you want to accomplish. Do something everyday to get you closer to where you want to be.
Most of us reading this are adults. We all have responsibilities that we need to do. We have bills that need to be paid, a vehicle that needs to be filled with gas to run, a job to make money to provide for ourselves and our family, etc.
When you wake up, I’m sure there are many many days where you just don’t feel like going into work, but you DO IT ANYWAY.
What happens when you’ve been avoiding your pile of laundry to the point where you run out of clean underwear? You have to DO IT ANYWAY.
We don’t have to psych ourselves up and wait to be motivated to take a shower. We do it because we know we need to, it’s a habit, and we’re going to DO IT ANYWAY.
When you wake up and aren’t motivated to take the time to eat a healthy breakfast, but instead would rather have a bagel or pop tart because it’s convenient, DO IT ANYWAY. Eat the healthy breakfast.
My point is if you only do things when you feel motivated, let’s be honest, you’d never get anything done. You brush your teeth every morning and night (let’s hope) even when you don’t really feel all jazzed up do so, but you DO IT ANYWAY.
More often than not, motivation is fueled by results. So you can’t even get to that point until you start DOING IN ANYWAY.
This is how we build a HABIT. One thing. Just focus on one thing every day until it becomes a habit. Being consistent with that one thing will lead to results. And if you ask any of my clients they will tell you that results are ADDICTING. You will create momentum, you will create progress, you will create the version of yourself you want to be.
The key to your results is not motivation. The key to your results is your HABITS.
I don’t always feel like eating a healthy dinner- But I DO IT ANYWAY.
I don’t always feel like getting up and going to the gym- But I DO IT ANYWAY.
I don’t always feel like doing my scheduled cardio- But I DO IT ANYWAY.
I am an adult. I have responsibilities. I have priorities. I have goals. You aren’t going to accomplish much by only doing things when you feel motivated to do so. But you can accomplish anything if you stay consistent to that goal day in and day out. Choose ONE thing to help you get closer to your goals. Just do that one thing every day. Master it. Make it a habit. Once it becomes effortless, choose a new healthy habit to create for yourself. For me, I ALWAYS make sure my first meal of the day is a healthy one. One that supports my goals. Every day, no matter what. It starts my day off on the right track. It makes me feel good to know that I am nourishing my body with the fuel it needs to embrace the day. I set myself up for a good day. You bet it was hard at first. But I did it even on the days I didn’t want to. I did it on the days that the cinnamon bagel from Panera sounded soooo good. I did it on the days that I was rushed. All the days, I DID IT ANYWAY. I created the healthy habit. Now, it’s flippin’ effortless. I don’t even think twice about it.
So if you waiting until you feel like it, if you are waiting until you find this key to motivation, you are going to be waiting forever.
Stop waiting for the right time. There will never be a “right time.” The right time is now.
I hope this article helped shift your mindset, think more positively, and set some S.M.A.R.T. goals leading into the New Year. Let’s start it off with a BANG!
Thanks for reading!
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