Saturday, January 4, 2020

3 Absolutely Essential Tips for 2020 Weight Loss

Welcome to January 2020. "New Year New You", as the popular saying goes, and this year is no different. In fact, because we're now entering the start of a new decade, you may be more determined than ever before to meet your goals by the end of this year. We're here to help.
Whether this is the first year truly you've been inspired to change or you've been on this path before, we know that the road to success can be a bumpy one. Because this is all new, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed, discouraged or burned out and give up on the idea of being a new you. To set yourself up for success, follow these three essentials for weight loss in 2020.

Start Anytime

OK, so the new year is a great time to get into the mentality of starting something new, but there's absolutely never a wrong time to start. You can start in March, you can start in the middle of a month, you can start on a Wednesday and you can start at 6pm, if you're so inspired. Waiting to start can feel like you're ramping up toward success, but the truth is, if you wait to start you're only limiting the number of opportunities you're allowing yourself. Additionally, when you wait to get started, the pressure you've put on yourself to succeed is oftentimes too much, so when you fail - and we all fail sometimes - it can be very hard to gain the momentum you'll need to get started again.
Instead of thinking of your weight loss journey as having a starting and an ending point, get into the habit of seeing the individual moments of your life as opportunities. Forget what you're doing on Monday, instead pay attention to your morning routine, your everyday, your evenings and your bedtime habits. By noticing and appreciating the segments that make up your daily life, you'll find that even if your morning didn't pan out as planned, you'll still have the mental energy to tackle the rest of the day without feeling like you've failed.

Be Positive

Many of our attempts to change are cultivated in a very negative headspace; we don't like the way we look, we hate the way we feel and we regret letting it get this far. While it's only human to let pessimism get the best of us at times, we promise it'll be to your greatest benefit to cut out the negative self-talk once and for all.
While negative emotions can feel like a great kickstarter, living every day in anger or regret simply isn't healthy or sustainable. When we let negative emotions dictate our choices, we end up with knee-jerk reactions that'll help us alleviate our anxiety as quickly as possible. What we don't get are sustainable changes.
You may initially find it hard to shift your focus from negative to positive, and that's OK. Here are some tips:

  • Practice gratitude
  • Be compassionate
  • Set intentions
  • Be curious
  • Push the bad out with the good

Practicing gratitude will let you reflect upon your life positively. It'll provide you with sustainable strength to tackle your day, rather than simply kicking your survival gear into overdrive. Each morning, try to think of two or three things you can be truly grateful for. Marinade in these for 15-20 minutes, giving attention to the feeling itself without any negative commentary or judgment.

If you have negative thoughts, whether while you're practicing gratitude or at any other point throughout the day, remember to be compassionate with yourself. We're all only human, and much of our daily drive originates deep within our genes; you are not "too [this]" or "not enough of [that]".

Setting intentions is a powerful tool because it allows us to visualize our success. Visualization has been used for decades by some of the most successful athletes alive because your brain can't tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something you actually did or saw.

We all have bad habits, and many of us have been taught to believe that in order to break a habit, we must give it up for [insert the magical number of days here]. But the truth us, whether you quit smoking for 30 days or for six months, there's simply no proven timeline for when you're no longer susceptible to falling back into old habits.
Habits are the automatic things we do every day. Our habits are our brain's way of expending the least amount of energy and still get stuff done; the way you park your car, the shampoo you like and the foods you eat when you're bored, sad or hungry are all based on habits. Why do we establish certain habits but not others?
Habits are based on just a couple of things: a trigger or cue and the reward. The cue occurs before you engage in a habit. The reward is WHY you engage in the habit.

Getting curious about what triggers you to get into the habit loop is a great place to start when you're trying to break established habits. Start by writing down the event or thought or emotion that cued you to want a certain food or lose interest in going to the gym. Next, make a note of the habit you engaged in once the cue occurred. Finally, write down the reward you got from engaging in the habit.

Your journal entry might look something like this:

gym feels too overwhelming --> stayed home, watched TV and snacked instead --> felt much less anxious

The secret to changing patterns like this isn't to try and power through or to beat yourself up and subsequently canceling your Netflix membership. These are negative feedback patterns and your brain is going to do whatever it can to avoid them. That's why after 30 days of forcing yourself into the gym or limiting yourself to two hours of TV per week, you get burned out and scrap the whole mission.

The secret to changing your bad habits is to replace them with good habits. The second part of that secret is that you don't have to replace all the bad, you just have to start by pushing some of the stuff you don't want out with some of the stuff you do.

Because your triggers and subconscious cues are difficult to change (maybe someday, but don't start there), you need to learn how to establish new habits that still yield the same rewards. In the example above, the reward was that you felt much less anxious. Feeling less anxious is a "must" in this scenario, so anything we do once we're triggered by "gym feels too overwhelming" still has to lead us there.

Therefore, a new and much more sustainable habit change could be:

gym feels too overwhelming --> stayed home and watched TV while using resistance bands --> felt much less anxious

gym feels too overwhelming --> stayed home and planned a healthy dinner while talking to a friend --> felt much less anxious

gym feels too overwhelming --> went for a walk around the block listening to my favorite podcast --> felt much less anxious

gym feels too overwhelming --> stayed home and read a book I've been wanting to start, then took a nap with the cat --> felt much less anxious

By pushing out the bad habit of snacking while watching TV (and then ultimately feeling guilty) with a new habit that gives us a very similar reward, you'll be able to create new sustainable patterns that look much more like the life you want and less of the life you're looking to leave behind.

Take Baby Steps

  • Do you want to lose 75 pounds?
  • Do you wish you could run a marathon?
  • Ready to buy that size 8 bikini?

These are all admirable and realistic long-term goals, however, it's enormous goal-setting such as this that'll lead to a fast and ungraceful burnout by month three of your fantastic voyage.
There is no doubt that you are strong, willful and dedicated, and we understand just how important it is for you to prove that to your friends, your family and yourself. But ask yourself: What's the advice I'd give to my best friend in this situation? Or: How would I approach this if my current self could speak to my younger self right now? Chances are, you'd be much quicker to advocate small and realistic goals because you know that these are worth noticing, celebrating and striving for.

For the sake of your own success, both immediate and longterm, it'll be important to take those goals and break them into smaller attainable pieces. If your goal is to lose weight, consider all of the ways you might be able to measure that. Weight loss can be measured by marks on the scale, but also in how far you can easily walk, in how lose your shirts are getting or by the comments you're getting from others. Consider that any weight lost is a step in the right direction and that given a long enough timeline, your new habits will take you to that 75-pound mark.

There's no achievement too small when it comes to changing your life. Give yourself the credit you deserve, set realistic goals, be positive in your endeavors and feel free to start or start over at any time.
With time, patience and practice, you can achieve anything.


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