There are many, many reasons why people aren’t successful in achieving their fat loss goals. I am going to cover the most common reasons why people fail and I will also suggest some strategies you can use to overcome these limitations.
However, before we go any further, I want to suggest one more major misconception people have about weight loss. I am sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but your genetics are not the reason you are having a hard time losing fat. You also likely do not have a slow metabolism (at least by medical standards) and you are not naturally big boned (there is no such thing).
So please, stop making excuses and acknowledge that your body most likely looks the way it does due to your lifestyle choices. Once you accept this, you can move on to the next step, which is addressing your readiness for change.
I want to start off by saying that if you are not truly ready to change, it won’t matter how much knowledge you have, or how great your plan is, or even how small and easy your new habit is, because you won’t end up sticking to it. Being ready for change requires commitment, consistency, preparation, flexibility and the willingness to accept responsibility for your behaviour.
Even if you are someone who enjoys and embraces change, the initial adjustment period is always going to be difficult because so much is unknown. Humans are creatures of habit and when we don’t know what lies ahead, we get anxious, nervous and scared.
These feelings are normal, so acknowledge them and maybe even write down what you fear the most. Are you scared of failure or success? Are you nervous that your relationships might change? Are you experiencing discomfort due to lack of control? Are you worried about what people will think?
Being aware of your fears and anxieties will help you to move past these feelings in a productive manner and enable you to focus on actually making the change. Once you are ready to make a change, the best piece of advice I can give is to take baby steps.
Ease your way into your new lifestyle slowly. Research shows that when people try to make even just two changes at once, they are only 35% likely to be successful. However, if you stick to one change at a time, your odds of success shoot up to 85%. So start focusing on one small, easy habit and commit to that habit 100%.
I even take it one step further and advise my clients to chose the easiest habit I can think of as long as its in line with their goals. Remember, confidence build success. Then, once you have incorporated a single habit into your life for two or three weeks, you can incorporate another one. Don’t try to do it all at once because chances are, you will fail.
Even when I start to diet down for a competition, I don’t jump into a new style of eating all at once – I ease my way into it. Each month, my diet slowly gets stricter and my body and mind are able to ease into the challenge gradually (and prepare for what comes next) because it is happening at an acceptable, almost indiscernible pace. This way I stay physically healthy and mentally sane.
The second crucial piece of advice regarding adhering to your new plan is to shape your environment for success. Making a lifestyle change is hard enough, so don’t make it harder on yourself by testing your willpower at every turn. Remember, willpower (the act of self control) is finite.
This is one of the reasons that most people tend to blow their diets in the evening. You may not even be aware that you are depleting your willpower throughout the day. Resisting the candy bowl at work, not yelling at your kids, standing up to your boss, finding motivation to make it to the gym…all of these things use up your willpower so that at the end of the day it becomes very, very hard to resist temptation.
My advice is, don’t try. Set up your environment in a way that makes it easy to succeed. Don’t keep treats or junk food in the house. Go to bed half an hour early so you don’t snack in front of the TV. Lay our your workouts clothes before you go to bed.
Set up a basement gym so that working out is convenient for you. Keep your fridge stocked with healthy meals ahead of time. Enlist support from your family and friends and enlist support beforehand so that they don’t sabotage your efforts. Help yourself by setting up your environment for success.
The third piece of advice is to take some time to learn your weaknesses and make them work to your advantage. For example, if your limitation is that you lack social support, do something about it. Engage your partner and get them excited about your new lifestyle. If its your friends that are sabotaging your efforts, make some new, healthier friends.
If you have a hard time fitting your workouts in, then break your workouts into mini fitness sessions throughout the day or schedule them into your calendar along with all of your other appointments. If you are having a hard time getting motivated, join a sports team or hire a coach to write your nutrition and training plan for you.
As you can see, there are many ways to work around your limitations, but you need to be aware of them so that you can build a sound strategy to deal with them.
Finally, if all else fails, don’t underestimate the power of distraction. Humans are not as good at multi-tasking as most people think they are. Distraction is a powerful tool you can use to divert your attention away from something unhealthy (like junk food, a craving or a bad habit) towards something more positive (like taking a bath, reading a book or going for a walk).