Move forward by thinking backward

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012. Most think of each new year as new beginnings, a clean slate, an opportunity to set goals and make big changes. Weight loss goals quite often are at the top of these lists. Statistically only 12 per cent of New Year’s weight loss goals come to fruition. I’m hoping by explaining the backwards approach to reaching your goals I can help influence that number.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012.

Most think of each new year as new beginnings, a clean slate, an opportunity to set goals and make big changes. Weight loss goals quite often are at the top of these lists.

Statistically only 12 per cent of New Year’s weight loss goals come to fruition. I’m hoping by explaining the backwards approach to reaching your goals I can help influence that number.

We are all resistant to change physically and psychologically. So when we set dramatic goals that require significant change from our current day to day habits we run the risk of “running out of willpower.”

I’ve heard that comment many times throughout my personal training career: “I just don’t have the willpower.”

Everybody has all the willpower they need to achieve any goal. The problem is that we get very focused on the end result but don’t actually think about how to get there.

It’s an old analogy but just think about trying to drive from here to a specific address in Vancouver without a map (or GPS), I doubt any of us have the “willpower” for that either. Yet that same task with a little more planning could become easy, comfortable, and even enjoyable.

You could take multiple days, plan to stop at some nice relaxing points along the way, see the sights and remove all stress and worry about the difficulty of reaching the final destination.

If you want to reach your weight loss goal this New Year’s it’s time to start thinking backwards.

When I first meet with many of my clients I always tell them the secret to reaching their goals is changing as little as possible about their life style to reach their goals. The less things you have to change from how they are now the more likely you are to stick with it.

So if you have a weight loss goal here are a few things that will likely be needed to ensure you reach that goal:

l 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity per day.

l Eating 5-6 meals.

l Drinking 3-4 L of water per day.

l Resistance exercise 3-4 days per week.

Right now you may not be doing any of these things — for instance most of us only eat 2-3 meals per day. For the first week choose something comfortable like simply adding a piece of fruit and a handful of almonds a couple times a day outside of your meals.

And start with aerobic activity just once or twice a week or as little as 5-10 minutes a day.

It just has to feel like no big deal. The real secret is plan out these baby steps so you always know what you are working toward next week. As long as each step is gradual and feels like no big deal you will continually find it easy to adapt these habits to your lifestyle for the long term.

Don’t get hung up on the scale, it doesn’t need to drop rapidly. In fact it’s better if it doesn’t, because generally the faster you lose the weight, the more likely you are to gain it back.

No one likes to hear that but it’s the certain truth I’ve seen repeatedly throughout my 20 years in the fitness industry. “Losing just one or two pounds per week is almost a guarantee you are likely to keep it off forever.” It doesn’t sound like much but just think about how it adds up; two pounds a week would run to over 100lbs in the next year!

How many achieve that goal? How many retain it?

Review your weight loss goal, pick a realistic target and then work backwards with baby steps to where you are now.

Make sure each week incorporates just a couple new baby steps that make each little step comfortable and no big deal.

At first people around you may look at you funny or criticize but come March, April and May you’ll be in the 12 per cent when almost all other New Year’s resolutions are forgotten.

Cabel McElderry is a local personal trainer and nutrition coach. For more information on fitness and nutrition, visit the Fitness F/X website at www.fitnessfx.com.

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