I see a lot of cringe-worthy claims in my industry of fitness. Rock hard abs in a matter of days, liquid meals that will make you drop pounds in a flash, or that J-Lo butt by next Wednesday.
Lots of gimmicks play on the emotions of people who desperately want to lose weight -- and fast. It's human nature to want results quick. Who doesn't like efficiency and speed? That's why no one is a fan of getting stuck in a traffic jam, waiting in some endless line or pleading with your computer to get unstuck. We want to see progress, and we want it now, please.
But here's your reality check: Quick fixes can lead to quick results that quickly vanish. If you want lasting change, it's time to let go of instant gratification BS and find a new way to live. You can love how you look and feel (permanently) by developing decent habits that become second nature to you.
1. Be who you are and do what you like.
You know yourself better than anyone else. If you despise mornings, don't force yourself to go power walking before the sun comes up. If you admire someone who lives at the gym but you know that's not you, that's okay. Work with who you are. If the notion of jogging makes you want to stay in your pajamas eating peanut butter out of the jar, find an activity that appeals to you or (dare I say) that you look forward to. Dance, walk, hike, bike, rollerblade or go to a yoga class. You know you.
I'm all about consistency, but if you don't find an activity you like and is convenient, you won't do it. Plan an activity you will actually do at a time when you will actually do it. Drop the word exercise and think of it as training. Training for a 5k, an upcoming tennis match, or maybe just training for a healthy life. Maybe that means you work out with a friend or have to make a new playlist that will inspire you to move. Just tap into what you know is doable for you.
I'm a believer in having a motivator to keep you going, whether it's a workout buddy, a class that you regularly attend or your personal trainer. Whatever works for you. Soon, you will experience all the physical and mental rewards of regular movement, and exercise will just become a habit you don't want to miss.
2. Think about eating, not dieting.
Forget diets forever. You don't have to try the soup diet or the grapefruit diet or the shake diet. For the rest of your life, you are going to need to eat, so wouldn't you prefer to have a better relationship with food? You don't have to feel deprived or focus on what you can't eat. Take those four letters D-I-E-T and rearrange them to spell E-D-I-T. Edit what you eat. Think about preparing and eating delicious meals that support your health most of the time.
Think of food as fuel that your body needs to operate at its best. Nourish your body with your daily choices. Go for clean eating -- using fresh veggies and real ingredients you can pronounce. Eat fewer processed and packaged foods. I love the simplicity of Michael Pollan's quote: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
Get creative and make new recipes you've never tried before and eat healthier desserts. You can love food, be a foodie, enjoy delicious foods and still lose weight or stay in shape. If you need help with recipe ideas that embrace clean eating -- I've got you covered!
3. Give up shame and blame forever. Imagine that you make decisions about food and exercise and you never beat yourself up again. You allow yourself the occasional indulgence. You say "that's okay" to yourself when you miss a workout. You eat dessert and enjoy every bite. No giant helping of guilt to go on top of that piece of cheesecake for you.
As I always say, you cannot make anything positive happen when you are experiencing negative emotion, so shift your mindset to the positive. If I choose to have a dish of ice cream, I recognize it's a treat and I enjoy it -- with a smile on my face and guilt-free. It's just a choice; the end of the world isn't coming. I promise. Run your habits through this filter: Make decisions that support your health the majority of the time. Just by accepting that you will do better (by your own standards) on some days more so than others, you can let go of food guilt. View each day as an opportunity to invest in your health with your decisions about food and exercise and drop the mental baggage.
This is your one and only life, and I think you should love it. It doesn't matter what you weigh when you read this -- the best way to love how you look and feel is to love yourself throughout the process and develop decent habits and results that stick.