These mental strategies will help you shed pounds the right way.
The secret to losing weight is to—say it with us—eat less and move more. If only it were that simple.
True, trimming calories and taking a few extra laps around the park will help you tighten your belt. But for sustainable weight loss, you have to get your mind in the game too.
Attitude is everything, says Layne Nordquist, C.P.T., an area director and master trainer at VASA Fitness in Denver. No matter how many chips you leave in the bag or extra steps you walk, the number on the scale won’t budge much if you haven’t also made changes to your mindset.
The way you mentally approach weight loss is one of the biggest factors that determines success, Nordquist says. Here are three strategies that will help you see lasting results.
Mind Trick #1: Set Small Daily Targets
Big changes won’t happen overnight. You have to start small.
“I often have clients write down their goals—and they have so many!” says Nordquist. “They want to attack everything at once. But that’s too overwhelming.”
After all, while exercising four days per week might sound like a relatively simple goal, you have to do more than just show up.
Will you learn workouts on your own, or take a SilverSneakers class? Can you adjust your current schedule to make enough time for exercise?
For that reason, Nordquist recommends focusing on small, attainable goals to start with. Things that you know you can do today.
Some good examples: Try a new workout class, add a 10-minute walk to your day, or eat a serving of vegetables with every meal.
“You need that small win,” he says. Once you get it, you’ll have the oomph you need to set the next target.
Mind Trick #2: Refine Your Daily Habits
“If you skip brushing your teeth for one day, you’re not going to have bad teeth,” Nordquist says. “It’s the same with your body. It’s the habits that are built over time that matter.”
So instead of worrying about the infrequent stuff—like eating cake to celebrate a friend’s birthday or missing a workout while traveling—concentrate your efforts on the day-to-day habits that, even if they seem small, are the ones that really matter.
For example, have a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast every morning, or do gentle yoga poses that promote sleep so you can get seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night. Over time, habits like these can make the biggest difference in losing weight and keeping it off, Nordquist says.
Mind Trick #3: Throw Out the Calendar
While dressing to impress at the spring class reunion—or the thought of being in your swim trunks by summer—are certainly incentives to drop pounds, focusing too much beyond the next 30 days can cause you to lose motivation and momentum.
Even if you have a goal you want to reach at the end of the month, there’s no finish line, Nordquist says. You have to maintain healthy habits to continue to lose weight and keep it off.
Plus, looking too far ahead may make you miss the benefits you’re experiencing right now. Do you have more energy? Are you able to move with less pain? Are your pants feeling a little less snug? Those are all wins, and signs you’re moving in the right direction for long-term success.
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