The first of February is an anniversary for me. On this day in 2004, I started my weight-loss journey. Before I had opened my eyes that morning in 2004, I had already set clear goals, armed myself with knowledge, and created strategies to help me succeed. I saw a steady, 2 lb weight-loss every week and was 60 pounds lighter by July 1st and 75 lbs lighter by September 1st.
I remember thinking at the time that there was too much pressure associated with a January 1st start date for resolutions and goals, hence the February 1st beginning. And I knew that weight-loss resolutions were the number one resolution people made and the vast majority of them failed (a number that I recently research showed that 92% fail in their New Year’s weight-loss resolution!). I also initially didn’t tell anyone what I was doing due to that fear of failure. But the experience taught me a couple of things about myself and goal-setting that have stuck with me for the past twelve years and plays a role in my coaching philosophy.
Three Key Lessons for Weight-loss
A plan is more important than a date.
I’m the type of person who will start something new whenever the mood strikes. Have I been indulging in sugar a little too much this week? Thursday is a good a day as any to cut back. Waiting for a Monday, a new month, or a new year often gives us a “pass” to continue our poor habits or behaviour and to “make the most of it”. This just reinforces the bad habit and makes it that much harder to curb when the time comes to “start”.
But having a plan is key. Rather than starting a weight-loss journey on the much-hyped January 1st without a plan, I spent the month of January planning my strategy. My goal was to lose 50 lbs through Weight Watchers (I did the at-home program and never attended meetings due to shyness/low confidence). I used the new year’s motivation that I was feeling to read about the program, plan meals, look-up recipes, and prep my pantry and kitchen. By not sitting on my hands and waiting until February 1st, I began the program confidently and prepared, making it much more likely that I was going to succeed.
Start with clear goals.
Being a teacher I had heard of “SMART” goals before and while I don’t remember writing out a formal plan in 2004, it was in my head to have measureable and realistic steps. Although my goal to lose 50 lbs was a big one, I broke it down into the smaller goal of 1-2 lbs a week, which I knew was to be a healthy and sustainable weight-loss. I also didn’t want to be obsessing on the scale so I create a rule to only weigh myself on Friday mornings.
When I began in February I didn’t start an exercise regime. As a teacher who commuted 60 minutes each way to work and was feeling overwhelmed with marking, lesson prep, and extra-curricular activities, I knew that adding too many commitments and goals would set me up for failure. I also needed the confidence of feeling better about myself before I could start exercising again (at this point I don’t think I had any workout clothes that fit!). So despite being quite active and fit in my youth and university, I put exercise on the back burner for the moment. I did pick up running that spring after my initial 20 lb loss and set a new goal by signing up to run a local 5K at the end of June in my hometown. Running led to more running and weight-loss and I signed up for my first Try-a-Tri that September.
Journaling is important.
With my main goal focusing on nutrition, one thing I committed to was to journaling all my food. Weight Watchers at the time had us recording our “points” (which was almost entirely based on “calories-in” and didn’t take into consideration the healthy balance of foods need for good health. While I was able to loose weight on this calorie-restricted diet, I did pick up many unhealthy habits – which is a topic for another blog post!). The action of writing down everything I ate worked for me – and numerous studies have shown that this is one of the best strategies for weight-loss. When I need to get back to basics (which I will after this baby is born in a few weeks!) I will return to my trusty food journal to help keep me on track.
This year I continued the trend of not setting any resolutions on January 1st. I spent the month of January setting goals, making plans, and getting myself organized for the year ahead. I have established goals for my personal life, finances, coaching business, and a few other areas.
I’m also trying out the Bullet Journal method of organization, which I think will help me stay organized this year while on maternity leave. Since I won’t be following a set schedule during the day, my usual method of planning won’t really apply (I really like the set-up of the Passion Planner). I learned about bullet journaling at the end of last year and my curiosity led me to many great blogs and resources to help me get started (check out Boho Berry – I love her journals). The beauty of a bullet journal is that you can adapt it to your needs and change it whenever something isn’t working. I will be using it primarily for daily tasks and reminders, recording daily memories (that will help with photo book and scrapbook creation), and keeping a daily gratitude list. I am also starting Life Captured’s daily journal prompts to encourage me to reflect and write more often. One of my personal goals this year is to be more reflective and slow down, and I think my bullet journal will help with that.
What are your goals for 2016 or some goals you have set for yourself recently? Share below!