I'm often contacted by clients who want to lose the weight they've gained through pregnancy. They long to get back the body they had before they got pregnant or, in some cases, even a healthier one! Most of the time they have a "number" in mind. A number they want to see on the scale or a number of pounds they wish to lose. Sometimes they let me know that number right off. Sometimes I have to ask some questions, but almost all of them have a "number" they want to achieve.
While "losing the weight" or "toning up ______ (insert body part of your choice here)" is a goal that will certainly help you to achieve a healthier lifestyle, its often a longer-term goal. Meaning, the road to weight loss is more of a roller coaster than it is a set path. You're bound to have stumbling blocks, weight loss plateaus and set backs. How you address all of these will help you to achieve your long term goal, but it can often be a frustrating journey. One where you can easily give up on your goal all together, thinking you'll never achieve it.
I often try to ask my clients "why they want to lose the weight?". This doesn't always come about in one session, but usually after I've gained rapor with them and they begin to trust me. At the beginning the answers are usually, "Because my doctor said I needed to." Or "There's this great pair of shorts I've had in my closet for ages that I'm dying to get back into!" As time passes, the answers become "I want to be here for my children and set a good example for them of a healthy lifestyle." Or "I want to be healthy for my next pregnancy so I don't have so many complications."
Now we're getting somewhere!
The next question is....What does this look like? For some this is a hard question to answer. They haven't given it much thought. For others they have an answer right away..."They want to be able to complete the Thanksgiving walk their church does every year." "They want to run their first marathon." "They want to be able to walk up the stairs at work without being exhausted or having to stop."
These are the measurable, achievable goals that always make me smile and get me excited! Why?
- You know when you've achieved them! Be it a race, a walk, climbing the stairs without stopping, being able to touch your toes, complete a pull-up, push-up or sit-up. You immediately know when you've achieved this goal. And so does everyone else! The smile, joy and enthusiasm you radiate at that moment is infectious to everyone around you.
- Success begets Success! Along your journey to achieve your goal, you'll find that if you don't change certain behaviors you won't achieve your goal. Its hard to finish a marathon if you've fueled your body on french fries and diet coke! Just as its hard to complete a pull-up, push-up or sit-up if you don't train the muscles (strengthen & stretch) that you'll need to complete those moves. You'll make the positive changes in both your diet and your exercise habits as you start seeing your goal becoming more of a reality.
- A clear path to success! Physical goals tend to have a set path. Rather than the roller-coaster of losing weight, gaining some back, plateauing, etc. The steps to running your first 5K are easily measurable. First you walk, then add some running, then you're running. Increase distance slowly and strengthen/stretch the muscles you'll be depending on to get you across the finish line. You can see yourself getting closer to your goal each step along the way.
- Lots of additional achievements! As you progress along the path to your set goals, you'll find some incredible benefits along the way you didn't know you'd achieve. As you get stronger, you'll start taking on more risks and responsibilities in your personal life. If you can achieve it physically, you can achieve it mentally! Your self-esteem will grow! Things that you once thought tough, may not be so tough any more. You're more likely to face the challenge head on, than shy away from it! After all look at how much you've achieved physically! You'll empower yourself to make those same changes in your personal or prefessional life. Who knows maybe a promotion, new career or new relationship is in your future!!!
- Others will want to join in on the fun! Very rarely do people achieve a goal or finish a race with a frown. You've seen them. They're grinning from ear to ear, arms raised, maybe they're laughing or crying, family and friends are there to greet them and celebrate in their success. Maybe you've felt that excitement, that winning attitude when you've been there to cheer on a family member or friend as they achieve their goal. You understand then how contagious that excitement can be! It encourages others to set their own goals, to make healthier food and exercise choices, to start living a healthier life! And whats even more exciting than celebrating achieving your own goal?.....Celebrating achieving your goal with a group you train with who are also achieving the same goal!
So examine the "Why?" behind your weight loss goals and consider setting a physical goal. It will help you achieve your long-term weight loss goal and soo much more!!!