Losing weight is one of the most difficult things a person can do. Temptation is everywhere– from snacks in the kitchen and constant commercials for treats on TV, to the delicious scents permeating from every restaurant and fast food joint in town. Worse still, when one has been doing well on a diet and experiences a lapse, he or she tends to beat themselves up over it. That feeling of defeat, of being a loser who can’t succeed, often sends the person fleeing to a safe comfort zone, and for many that involves snacking and unhealthy food choices.
And thus the cycle continues.
Fortunately, there is a way out of it, and this month the IDEA Fitness Association published a really thoughtful, sensible article on how people can safely lose weight and do it in a way that promotes success. The article is from Greg Hottinger, MPH, RD and Michael Scholtz, MA. In it, the two men present three points for success.
#1. Choose an 80/20 Approach Instead of All-or-Nothing
That all-or-nothing mentality often creates a defeatist attitude when one slips from a diet, so the authors suggest what they call an 80/20 approach “that lets clients strive to make healthy choices 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time allows for intentional treats and missed exercise bouts and makes provisions for unintended splurges.”
This approach works when a person removes the need for perfection, when they allow themselves occasional treats as part of their weight-loss program, and when they develop a plan for what to do if they do happen to slip off their diet plan.
#2. Build a Supportive Community
People in a 12-Step Program know the value of a support network; it helps them to stay focused on their journey toward sobriety and has shown great success. While you may not be an addict, the same concept applies to weight loss. As the article states to trainers, “External support increases adherence and improves weight maintenance. With your help, your clients can build a supportive network of professionals, friends and family.”
#3. Create a Vision for Change
“Basing goals on each individual’s personality, strengths and restrictions versus established, ‘by-the-book’ exercise prescriptions and formulas is important for overweight and obese clients.”
That’s a valuable bit of info to keep in mind when planning your own personal weight loss program, whether you consider yourself obese or just in need to lose a few extra pounds. The authors suggest using the SMART technique, which is an acronym for making goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding and Time-based. Impossible goals set a person up for failure, so creating small, achievable goals that allow you to see your success can help boost self-esteem and keep you on a positive trajectory toward success.
Another tool the authors suggest, which can help one identify and set goals, is a wellness vision. This may sound a little new-agey, but it’s described as, “a written picture of how you want your future to look: how you want to live your life, what you want to do, places you want to go and how you see your relationships, career, fitness, health and other important parts of your evolving life.” When you have a strong vision, as well as a support network backing you up, it can help you effectively strategize and achieve your goal.
The above is just a brief look at what these authors suggest, but you can read the full article on the IDEA website. There is a more thorough review of this CEC-approved article for IDEA members, which are mostly comprised of trainers and fitness professionals, called “3 Thinking Shifts to Help Your Overweight Clients Get on Track,” in the online IDEA Library.