There is only one way for effective weight loss and that is by changing your life and take action in what you have loss control.
Every time I have an interview with new Custom Body Fitness members the first thing I need to find out is why it’s important for them to lose weight. Many people come to ask for our help without even knowing why they want to lose weight. They know they want to lose weight, but they don’t know exactly how weight loss will help with the problem they may have.
Usually, according to their response, I can tell if they are ready to lose weight and transform their body. I also discover how much weight they are willing to lose, what effort they are willing to put into the program and how important it is for them to lose weight.
The “why” is very important because it’s going to give you the fuel, the passion, the excitement and the energy when you are tired and unmotivated.
For example, my “why” to get in shape was so powerful that I became obsessed about weight lifting. I was very young and I did not know much, but my “why” was enough motivation for me to get to the gym and drop many bad habits, such as drinking. I wanted to have a nice body to feel attractive. I wanted to stand out.
Now that I know how important exercising is, my “why” has improved to wanting to be strong and independent, adding value to my life. It helps me to be sharper and have better ideas; it helps me with my stress; I avoid injuries due to weakness; I’ve become mentally strong; I burn fat faster; I buy the clothes I like not what simply covers my body; it makes me younger; it makes me a better example to follow; it contributes to my efficiency at work and life; I don’t get sick as often as many other people; and it is a human need for a higher quality of life, and a high quality of life is what I want.
If you’re not sure why you want to lose weight, find out and make it a priority before you start any weight loss program. Otherwise it will be very easy for you to quit. Is it for your grandchildren? To find a partner? To gain self-confidence? Because you are dying? Because your clothes don’t fit anymore? Because you can’t do all the recreational activities you’ve always wanted to? Because you don’t fit into a single airplane seat? Because you want a better life and being overweight is a hindrance? Because you want to prove wrong others who doubt you can lose weight? Because of your upcoming wedding?
Even though you may think your “why”s are superficial, write down all the reasons you want to lose weight. Remember that my “why” in the beginning was to be more attractive and get noticed by the opposite sex. It was superficial but strong enough to change my life. Make sure they are clear and your feelings are attached to those “why”s. We are emotional creatures, and our emotions make us do incredible stuff. Without emotions we would be like robots — without motivation.
Why exercise is important
I am going to help you a little bit just in case you are unmotivated to exercise. Many people think that exercise is only for the narcissist and the metrosexual, or for those who can waste their time because they don’t have anything better to do or because they are successful and don’t need to spend as much time working as the majority. To dispel that last myth, the more successful people are, the busier they get and therefore the less time they have. However, they know that exercise has contributed to their success, and this is why they find time to exercise.
Let’s forget about being successful and think about being happy. The less people suffer the happier they are; the better they can cope with adversity the happier they are. Exercise helps with both.
Let’s talk about the whole human being and the basic needs for a higher quality of life. For example, you can survive without knowing how to read, but how far do you think you could get in your career? You would need someone to read important documents that you need to sign at all times. Of course, like I said, you could survive, but you would be missing out on a lot from life. Knowing how to read increases your quality of life. Just as with this example, each area that I am about to talk about will increase the quality of your life and happiness. You can live without them, but your life will not be the best, and you will be missing out.
First, we are spiritual beings living in a human body. To be in peace, get rid of stress, feel safe, know that everything will be okay, accept life for what it is, improve this world and ourselves, release our potential and leave a positive legacy in this world, we must maintain our spirit. Without a healthy spirit we cannot achieve anything I mentioned above, and we may look for destructive ways to achieve them. Doing the right thing, forgiving, meditating, being grateful and helping others are ways to maintain the spirit.
Second, we are also social beings. We need people around us for many reasons: support, acceptance, joy, comprehension, empathy, love, legacy and compassion. Family is the people we are closest to. We can maintain our family relationships by spending time with them talking, understanding their needs, letting them make their own decisions, supporting them and cooking together.
Third, health is part of our whole being. We are using a body that really does not belong to us. This body needs maintenance because it’s the only body you will get. If we don’t maintain it, we suffer from diseases, illness, pains, stress, mental problems, premature aging, overweight, fatigue and weakness. We can take care of our health by exercising, eating healthily and knowing how to manage stress.
Fourth, our purpose gives meaning to our lives. We have been made for something special and to serve people and the earth. Without a purpose our lives do not make sense. This is one of the reasons many people are lost trying to see how life make sense. Our profession defines our purpose. We spend more than 1/3 of our lives working, and work that fulfills our purpose makes our life more enjoyable. Studying, learning, helping others, creating, overcoming adversities are other ways to fulfill our purpose.
Fifth, we need the services and products of other people to progress, feel comfortable and survive. One of the ways we get these services and products is by exchange, and most of the time what we exchange is money. Money gives us freedom to continue with our purpose, improve our health, spend time with our loved ones and focus on our spiritual growth. We can take care of our finances by investing money, not wasting it on bad habits or useless products, supporting good causes with at least 10 percent of our income and not seeing money as our master but as our servant.
As I mentioned before, to have a fulfilling life and a high quality of life or to live a better life and be happier, we need to meet specific requirements. As you noticed, our health is part of those requirements, and exercise is one of part of health. I want to live my life to the fullest without limitations. Therefore, I see exercise as pleasure instead of pain.
Weighing your decisions
It is easy to get addicted to substances such as alcohol or any other drug and bad behaviors such as gambling or checking our phone every 5 minutes. And the reason is very simple. We are always looking for pleasure. But there are people who have tried drink, drugs and gambling and have a smart phone but don’t become addicted to any of these behaviors. The reason is because they have made conscious decisions about their pleasures and pains.
People who drink and continue drinking are looking forward to the pleasure alcohol brings. However, they usually do not think about the future consequences of alcohol use, such as problems with family, health, relationships, work and being overweight. If you think about food or exercise, there are similarities. We can go home and sit and watch TV all day, getting excited about the next TV series or game. But the truth is that because of that decision there are consequences such as body aging, gaining weight, and losing strength and stamina. If we choose to eat fast food or processed food, it is also for pleasure — the pleasure of convenience, of not cooking, of having more time (what is not clear to me yet is more time for what?).
On the other hand, those who eat healthily and exercise focus on the pleasure exercise and eating healthily will bring. Everyone knows that exercise is uncomfortable, many times painful and time consuming, but people who do exercise don’t focus on that. They focus on the results they are getting: a more attractive body, more energy, more strength, less illness and diseases, more independence, less aches and pains, lower fat percentage and an increase in self-confidence. People who cook are the busiest people, yet they manage to eat healthily. They cook not because they have plenty of time, they cook because they know their health, energy, performance and quality of life depends on it.
We always weigh our decisions depending on the pain or pleasure we perceive from one option compared to another. It all depends how you look at things, your beliefs and your past experiences.
Bring your future and past to your present
I have made many wrong decisions. They taught me to make better decisions next time. I used to drink, smoke, gamble, eat junk food, waste my time and simply play with life. Until I suffered a setback. It was so painful that I decided not to go through it again. Now I make better conscious decisions about my life. I use the pain from my past when I was in depression to motivate me to continue on the right path of good habits.
Think about your past, whatever it is: not fitting into an airplane seat, being called obese, not being able to fit in the clothes you used to or want to, not being able to run to catch the bus, being embarrassed when wearing a swim suit, suffering a heart attack, running out of breath when you play with your kids, or not being able to perform at work to your potential. Bring it to the present and feel the pain, so it can give you the motivation you’re looking for.
Just like I bring my past to the present, I do the same with my future. I picture who I want to be and who I don’t want to be. For example, I don’t want to have diabetes, be dependent on someone else, be unable to fit into the clothes I have fit in since I was 18 years of age, or be weak, defeated, sick or ill. I want to age gracefully, being strong, independent and healthy, with a young body, energetic and athletic until the last day of my life. When I think about this, I have the motivation to do my exercise no matter how difficult it seems or how busy I am. How do you paint your future?
Once we find our motivation and we are on fire to achieve our goal, we need something very important: a plan. Without a plan, it will be difficult to achieve a goal, no matter how motivated we are. And a plan starts with goal setting.
When I run I know how far I am running, why I am running, how long it’s going to take and what obstacles I may come across, and I plan milestones to make it easy. For example, I usually run 6 miles. I don’t focus on the goal, but half of the run, 3 miles. Then when I am returning, I focus on the upcoming dog park, then the first traffic light, then the second traffic light and the road close to my house. Keeping small milestones helps me to achieve my long-term goal.
It might be difficult to see yourself losing 100 pounds, but how about 5 pounds? If you target 5 pounds, even though you know that you need to lose 100 pounds, it looks easier. Now, when I am running, my focus is not on milestones but on the next step, how I feel, my self-talk, my dreams, or any other positive thought. Once you have set your long-term goal — 100 pounds — now you need your short-term goals — 5 pounds. After that you need to start working towards your 5 pound weight loss. What changes are you going to make? How many times a week are you going to walk and for how long? How many times a week are you going to work out and at what intensity?
Let me be more specific about goal setting: The first thing you need to know is why you are losing weight to wake up your ultimate motivation (I want to feel alive and find a partner). Second you need to set your long- and short-term goals (losing 100 pounds in 20 months and 5 pounds per month). Then you need your plan of action (what you are doing every day to achieve your goal): I am working out 3 times a week lifting weights; I am walking every day for 30 minutes; I am cutting all the processed foods; drinking only water, no alcohol; increasing my veggie intake to 50 percent; eating my breakfast; cooking at home; making time to eat and prepare my foods,\; no longer eating at fast food restaurants; eating fruits as snacks; and eating because I am hungry, not to cover emotions or stress.
Not all exercise delivers the same results. Any exercise is good and better than not exercising, but you need to be honest and realistic with yourself about how far you want to go. As soon as you start changing your habits for good ones, consider yourself healthy. You will achieve weight loss, but the question here is losing 100 pounds, 30 pounds or whatever your goal is. For instance, if you want to lose the weight only because you want to avoid a heart attack, like I said, by eating healthily you already are doing it. The 30 pounds will come off. Good goal. If you want to lose 10 pounds because you have clothes that no longer fit and you don’t want to buy bigger clothes, keep eating healthily and exercising, and once again, it will happen.
However, if you’re planning to tone your body, it’s a different process than losing weight. You need a specific plan, and the exercise that should be prescribed is not the same as the exercise for simply losing weight.
How far you want to go determines the exercise you should be performing. Running does help to lose weight, so does swimming and hiking, but you won’t be able to tone your body by doing just those activities. Also, lifting weight won’t tone your body unless you have a plan that helps you progress. A well-designed weight-lifting program will help you tone your body.
Dealing with problems and stress
Everything sounds easy: Find your “why,” get excited about exercising, set your goals, do the right exercise according to your goals, and take action. But the truth is I know you have a life and therefore problems: you lose your spouse, your children are sick, you lose your job, you lose your house, you lose your investments, you’re getting heart surgery, you’re not happy in your marriage, you’ve been arrested unjustly and many other possibilities. Get used to it. That is life. Everyone has problems and tragedies.
The issue here is not the problems but what decisions you are making and how you are reacting to these problems. You are going to have some winters and summers, bad times and good times. How resilient are you? Do you know where the problems are coming from? Can you continue with your life when tragedies happen? What do you do when things are not going as expected?
Here is when many people get divorced, stop having faith, have a heart attack, gain weight … Correct, here is when most people gain weight, because this is how they deal with stress. This is the reason your “why” should be powerful and present at all times.
Now I am not suggesting to ignore all your problems and focus all your energy on exercising and eating healthily. If your spouse died, of course you are going to be in a lot of emotional pain, but what good will it do just thinking about it without taking care of yourself? Of course, we are all human, and we need to grieve. But one day you need to get on your feet and continue living your life. Your life is not over, so continue with your goals. You had heart or knee surgery? Same thing: You need to recuperate from it, but once you are back to normal, you can’t live in the past and set yourself limitations. You need to continue moving forward and reaching your goals. When your children are sick, take care of them and make sure they get the best attention, but you need to take care of yourself as well.
Think about your life; there was not a single time when you had no problems. If you wait to lose weight until you are free of problems, you are going to be waiting all your life. Life is a cycle, and the cycle goes up and down hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and even every 7 years. Like I said, there will be good times and bad times. Sometimes you’re going to be up, and others you’re going to be down. You need to continue with your goals through it all.
There is only so much time during the day, and here is where you need to prioritize your values, including weight loss, if that’s important for you. I myself prioritize my life in 5 areas: God, family, health, profession and finances. I make sure I take care of these areas every day. I recommend you do the same and make sure that everything you are doing is improving the areas of your life that are important for you. And since you are here to learn about weight loss, I think you should put that in your priorities.
Once you learn how to deal with problems, you became bigger than your problems and know how continue moving forward. Weight loss will not be a problem for you anymore. The only thing you need to know is how to maintain your weight. This is very simple. Keep in mind something: For you to make $1 million a year, you need to become a $1 million person. For you to have a functional family of 7, you need to become a functional and great leader. For you be a successful heart surgeon, you need to become that person. Here is what I am saying: You can’t become a successful person just by being born. It takes hard work, dedication and discipline.
The same goes when you have achieved your ideal weight. You didn’t lose the weight because you took a magic pill, it was because of the work you put in that gave you the results. In other words, you must continue doing what you did to get where you are to maintain your ideal body weight. For example, if you’ve been lifting weights 3 times a week, walking 2 times a week for 30 minutes and eating healthily, that is exactly what you need to continue doing to maintain such ideal weight. Stick with these habits for life, and you will never have to deal with having those extra pounds.
Let’s go over the whole plan again: Find your “why,” get excited about exercise, set goals, take action, know how to deal with problems and stress because they will always be there, and just keep at it. That is all you have to do.