It was pointed out to me recently that much of the advice I dole out is of the “big picture” variety. I rarely get into the specifics of how to stoke the fires of motivation, how I’ve managed to keep my head in the game while I’ve made my way along the perpetual grind that is a weight-loss journey.
What follows is just a random group of tips and tricks that I’ve found to be helpful. They may be impractical or ill-suited for your personal use, but maybe there’s something here that could help you tweak your current plan or better find your own place in your own way. I apologize in advance for the low-entertainment value, but I’m trying to build up some good karma points to apply to my next weigh-in…
- Pack a bag. I don’t know if mornings at your house are as hectic as mornings at my house, but I’ve found that packing a gym bag the night before increases the likelihood that I’ll actually make it to the gym by roughly 10,000%.
- Downsize the wardrobe. Occasionally wear pants that are borderline too-tight in the waist. That constant pressure all day will help keep your mission on the front burner. If that’s unworkable, keep a stack of too-tight pants in your closet and try them on once a week. The scale’s one way to keep track, but finally zipping up some pants that you couldn’t wear earlier is the kind of victory that can propel your progress (and motivation) in a big way.
- Don’t hide the number. I follow quite a few blogs where the writer doesn’t seem to want anyone to know their weight. Putting those numbers front and center keeps me motivated to do well each and every day. I absolutely hate posting gains and am annoyed at the very idea of busting up good streaks of losing weeks. Don’t be ashamed of a number. It’s going down anyway…
- Try something crazy. Nothing else working to keep you on track? Write a check for $100 to whatever organization you despise the most; stick it in a stamped envelope and give it to a friend to mail if you don’t reach your short-term goal. Now that’s motivating!
- Get the whole family involved. It’s hard to stay sharp if you feel like you’re rowing the boat all by yourself. Even if they’re not overweight, your family will benefit from eating healthier and being more active.
- Don’t let setbacks set you back. You had an idiot moment and had drive-thru fast food for lunch (did you have to eat it in the parking lot?). It’s nothing to be proud of, but it’s also no reason to let it wreck your entire week. Put it behind you. Better yet, use it as the impetus to get in an extra-effort workout. The pendulum swings both ways, you know.
- Exercise your “no thank you” muscle. I was in a staff meeting this week where a couple of boxes of fresh donuts were being passed around. I took a donut, just to be like everyone else. But I watched as the boxes went around the room. Several people said “no thanks” and guess what? It wasn’t a big deal. I had one bite of the pastry, and folded the rest up in my napkin. Again, nobody cared. I think we believe we’re calling unwanted attention to ourselves when we say “no thanks,” but the truth of the matter is that nobody’s really paying attention. Whether or not we have a donut just isn’t all that important.
- TV or not TV. I’ve made one rule about TV for myself. If you’re going to watch something with commercials, DVR it first. The Biggest Loser takes about 20 minutes to watch when you FF past the product placement segments, cliffhanger endings and commercials. All that extra time can be better spent exercising, laundry, blogging, working… basically doing anything else…
- Get a handle on weekends. Easier said than done, but I think this is one of the biggest problem areas people have. The first step to getting past it is the realization that it’s something that’s going to take extra planning and more of a commitment to your program. Weekends take us out of our routine and put us in more social situations where saying “no” seems to be denying ourselves our well-earned fun. I’m not saying shut yourself in during the weekends, but success means that you’ve got to make some tough choices if you want to get through the weekend unscathed.
- Find what drives you. Is it the worst photo you ever took? The best one? A picture of your children? A high school reunion that’s scheduled for next summer? That favorite pair of jeans that’s languishing in your closet? Whatever it is, keep it out where you can see it. Let it help you keep that fire inside burning hot.
- S-l-o-o-o-o-w down. The eating, that is. You’ll be amazed at how much more food it will seem as though you’re eating if you actually let the fork hit the table every once in a while. Even if you eat the same amount that you would have wolfed down, you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied.
- Understand that it’s all interconnected. When I blow off a workout, it affects my mood, my sleep, even my appetite. I’ve come to realize that this trek’s about more than just managing my diet, more than just making sure I exercise X times a week. Those things are important components, but managing it all… stress, family, work, sleep… is the key to dropping the pounds.
Most of this is the common sense stuff you already know, but just the act of writing it all down has helped me realize where I’ve started dropping the ball in some areas. It’s difficult to keep the focus on all the time, but it’s sure hard to make any serious headway when you’re flailing around without a real sense of purpose.
Good luck on keeping your game face on and here’s hoping you (and I) have a kick-ass weigh-in this week.