If you’re one of the majority here in the U.S., you made a resolution this year to lose weight. So then, what have you been doing about it?
Two weeks ago I sprung on you the news that summer is rapidly approaching. At that point, in fact, we were equidistant from the New Year’s behind us and the summer ahead. Since then, armed with that knowledge, what have you been doing about that New Year’s resolution?
Whether you’re trying to get down to “race weight” for the season or your goal is to rediscover your summer beach body, the time to start getting serious is now.
We live in a society where everyone expects a magic pill and instant results. But you, Higher Gear customers, are smarter than this.
You know that your weight gain didn’t all come on at once and you are realistic in your expectation that it won’t come off all at once. You know that rapid weight loss – especially from fad diets – doesn’t translate into long-term results. In fact, rapid weight loss typically involves losing muscle and water weight, messing with your metabolism and, ultimately, putting back on even more weight that you lost. So, we’re not going down that road. Instead, let’s think long term.
And you know there is no magic pill. What you learned in second grade Health class still applies:
Calories in = Calories out: No change
Calories in > Calories out: Weight Gain
Calories in < Calories out: Weight Loss
That’s it. Any eight year old can tell you the same. There’s no magic to it. It’s a cold reality that many don’t want to hear, but we Gearheads are tough. We can handle the truth; we can swallow that (lack of) pill.
But, making a change is hard. Heck, if it were easy, we all wouldn’t have these extra pounds to deal with at this time of year – right? So, where do we start?
Let’s assume that you’ve already created your SMART goal. (If you haven’t, check with your physician or fitness coach to help you determine what amount of weight loss and in what amount of time is realistic and healthy for you.) With your SMART goal in place, here are a few suggestions for you:
Create New Habits – One at a Time
Look at areas where you can change your lifestyle to improve your health – whether it’s getting more sleep, exercising more, eating more consciously or reducing stress. But don’t try to take on all areas at once.
Once you determine the areas where you can make change, chose three small goals that will have the greatest impact on your well-being and that are also doable for you. (Attempting to change something when you are not yet ready to make the necessary sacrifices is a sure fire way to set yourself up for failure.) Then, take on each goal – one at a time.
Focus on one of those small areas of change until it becomes a habit. Whether it’s making sure you eat a well-balanced breakfast before heading out the door in the morning, drinking a glass of water a day, going to bed a half hour early or working out thirty minutes a day, make it stick.
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” In my experience, I’ve learned, “Fake it until you feel it.” In the beginning, it will require extra effort because you won’t feel like doing it. Soon enough, however, you will have created a new healthy habit.
Write It Down
When someone tells me they need to lose weight, one of the first pieces of advice I give them is to keep a journal of their eating habits. A food journal should not only have the amount of food consumed, but also the time of day you’re eating, whom you were with and how you were feeling.
A food journal with these details will help you to see patterns. Are you eating too much? Is your diet too heavy in any one macronutrient (carbohydrates, fat or protein)? Are you a late-night snacker? Are you a social eater, taking in too many calories when you’re at a business dinner or a party? Keeping a log of your eating habits, even for as short of a period as a week, will help you see the areas where you can improve – in black and white.
Check out calorie counting apps – like MyFitnessPal – that have an extensive database of foods and the ability to add your own foods and recipes. Apps like these are accessible on your mobile device, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to add something; your food log is always available.
An added benefit of keeping a food log is that you’re more likely to think twice about putting food in your mouth, when you know you have to write it down. When you have to acknowledge how many calories are in the donuts a co-worker brings to the office, you’re more likely to hesitate before snatching up a second one… and you may even skip the donuts altogether the next time someone brings them to the office.
Just Add Water
Another weight loss trick is to use water to your advantage. Often times, we misinterpret our body’s need for hydration as hunger. We find ourselves eating without feeling satiated. The next time you’re considering a snack, drink a tall glass of water and give yourself twenty minutes before determining whether you’re actually hungry.
Drinking a glass of water before eating is an old trick for those trying to take in fewer calories at mealtime. That glass of water before your meal helps fill your stomach, so you’re less likely to stuff it with too many calories.
And water has lots of other health benefits: it promotes better digestion and healthy organ function and it improves your complexion.
What’s that you say? You don’t like water?
Add some natural flavor to your water – without adding calories or sweeteners.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
So, how long did it take you after New Year’s Day to fall off the healthy living bandwagon? Did you get frustrated at the super-crowded gyms after a few weeks? Did a Birthday party knock you off track? Don’t be so hard on yourself!
Creating a new habits is tricky work. It’s a long-term commitment. And sometimes we falter. It’s okay. Don’t let one bad evening, a week of vacation or even a rough start to the new year get you down. It happens. Get back on the horse!
In fact, often times, it’s unrealistic goals that set us up for falling off the horse. Trying to deny yourself any one food group (Have you heard that carbohydrates are bad? Tell that to your brain, which requires carbohydrates for normal function!) or any one food is an impossible task. You’re bound to fail and walk away from that diet. Save yourself the aggravation and stay away from dieting all together.
And don’t tell yourself that you have to cut out [insert your food weakness here] entirely. That, again, only leads to failure: as soon as you give in to your weakness, you’re bound to throw the towel in. Instead, cut yourself some slack. Some people give themselves a “cheat day,” a day when all eating sins are forgiven. While I’m not a fan of total abandon cheat days (they can undo all the hard effort of the rest of the week), allowing yourself some kind of a break is okay. And not letting yourself get caught up on an occasional indulgence is even better. “Everything in moderation.”
Losing weight, if it is one of your goals, isn’t about the numbers on the scale. It’s about feeling – and, as an added benefit – looking your best.
We know what it feels like to be carrying a few extra pounds. It doesn’t feel good.
You want to fit into your summer clothing without squeezing in a muffin top. You want to maximize the performance on your bike or your run. You want to be sick less frequently. You want to feel good, from the inside out. And – our secret desire – we all want to “look better naked,” right?
The time to shed that extra weight is now. Set your goal and map out your strategy.
You’re not alone; we’re here to help you along the way!
- If you missed it, check out Part 1 of this series: Making Resolutions Stick.
- Don’t miss the vital Part 3 of this series: Smart Eating.
- Check out Resolve to Riding a Bike, part 4 of this series.
- Stay tuned for the next segment of this discussion to help motivate you to reach your goals and prepare for summer.
- Sign up for our newsletter, so you get tips like these – and news about local cycling events – straight to your inbox every week.
- Kick start your weight loss by getting on the bike this summer. Whether you need your old bike dusted off and fixed up or you’re in the market for a new bike, we can help. We can help with that! Come in and talk with our friendly experts.
- New to cycling or the road? Thinking about trying a group ride? There’s no intimidation factor with us. Join us for our no-drop group rides, like our Saturday Morning Group Ride, which has already started for the year. All are welcome.
Need more inspiration? For further reading, check out our other articles about weight loss:
- Making Resolutions Stick, Part 1 of this series
- Smart Eating, Part 3 of this series
- Resolve to Riding a Bike, part 4 of this series
- New Year’s Resolutions
- News Year’s Resolutions – Revisited
- Weighing in on Cycling Weight
- Computraining for Weight Loss
- Strength Training for Cyclists
- Core Exercises for Cyclists
Years spent working in health clubs, our resident fitness guru, Joy Sherrick, shares with us the wisdom of her years of experience working with people to meet their fitness goals.