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10 Tips To Keep You From Falling Off Track With Your Weight Loss Program

So you’ve started exercising and made changes with your diet in order to do something about your weight. Congratulations, you’ve just taken the all important first step and put yourself ahead of those who simply just talk about it but do nothing. The next big hurdle will be sticking with it. This is where the majority of people fall off and end up following “on-again, off-again” routines with exercise and diet.

If you want to get into that small percentage of people who stick with it long-term and see big time results from their efforts you’ll want to follow my top ten tips.  As a certified Charleston personal trainer and fat loss expert with over twenty years of experience, I’ve found the most successful people seem to have several things in common. Replicate what others have done before you to be successful. That’s good advice for anything in life. Let’s get right to it.

Tip #1: Minimize your choices and decision making with food.

Most people just starting a new diet routine tend to over-complicate things and fret about what they can and cannot eat. The more you have to think about what decisions you’ll make, the more likely you are to make the wrong ones. Trust me on this one.

You’re putting way too much pressure on yourself in the beginning to expect yourself to eat like someone who’s been following a Primal Blueprint diet for years. Think about it…how can you expect to be really good at something you’re just starting? The longer you go, the more you’ll pick up. Let the natural progression take place with learning new recipes, food choices, and adding variety over time.

I advise my clients all the time to just pick three-four things for meals and snacks and choose ONLY from that list except under rare exceptions for the first 30 days. There’s amazing power in this if you follow such a simplistic strategy.

The more free-will and decision making you have with food the more you’re likely to fail in the beginning. You have to remember you need to take baby steps and walk at something before you can run. Sure you can have all kind of free-will and decision making later, but at the start it’s only going to cause you to stumble.

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People will often balk at my recommendation when they first hear it because they think they’ll never be able to eat <fill in the blank> again.

I’ve had people get downright angry when I talk about not eating something for a while. This is why I prefer to only work with people who have already made the commitment to follow my coaching and do whatever is necessary. Not everyone is ready to make a change and I get that.

The important part here is to remember there’s a time and place for everything. Sure, you’ll be able to have <fill in the blank> again but if you want to see results do what the most successful people do.

Eliminate free will and decision making! If you think you’ll make a good choice from the vending machine you’re crazy. Not happening. If you think you’ll make a good choice when it’s eight o’clock at night, you’re starving, and you’ve got nothing ready at the house, forget it. Not happening. I can pretty much assure you it won’t be a chicken breast and steamed veggies. Let’s be honest here.

If you leave it up to your willpower, discipline, and decision making ability (to make the right choices) you will lose. Discipline isn’t something you force on yourself; it’s something you develop through repeat, habitual actions.

Repeated actions over time lead to habits and habits lead to routines. Your goal is to eliminate the thought process as much as possible. Get structure, make a plan, and be organized. That’s half the battle.

Make out your list of 3-4 things you’ll have for each meal and snack then get your butt to the grocery store. Get stocked up and write out a plan for what will be on the menu each night for dinner.

If you’re going out to dinner one night, figure out what you’d have in advance. Sure you can always look at the specials but it’s not like you’re going to be surprised when you walk into the door of some restaurant. That is unless you go to a restaurant that serves Viking food (not sure what that is but you’d probably be surprised if you went to one).

Most every restaurant will serve some type of grilled or baked lean protein and some veggies. If they don’t, don’t eat there. Seriously, who said you just had to eat those chicken tenders and fries like you had no choice. Come on now! Really, are you actually going to starve if you choose not to eat garbage and wait a few hours until you can get something decent?

Learn to let things go…I do it all the time. You think I’m going to eat Popeye’s Fried Chicken when that’s all to be found at an exit or airport terminal? I don’t think so. I’ll wait and my body will thank me for it later.

The planning and preparation isn’t really that difficult or time consuming, it’s just a change from your normal routine. You may wine about it, complain about it, and pitch a fit because you have to go to the store or take five minutes to write out what you’ll have for dinner, but get over it.

Seriously, have you ever thought about how many excuses most of us come up with for why we don’t do this? You’re far from alone, only the smallest 5-10% of people actually follow through with making a plan. But those who do are the ones that see the best results. Take it for what it is.

Tip #2: Put your name, reputation, and dignity on the line to hold yourself accountable.

Sound extreme? Hear me out on this one. If you’ve started a weight loss program, diet, or exercise plan countless times only to fall off track pay special attention here. When you can fall right back into old habits and nobody notices, it makes the decision ten-thousand times easier.

The more painful you make the decision to quit be, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it. Once again common sense but most people won’t dare to do something so bold. I say why not? Here are some of my favorite ways I’ve seen this work…and quite effectively I might add.

Tell your family, friends, everyone you know about what you’re doing and what will happen if you don’t follow through. Put it on Facebook and tell the world that if you quit, don’t follow through, get caught going back to old habits, etc, you’ll do something embarrassing and painful. The last part is very important because if it’s not embarrassing or painful it won’t be effective.

I’ve seen things like being videotaped eating a can of Alpo, posting pictures in a bikini, dressing up in a chicken costume and standing out in front of a busy retail strip, and the list goes on. Use your imagination here. This puts some big time pressure on you to follow through. Trust me, if you make the challenge painful enough you’ll follow through.

Tip #3: Keep a food journal for the first 30 days on your weight loss program

One of the most effective things you can do on a weight loss program is to keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal for the first 30 days can do amazing things. I don’t everything behind why it works so well, I just know that it does. Those who keep a food journal are significantly, and I mean significantly, more successful than those who do not.

So why do more people not do it? Once again because it’s work and requires thought. Most people don’t want to take the time to do it and figure they can be successful by changing habits their own way. After a while you’d think it would get old banging your head into the wall repeatedly with something that doesn’t work. Some people get it, others don’t.

One quick thing on journaling to help you be more successful. Contrary to what I lot of personal trainers teach, I advocate something called “reverse journaling.”

Instead of writing down what you had at the end of the day or as you go, write down what you’re going to have in advance. Plan out your meals and snacks prior to each day and check off for compliance when you follow through or make notes when you had to make an adjustment. Works like a champ, take it for what it’s worth.

Tip #4: Go to the grocery store at the same times each week

Preparation is the name of the game in weight loss. If you’re prepared you’ll be more likely to make better choices, plain and simple. Don’t leave things to chance or force yourself to make more decisions than you have to. Going to the grocery store should be something you plan out to do at the same times and days each week.

When you’re eating more Primal Blueprint diet foods like fruits and vegetables you’ll probably have to go to the store more than once a week. Make a list before you go and for heaven’s sake don’t go when you’re starving. Stick with what you came into the store to buy and avoid the impulse purchases.

Tip #5: Prepare food in bulk and store in containers for the rest of the week

If you’ve got a busy schedule like me it’s just not in the cards to be cooking something from scratch every night. If you can great, but if not you’ll want to get good at cooking things in bulk and putting them in Tupperware containers to be reheated later on in the week.

This is why I love things like Crock pots where you can cook 4-5 chicken breasts at a time or a big roast and eat off of it throughout the week.

The other nice thing with a Crock pot is it’s really hard to mess things up. If you put something on low it can cook all day without worrying about over-cooking it. I use mine probably three to four times a week. It’s without a doubt one of the most used tools in my kitchen along with my Breville juicer and Vitamix blender.

Tip #6: Put a copy of your list of your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options on the fridge.

Want to have more “top of mind awareness” with what you’re eating? Simple, put a list of what you’re supposed to be having smack dab on the front of the fridge so you have to look at it every time you open the door.

If it was me and I was trying to really be disciplined with creating my new habit I’d also tape one inside the pantry. I’d want to have a reminder everywhere I might be tempted to slide back into old ways.

Tip #7: Place a before picture somewhere you’ll see it everyday, the more places the better.

A lot of people will tell you that you should put up a picture of what you want to look like on mirror for inspiration. I say that’s a bunch of B.S. There’s no emotional correlation with putting up a picture of somebody else. Positive thoughts are essential with visualization but negative reinforcement is a much better overall motivator.

We are more driven by the avoidance of pain than the pursuit of pleasure. What I’d tell you to do is put a picture of yourself that you don’t like. One that reveals the body you don’t want to have. The more revealing the better. You want this right in your face taped to the bathroom mirror or anywhere else you’d be forced to look at it every day.

I’d did this myself a few years ago when stress with trying to run three studios led me to fall off track with my training and eating habits (yes I’m human too). I just got so mad one day I said enough is enough. I took some pictures with my shirt off and taped them to the bathroom mirror. For the next several weeks I was on a mission and didn’t stop until I got my body back. All I can tell from experience is that negative reinforcement works when it’s highly emotional.

Tip #8: Scheduled exercise just like you would any other appointment

If you want to be successful with sticking to an exercise routine you must create consistency with when you workout. You should schedule your workouts just like you would any other appointment. It’s a non-negotiable time that you take out of your day for physical and mental health. I don’t waver with this because it’s that important to me.

Will you make somebody upset at some point because you won’t blow off a workout? No question about it, but they’ll get over it. If they don’t you need to question how important they are in your life anyways.

Now there are certainly exceptions for this but for the most part you can be very regimented if you want to be. If you have the habit of blowing off workouts, schedule them at times of the day when you’re less likely to have conflicts.

There aren’t too many excuses for why a schedule conflict would come up at 7 in the morning for example. You get my point. If you really struggle with accountability and consistency hire a personal trainer. Trust me, you’ll be way more likely to show up for workouts when somebody is waiting on you and you’ve paid for their time.

Tip #9: Practice visualization and programming your subconscious thoughts

This is one of the areas that can be crazy effective but next to nobody does it. I’m not sure exactly why other than the fact that once again it takes time and thought. If you want to change your body you need to give your brain a clear target of what that looks like, feels, and how it’s supposed to be.

Visualization and the programming of subconscious thoughts is nothing more than taking five minutes out of your day (ideally once in the morning and once at night) to close your eyes and see yourself at the finish line. Imagine what you’ll look like when you reach your goals. How does it feel, what will you be doing? Use all your senses and be as descriptive as you can. It’s just day-dreaming about where you want to go.

I’ve written about visualization in detail in a past article on “Lessons From The Gabriel Method.” Check it out if you’d like to learn more.

Tip #10: Clean the slate every night and let things go of mistakes and slip-up’s

The final tip to help keep you from falling off the wagon with your weight loss is to clear the slate at the end of each day. Simply let it all go, what’s done is done. If you drag things with you they’ll do you no good! If you made mistakes and slipped up simply reflect back on it to see what you can learn. The important part is to keep moving forward and stay the course.

A lot of people drift when they mess up with their diet or miss a workout. Don’t fall into this trap. Your success or failure with weight loss doesn’t hinge on a single moment or event. It’s the combination of all these little moments day in and day out that make the difference.

You won’t be perfect I can promise you that, nobody is. Keep your mind focused on where you want to go and don’t let anything throw you off track. Success comes to those who simply refuse to give up.

There it is my top ten tips for how you can avoid falling off the wagon. I hope this helped to give you some valuable insight and if there was even one thing you picked up in this article that can make a difference I’ve done my job.

Like I’ve mentioned, going it alone can be tough. If you could use some help and assistance with a weight loss and fitness program I’m here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact me when the time is right. Until next time, live with passion, train with purpose, and eat primal!

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. You can receive a free, no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Fat Loss.