In my last post I spoke about the mindset that is most likely to get you to your goals. While that’s important, you might want to know what you can actually DO to be successful. The way you eat and exercise are critical, but this post isn’t a nutrition or workout 101. Rather, it’s a list of the actions that will ensure you’re consistent with your diet and workout regimen.
Every great endeavor starts with a plan. In this case, your nutrition and workout plan comes first. Once that’s settled, you should also consider meal planning, planning around social events, and having an “emergency” plan for unexpected things that pop up. Yeah, that’s a lot of planning, but it’s much easier to get to a destination when you have directions.
- Meal planning: Pick which days you’re going to plan your meals, make your grocery list, get the groceries, and cook them. Are you going to bulk cook or spread out your cooking throughout the week? What day and what time? I used to bulk cook on Sundays and honestly, it got old after a while. Really old. If just reading this paragraph gives you a headache you can do what I do and get a meal delivery service.
- Social events: Unless you expect to be a hermit (which I don’t recommend), you’re going to find yourself in some compromising social events with rich, fatty foods and flowing booze. How are you going to deal? Some options are saving your cheat meal for the event or planning to only eat proteins and stay away from alcohol. I know firsthand it can be HARD to stay on track when faced with temptation, but having a talk with myself beforehand about my intentions greatly improves my chances of following through. The best part is that when you succeed in sticking to the plan you feel really awesome and empowered afterwards. #truth
- The unexpected: You could be running late for work and not have time for breakfast or you could’ve forgotten your lunch. There’s always a twist of fate waiting to pull you from your routine. In those cases, it helps to have a backup plan. Keep a box of protein bars or instant oatmeal in your desk or bag or pick some “safe” fast-food items ahead of time in case you need a quick meal.
Prep your meals
I mentioned meal planning above, but I want to emphasize that meal prepping is one of the most important actions in reaching a fitness or fat loss goal. Eating out all the time makes your bank account smaller and your waistline bigger. Restaurant meals are notoriously heavy, and even the healthier options tend to sneak in extra oil, butter, etc. Keep the restaurant meals to a minimum and be prepared to start making your own food. Or, like I said, get a meal delivery service. It’s a bit more expensive than buying and cooking your own food, but I will gladly pay more for convenience and extra time.
Track your intake
This one is a bit controversial, but in my opinion it makes a huge difference. It’s the number one thing I recommend when people ask me what they can do to lose weight. Some folks can change their body composition without tracking food, but they seem to be few and far between. When you’re not tracking your food you are essentially winging it, and it’s so easy to sneak in little bites that add up. And yes, weighing or measuring your food goes along with tracking. It is annoying, but it becomes second nature once you get into the swing of it.
Logging your food really puts things into perspective. If you have no idea how many calories you are taking in or what your macros are it’s hard to make adjustments. Tracking your intake gives you concrete information to work with. It’s also an eye-opening experience when you realize how big (or little) a serving size is and how seemingly innocuous foods can add up to sabotage your goals. This is the one action that people are extremely resistant to, but just remember that it’s not something you’re going to do forever.
*My favorite app for tracking is MyFitnessPal.
Compliance is the act or process of doing what you have been asked or ordered to do. Being compliant means that you’re consistent. You put the time in, day in and day out. In the world of personal training, a client’s compliance determines how successful they will be in reaching their goal. Highly compliant clients show up on time, do all their exercises, and follow their nutrition guidelines. Low compliancy clients…well, don’t. You can get in reasonably good shape if you are at least 80% compliant. That means you’re doing what you’re supposed to at least 80% of the time. If you eat three meals a day, that means only four of your meals for the entire week should be cheats. You’ll get even better results if you’re 90% compliant. And here’s a pro tip: tracking is a great tool to determine how compliant you’re being.
Say no to the donuts in the office. Say no to dessert. And I know it sucks (at least for me, hah), but sometimes you’re going to have to say no to happy hour. It’s easy to give in to peer pressure, but you’ve got to be firm! And this becomes a lot easier when you…
Tell people what you’re up to
The more you put your intentions on blast, the more likely you are follow through. Most of us want to live up to our word, so when we tell other people about our goal or post about it on social media it automatically makes us more accountable. Not sharing your fitness goals is a form of hiding, whether it’s due to embarrassment or not wanting people in your business. But there’s no accountability in hiding. It’s too easy to get away with slipping up. Sharing what you’re up to will make life easier for you. Your friends will support you and you won’t have to constantly turn down their offers of food/drinks, etc.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to getting in shape than diet and exercise. It can seem overwhelming, but these things are all VERY do-able. Just like anything else, they’re skills that you have to develop. And I promise you, they’re not that hard to master. If you have the dedication, all the pieces will fall into place.