Staying committed to leading a healthy, clean-eating, fat-burning lifestyle takes, well, commitment. Every day, every meal we all have to make choices that determine whether we will store fat or burn it, whether we are tipping our hormones towards balance or towards metabolic dysfunction. It can be hard to always make the choice to be consistent in eating and training habits – at least for me it is.
So, in light of this, I use a few tricks to keep tabs on myself, so to speak, and I’d like to share them with you, in no particular order…
1. Define clear goals that have reasonable time lines
Simply saying, “I want to lose weight” or “I want a six pack” is not quite defined enough and you could be easily overwhelmed if you have no set goal points. A clear goal looks something like this: “I’d like to lose 1/2 inch off my thighs this month” or, “I’d like to fit into this bikini by my vacation that starts August 4th” By having a set date, you can monitor and check in with your progress and set intervals to see how close you are to achieving your goals. Of course there is a lot of power simply saying, “I want to live a healthy lifestyle and have a beautiful physique”, but make sure you set up some rules and “checkpoints” around that. Define what that looks like to you…write it down, perhaps.
2. Don’t procrastinate
If you skip a workout, write down the reason you did in a place you can see it – like on your calendar, or journal it. Read it back to yourself and question whether or not you think it is valid or if there are any counterpoints to it. “I’m tired” is a big excuse I use personally, yet I know that exercising energizes me and I invariably feel better after a workout. You may even want to call a friend or workout buddy or someone familiar with your goals for a “pep talk”.
The best insurance against procrastination is scheduled workouts with rest days built-in.
Remember, like training for anything or practicing any skill, consistency is key in order to see results.
3. Look at yourself every day in the mirror – naked
Yep. Full body. Looking at yourself allows you to see your strengths and areas that need toning or shaping. It is also one of your most reliable tools for gauging progress. It doesn’t really matter how much the scale says you weigh if you’ve got ab development, curves and definition that are readily spotted in the mirror. While I was training for my first figure show, Gary Leake said to me (after I was discussing how much weight I had dropped and where my body fat % was) that the judges weren’t going to make me step on a scale or ask me my body fat at the show, they were assessing how I would look. So he told me to look in the mirror. This was very good advice, that has helped keep me motivated, and I urge you to do the same. To those who would say it would depress them, I bluntly state – Get Over It. Knowing what you’ve got to work with and getting started and keeping track is going to get you to where you want to be faster rather. It’s sort of like using your credit card over and over but never looking at the bill.
4. Measure your waist daily, or every other day
This lets you know what your food is doing to you and also helps you keep track of your progress. As you shed water by eliminating certain foods from your diet (refined sugars, grains and some dairy) and then begin to burn fat, your waist will get smaller and smaller. As you build lat development and your glutes and legs, your waist will appear even smaller. If you’re a woman, you’ll notice this lifestyle awards you with the gorgeous, much coveted hourglass shape…feminine and strong, and if you’re a man, consistent eating and training will give you a fabulous V-taper…that is, broad, toned shoulders, lat and back muscles that taper into a slim waist without the dreaded “muffin top”.
5. Get a workout buddy
Or find a friend that has similar interests as you and talk to them regularly about your goals, progress, lack of progress, and challenges or triumphs you have. Having a social outlet is important in many contexts. If you can get your partner and/or family invested in your lifestyle, too, that would be wonderful, but if you can’t, that is fine too.
6. Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time
And carry them with you. This way, you’ll always have something to eat and won’t go hungry. Not letting yourself get very hungry is quite important. I call it “staying ahead of your hunger”. You will also make better food choices, avoiding fast food or tempting treats at the coffee shop, if you tote your clean eats around with you every day.
7. Wear clothes that fit you
That is to say, wear clothes that hug your curves and/or lay on your skin. How your clothes fit you – ie, getting looser in certain areas – is one of the first changes you will notice as your body begins to change. Conversely, you will also notice quickly if you are over-eating. Now, as you build muscle, you may notice some areas are becoming more snug. Use the waist of the pants as your guide.
8. Don’t keep “junkfood” in the house
If it’s not there, it’s not going to tempt you to eat it. One of the best habits you can develop is not buying junk at the store and not bringing it in to your house at all. We’ve talked about cheat meals in previous entries, and I am definitely an advocate for cheat meals for many reasons. The main differences here are that cheat meals are planned and usually happen at a restaurant. It is another thing entirely to have a stash of chips or ice cream in your house. I recommend doing yourself the huge favor of getting rid of all of these junky foods and not buying them anymore. Again, this can be easier said than done, but you’ll save some money and reach your goals much faster if that Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey is not calling to you from the depths of the freezer!
9. Remember, you have transformative power within you
This power is inherent and vast, and we all have access to it at all times. This transformative power is ready and simply waits to be tapped. You can reach your goals. No one has any more or less ability to aspire towards a more lean, healthy or functional body and mind. I don’t care if you weigh 300lbs, are in a wheelchair, or have hypothyroidism. It doesn’t matter if you have “issues” with food or have had knee surgery. You can do this if you choose to, and if your actions follow your choices. It is you alone who acts and chooses, no one does this or can do this for you.
…I love to hear from you. Contact me at [email protected] or find me on Facebook