As challenging as it may seem, losing weight and getting into the best shape of your life doesn’t have to be a year-long struggle. In fact, many people have found that their transformation became easier once they learned how to accurately track their progress, hold themselves accountable for their actions and focused on their daily behaviour. Although you may have struggled in the past with specific diets, training regimens and weight-loss products, your life is about to change!
Located below are three strategies that can be implemented into any lifestyle for rapid weight loss and muscle building. Always start with small, manageable steps and build those behaviours into something that you can sustain for a lifetime. Fitness is a beautiful journey, not a final destination.
Did you know that most people in the gym have someone that holds them accountable for their workout, diet and training program? Rather it’s a trainer employed by the gym that they frequent or a loving family member, being accountable to others is a powerful tool. A popular article recently broke down the role that being held responsible plays in the lives of high-achieving executives and CEOs within the work space. It perfectly describes how small, non-invasive time spent alone has a trickle-down effect over the entire company that positively influences the actions of employees and management alike.
In the same regard, when we have others that rely on us to “do the right thing,” we’re more inclined to perform under pressure and in moments where, frankly, we don’t feel like hitting the gym. For readers that want to improve their odds at becoming fit and healthy in the near future, reach out to a friend, family member or coworker that can hold you accountable for your actions, or lack thereof.
Focus on Habits, Not Motivation
Ask yourself this question: How many times have you logged onto your favourite social media platform to see posts and pictures filled with fit bodies, million-dollar homes, beautiful people and flawless lifestyles?
Doesn’t it look amazing? This content, in a general sense, is designed to give us motivation to reach higher, achieve more and work longer hours to maintain the lifestyle we want. Although this type of motivation can be beneficial in the short term, it often creates negative self-talk in our lives. In short, we can’t maintain the level of productive activity required to achieve our dreams without experiencing burnout and fatigue.
Are we supposed to kick our dreams to the curb and float back to the real world, or is there another approach that makes our dreams become a reality? A book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg perfectly demonstrates how humans behave on a habitual level, and how their lives are influenced by these actions. Shockingly, Duhigg found that most people operate their lives on a reactive basis where pleasure was the ultimate driving source. In short, we perform specific actions that promise the outcome of our favourite reward (television, relaxation, reading a book or eating ice cream). Duhigg articulates our behaviour as a series of events that follow a certain framework — cue, routine and reward.
We may be cued into our habit by seeing a commercial of a delicious chocolate bar that we’ve loved since we were a child. From here, we may head to the store (routine) to see if they’ve stocked up on that delicious chocolate that’s been floating around our head all day. Then, as our hunger pangs begin to arise, we receive the reward of indulging ourselves in delicious treats — not bad! But Duhigg dives further into this behaviour and finds that the cue, routine and reward system can be manipulated to facilitate positive habits such as working out, eating healthy and remaining active as we begin to age.
Over the next week, take mental note of how you crave certain rewards throughout your waking hours. Do you find that you suddenly desire soft drink around noon? If so, change the routine section of your routine where you head to the kitchen and grab a flavored water instead of the sugar-filled drink. After you’ve performed this series of events, reward yourself with a healthy alternative that keeps your waistline trim and prevents unwanted weight accumulation. Whatever your situation may be, you can change the routine and reward system to instill lifelong habits that benefit you in both the short and long-term future.
The old adage of “what gets tracked, gets measured,” was not just a quote that people used to overly-obsess about small details — it’s true! Individuals that track their weight daily, take note of their workout duration and intensity and monitor their caloric intake lose more weight than those who don’t. The final step of your transformation is to make sure you’re tracking every metric of your workout and diet routine and rewarding yourself when you hit milestones and victories.
Benjamin Harkin — a PhD at the University of Sheffield — recently broke down the power that frequently tracking progress has on certain aspects of life. According to Harkin’s findings, people who regularly track their efforts are more likely to achieve their goals and surpass their previous expectations. The study followed the lives of over nineteen-thousand participants in their fitness endeavors and took note of how often they tracked their results. Surprisingly, the participants who kept note of their milestones, calories, time spent in the gym and weight loss surpassed their peers by a significant amount.
In the weeks and months to come, keep a detailed log of both your errors and your accomplishments. Even though you may have setbacks that leave you feeling sad and unmotivated, these instances will act as motivators for future activity. Remember: Your life and your health are incredibly important to not only yourself, but the people around you that truly care for your well being. Take pride in yourself and dive into your fitness journey with vigor and pride!