Most clients come to me looking to lose weight: sometimes just a few pounds and sometimes a significant percentage of body weight. The call usually comes after the client has already tried other weight loss programs that just haven’t worked (or sometimes have caused weight GAIN). Now, as many programs, nutritional systems and workout fads as I see out there, there is one weight loss method I’m not seeing enough of: Getting people to love and respect their bodies NOW so making healthy choices day to day becomes EMPOWERING, not threatening.
But first, here’s a crazy story: One of my Evanston clients had just joined a new gym near her house so she went to her free assessment because, she thought, why not? She met with the training manager, they chatted briefly and then he put her through a workout. Even though my client told him about her medical past, injuries and surgeries, the session ended up being a variety of totally inappropriate exercises that would have been difficult for most people.
Back in the office the manager told my client that:
Here’s the thing: We get so hung up on this idea that we need to weigh a certain amount (and we all have that exact number, right?) or fit into those high school jeans or we run ourselves crazy just so our thighs might no longer touch (Lululemon CEO Chip Wilson is not helping much with this).
We sabotage ourselves by saying things like, “I’m so fat I don’t deserve to be happy”, “I’m disgusting, I can’t believe I let this happen”. And then we watch shows where obese people are constantly berated and ridiculed, where their success is measured in weekly double-digit weight loss, how many times they puked during their workout or how bad they hit their head on the treadmill they just fell off of. Everything these days is extreme and no matter what we do, it isn't enough.
This is not a recipe for healthy, long-term, sustainable weight loss. This is a recipe for misery.
So here’s what I propose: Instead of pouring all of your energy into deprivation and loss, what if you focused on positive gains and milestones hit?
Let's rewrite the script, shall we? Here are 5 tips to get you started:
1. Give yourself credit! When you catch yourself doing something you couldn’t do last month because you got stronger or more flexible, take a moment to really reflect on that and thank yourself for getting yourself there. Sounds cheesy but taking those few seconds to reflect on how far you’ve come can go a long way.
2. Pick an exercise that you want to conquer: Doing a pushup or a pull-up or feeling better in a certain yoga pose. Do some research or consult a trainer to craft a plan to get yourself there. Instead of focusing on a number on the scale, you’re now constantly improving your performance.
3. Along those same lines, plan to do something you haven’t done before at the gym before you go; make this attainable but challenging. It can be a brand new exercise you’ve been meaning to try or lifting a heavier weight you haven’t lifted before. Then do it. It can be just once. But do it and then soak in the awesomeness.
4. Instead of banishing “bad” foods, incorporate more good foods to your plate. Start by adding one extra serving of vegetables every day for two weeks. (BTW, 1 serving of vegetables = 1/2 cup raw, chopped veggies or 1 cup raw, leafy greens.) Then continue with the veggies and choose another good habit to add for two weeks. Good habits add up.
5. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF! For every mean thing you tell yourself, talk back. Write out a mean phrase you keep telling yourself on one side of an index card and then put the rebuttal on the back. An example: Front “I can't believe I ate this whole burrito. Oh, well, guess I’m screwed for the rest of the day so I might as well keep going.” Back: “The rest of the day is actually filled with whatever I choose to fill it with and I choose to stand up, dust myself off and continue on with good choices because I know I can and I’ll feel so much better.” Read the card any time those negative thoughts pop up in your head.
Here's the bottom line (hence the bigger font, haha):
No matter what your weight loss goal is, you are always working on getting stronger whether you know it or not. Inside AND out. I tell people one of my training specialties is weight loss but really, I specialize in getting people stronger. And once I get my clients focused on that, too, that's when the magic happens.
F%^K leaving the gym feeling hurt and sad.
LEAVE THE GYM FEELING LIKE YOU COULD TAKE OVER THE WORLD BECAUSE YOU RULE.
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