So many times I see people over complicating their body transformation projects because they think they have to get many things into place before they can start. So they research, read, absorb information, hesitate, get frustrated, get overwhelmed, feel inadequate, worry and so on without ever concluding much.
The truth is the best place to start a weight loss program is exactly wherever you are at when the idea strikes, whenever you feel inspired to create those changes in your body composition. Having a burning desire to succeed is what’s going to keep you going over time and gracefully soar over obstacles on your way towards your goals.
The thing is if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of starting a fitness makeover because you think you have to restock your pantry all at once and somehow find dozens of hours to exercise every week you can breathe a sigh of relief… none of this is necessary. The perfect weight loss program for you is the one that you can follow effortlessly in the long run so you need to be strategic at the outset to ensure long lasting adherence.
Let’s figure this out! When it comes to food…
Do you find that your kitchen is full of pre-packed and pre-cooked convenience foods that you can reheat in the microwave and are ready to eat in a jiffy? What about crackers and cookies? Although it’s unlikely that they will be the ideal food for your purposes they are still food and it would be a shame to waste them. You may find that microwave meals contain a few “naughty” ingredients designed to make them come across as full of flavour which can make transitioning to a diet based on fresh produce challenging.
It’s not that fresh fruit and veg are inherently bland in flavour… however, they will appear so if you are used to eating meals that are loaded with salt and strongly flavoured ingredients. It takes a while to get used to “normal food” but if you allow yourself enough time you will learn to appreciate the many subtle nuances of flavours and aromas that make nature’s bounty… well, a bounty!
The best way to start a diet is to not go on a diet, but rather to pick one or two habits that are causing you to gain weight and change them. Slowly. One step at the time. Then choose another “bad habit” and change that and so on until you have seamlessly transformed your old nutritional habits into new ones that will support you every step of the way. The best weight loss methods are the ones that you can follow easily because it is based on your personal preferences with regards to the types of food you eat whilst keeping you in a calorific deficit and your metabolism balanced.
The worse your habits are the harder this is going to be and the kinder you must be with yourself if you are serious about changing. It will take you longer to adopt a more natural approach to nutrition but it’s well worth the effort. One way you can get started is to take a typical meal for you and add something fresh to it: a tomato, a courgette, a side salad, an apple or some nuts. Start getting used to different veggies (or fruit) and before you know it you will be looking forward to having a food rainbow on your plate every day! …and the best part is that by that point you will have forgotten about all the junk you used to crave.
I know that most diets that you purchase online come with a shopping list implying that you are going to start on the day that you have all the ingredients but I would recommend reading and understanding the logic behind that particular diet and then go and buy the things you know you like that you know will fit in. When I feel like experimenting with a different framework for creating my meals I usually give myself a couple of weeks to complete the switch. This gives me time to get used to the principles and to include some of my favourite foods with the diet’s recommended foods. I also use the same strategy with my clients and they all find it easier to change their habits one at the time instead of suddenly changing everything and having a million different things to think about.
When it comes to exercise…
This is an equally daunting area for many of the people I work with. For some reason they are led to believe that if they can’t perform like Olympic athletes they will be derided and won’t get any results from their weight loss programs. They get all shy when it comes to doing structured exercise. Big weights have been lifted off many shoulders whenever I pointed out that exercise is the least important aspect of any fitness makeover project: nutrition comes first, then lifestyle, then movement and then exercise.
Can’t do a full squat? Who cares! Do what you can and build on that. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll make progress if you are consistent and apply yourself. Elegance and finesse within your performance are nice touches and show that you have mastered the art of executing that movement but you shouldn’t be too hung up on this in the beginning and feel that your workout isn’t effective. Smoothness comes with a practice, a lot of practice. As long as you follow the cues for executing each exercise with perfect form and put some effort in you will get results.
A trick that I often use with my clients is to turn each exercise session into something that resembles more play than a workout. I won’t skimp on form or safety (or even hard work) but I too get bored when I do the same thing over and over and over again… so I try to discover what each client enjoys the most and then I inject a little bit of that into each workout. For example: if I come across a lady client who is sassy and enjoys a bit of a boogie I will teach her how to do stripper squats. The first two or three are usually a giggle but by the 6th she will know she is doing them! If the client is a bit more adventurous and averse to traditional exercise I will teach her a few tricks to do with a hula hoop. You know, just to keep the brain extra sharp too. If a client is really adventurous and not afraid to get mucky I will teach her how to get super-strong and beautifully toned by doing quadrupedal body weight exercises. If you can make your workout fun you will always look forward to the next one.
The best strategy for creating a good beginner workout plan is to start by doing exactly what you are capable of doing and then challenge yourself to go a little bit further every time. You don’t need any equipment or fancy gear to get started: your PJs and some floor space are all that you need to complete your first bodyweight workout. Right now! You will be surprised at how challenging this can be but you will also get a feeling of supreme satisfaction at the end just because you actually took that first step. Eventually, depending on your goals, as you get more nimble you can start adding weights to create more resistance or swiss balls to challenge your balance and co-ordination and then maybe move on to a sport that you love.
When it comes to lifestyle and moving…
As I said earlier these are more important than exercise because they are the foundation of your wellbeing as well as your body transformation. Think about it: making sure that you get plenty of down time and rest is fundamental to your success in business or at work. Your brain cannot perform at its best if you are tired, grouchy, sleep deprived and sour from doing too much stuff without ever enjoying some “me time”. Being able to carve out some time to indulge in the things that matter to you will instantly help you approach nutrition and exercise from a place of excitement instead of a place of drudgery.
Movement, i.e. everything that you do from the moment you wake up to when you go back to sleep is what humans are designed to do. We didn’t evolve to spend our days sitting on a chair staring at a computer screen and just generally being inactive. We are meant to be moving around all day long with walking ranking as the number one activity to ensure maximum wellbeing. As well as keeping your legs nice and strong, walking has the power to relax you deeply and to help you reset your metabolism to keep your stress hormones at bay. You will be surprised at how many calories your N.E.A.T. (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) activities will help you burn. Way more than a single exercise session and yet this is an aspect of body transformations that is often overlooked.
Final thoughts on getting started…
Sometimes we forget that our best tool when it comes to weight loss is the grey matter in between our ears but it can also be our biggest enemy if we can’t get a handle on our thoughts and understand the many ways in which they affect our moods and our ability to accomplish anything.
After working with many clients over the years I realised that their biggest stumbling block was their mindset which led them to what marketers call “analysis paralysis” i.e. get lost in so many trains of thoughts about fitness and weight loss that they always struggled to get started and then keep on going.
If you recognise yourself as someone whose heart and mind aren’t on the same page when it comes to fitness makeovers then I suggest you check out my book “8 Mindset Tweaks for Effortless Weight Loss” available on Amazon.
Its purpose is to help you focus your intentions so that you are 100% clear on the reasons that brought you to decide that now is the time to get your body transformation project underway. If you feel hesitating or unsure in any way I strongly recommend you read it. You’ll be glad you did! 🙂