Changing the way you eat is challenging, and there are certain strategies that are more effective than others when it comes to reaching your weight loss goals. When changing any behavior, it is always a safe bet to:
1.) Establish what your long-term goal is (e.g. I want to lose 20 lbs)
1a.) This is your final destination.
2.) Become aware of your current status (e.g. I weigh 200 lbs and I snack too much, consistently eat past fullness, and don’t move my body enough)
2a.) This is your starting point.
3.) Create a timeline (e.g. I want to achieve this goal in 6 months)
3a.) This is your ETA (estimated time of arrival).
4.) Make small meaningful changes in a progressive way (e.g. I will eat a small salad daily for the first week. For the second week, I will stop having a soda at lunch, and have water instead.)
4a.) This is the pathway to your final destination, and also your speed limit. If you go too fast, you might lose control and crash, coming to a dead stop.
5.) Become aware of barriers you might encounter, and create practical strategies to overcome them (e.g. When it rains, I don’t like going on my daily walk. Therefore, I’ll create a simple home exercise-plan to have ready when it rains.)
5a.) This is your map; it shows you alternative routes to your final destination.
6.) Build social support (e.g. explain to your friends and family the changes you are making in your life, and why they are important to you)
6a.) This is AAA. When your vehicle breaks down and you can’t go any further on your own, you have someone there to help get you rolling again.
7.) Set your intention, and constantly remind yourself of it. (e.g. I want to lose 20 lbs because I’ll be healthier, look better, and feel better).
7a.) This is the fuel for your vehicle. Ultimately, reaching your goal all comes down to your base-motivation. Don’t forget to remind yourself of it often.
8.) If necessary, re-assess. If you stop getting results, or if the changes you made are too challenging, figure out what isn’t working and make the appropriate changes.
8a.) You’re in the driver’s seat. You have creative control. Don’t be afraid to try something different or unheard of, if it works for you.
Wow, I really took that road trip metaphor embarrassingly far. I apologize, I could not help myself. Moving on…
The above method of behavior change/goal-reaching doesn’t just apply to changes you want to make with your body; it can apply to things like learning a new language, or learning how to play an instrument.
Bottom line: Work smart, not hard. Planning on how you will achieve a goal ahead of time allows you to figure out the easiest way to do it, ensuring better results. Changing your lifestyle is challenging, but if you face that challenge with a personalized plan that is gradual and progressive, your likelihood of success will be much greater.