It seems like we're all in a rush, especially when it comes to weight-loss. We've got this mindset of, "Let's see how much weight I can lose in the shortest amount of time." Is it really fair to expect this of ourselves when, in most cases, we didn't put the weight on in a short amount of time? When people find out that I have lost 40 pounds, the first thing they ask me is, "How long did it take for you to lose the weight?" I always find this question interesting because I wonder if it will make a difference for them how I answer the question. If I said it took me 10 years, would those inquiring change their mind about the importance for them to adopt a healthy lifestyle? Would it make me less credible? I really don't know.
What I do know is that we are focusing on the wrong thing. My INNER SKINNY CHICK says: Instead of stressing over how long it is taking you to LOSE weight, why not focus on how LONG you are going to keep the weight OFF. If this is our mindset from day one, I think that most of us would have a whole different approach to our weight-loss. Instead of trying the latest fad that promises quick results with minimal effort, we would try a plan that makes sense for us in everyday living and incorporates flexibility for our ever-changing lives. I think (and this is just my opinion) that the reason why most of us don't adopt this mindset is because it implies that we will be making a commitment to live healthy for an extended period of time, maybe even for life. This concept may seem daunting for the vast majority of us. How can we possibly go from "couch potato" to "health nut?" Well, I will tell you that if you go into it expecting for this transformation to happen over night, you will just be shooting yourself in the foot. Change--real life-change--takes TIME. If you are looking to lose weight and keep it off, time is going to be your best friend.
I know this is probably not what you want to hear. Hey, I didn't want to hear it either when I first started out. But, in order to make changes that stick, time is definitely on your side. So, how do we go about this time-consuming change? Well, I'm so glad you asked. My INNER SKINNY CHICK says: Setting manageable goals throughout your journey will get you one step closer to a total lifestyle change. Ah, yes; GOAL-SETTING. This is probably the most powerful skill that you can learn. I will share with you the 3 things that I consider when setting goals for myself. These are characteristics for effective goals no matter what area of life you wish to use them.
1. Make sure your goals are SIMPLE.
Simplicity is the key. The smaller the goal the better. Small goals are more attainable and are things that you can actually do or achieve. Have you ever made a New Year's resolution? How many times did you actually keep it? More often then not, these resolutions are broken, sometimes even before the end of January. This is typically due to the grand nature of the goal. It's so HUGE that you can't possibly keep it. Stack the deck in your favor. Set yourself up to succeed. A goal met is a WIN no matter how small it is. The small things add up over time to true life-change.
2. Keep your goals SPECIFIC.
It's nice to say that you want to run or walk. But, how far? How long? How often? Answering these questions will make your goal more specific, therefore measurable. How will we know if we have actually met our goal if there are no specifics? It's a lot easier to know if I've met my goal if I say, "I want to walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes" then if I just say, "I want to walk."
3. Be REALISTIC.
Going back to our goal of walking, do you think it's realistic for me to set a goal to walk 5 miles if I have never even walked 1 mile? Probably not. If we set goals that are unrealistic for ourselves, we may not be able to meet them and this will do nothing but discourage us. When you are setting goals ask yourself this question, "Is this doable for me?" It's so important to add the "for me" part. The goal may be doable, but for someone else. What good will that do you? It must be realistic and doable for YOU.
So there you have it. SIMPLE, SPECIFIC and REALISTIC. If your goals have these characteristics, you're on your way to behavioral changes with staying power. Again, I want to reiterate, this will take TIME. But, what happens when you set a goal and achieve it? Most of us feel excited, proud and empowered to go further. You may even set another goal. Before you know it, you will notice a change in yourself and you'll wonder, "Hey, when did that happen?"