You might be surprised by this, but in my opinion when it comes to successful long-term fat loss I don’t think the most important factors are willpower, avoiding carbs like the plague, or having a military-like accountability buddy. No, I think the absolute key to achieving lasting lifestyle changes is knowing your WHY (i.e. the deeper reason why you want to accomplish your goals).
In the PM women’s weightlifting/nutrition programs that I run I always urge the girls to think about the reason why they want to achieve the goals they set for themselves at the start. Their answers are often very similar –they want flatter stomachs and more definition. Okay, fair enough (I mean, don’t we all?!), but then I ask them why they want that? What about having those things will enhance their lives?
We are all motivated by different things – there is no one size fits all here. Maybe you’re trying to make better lifestyle choices because you want to set a good example for your children. Or maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with a medical condition as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and you want to make sure you’re actually around for your children and grandchildren (that’s a huge why!).
Maybe you have this little black dress you’ve always wanted to wear for the holidays, but never felt confident in. Or maybe you’re just sick and tired of not being able to find clothes that fit in high street shops.
If someone asks you why you go to the gym/eat healthy and your response is: “because I want to lose weight,” that’s only the first part of the sentence. In order to really hone in on your why, you have to finish the sentence.
“I want to lose weight, because _______.”
It’s that second part of the sentence that really makes the difference on those days when you just can’t be bothered to turn up to your gym session. It’s that extra little reminder for the days when you’re reaching for the office cake tray even though you have a protein bar in your bag.
The second part of your sentence is the key, because it’s the part that actually matters deep down. If you say your goal is simply to have a flatter stomach, that reason can often not be enough to keep your head in the game. You know, when you just think sod it – I don’t actually care about having abs today, I’m having this cake!
However, if you’re reaching for the cake and you remember the actual reason you’re trying to make changes is because you haven’t been on a date in three years and you promised yourself you’ll start dating again when you feel more confident. Surely that deeper reason WHY will help you refocus and make the best choice for you in that moment, right?
So once you’ve taken some time to hone in on your why, it’s time to time to add some daily reminders for yourself. Write your WHY down on a piece of paper or post-it note and put it somewhere you will see it frequently (on your computer screen, in your car, as your phone background). For extra motivation, underneath your why write down how you will feel once you achieve it.
Each time you see your little note, take a minute to visualize what your life will be like when that why has become your reality. Soak it all in!
And most importantly, remember that making long-term lifestyle changes is a journey. It will not look like a straight line from A to B, but rather a series of ups and downs that will eventually lead you to where you want to be. Don’t think of your days as successes and failures, but instead remember that each day you do your best you will be putting yourself that little bit closer to achieving your goal!