How many times have you found yourself repeating this scenario: It's January 1st, or the first day the kids are back in school, or maybe just a random Sunday in April and you tell yourself "That's it! I'm starting tomorrow." And you find yourself "the perfect" meal plan, and promise yourself that you'll stick to it 100%, and you'll get to the gym or hit the pavement 5 days a week. Of course you're kicking that soda habit. No question about that. There will be no more snacking at night. And -water. You will of course start drinking a gallon of water a day- starting tomorrow. You remember your friend lost a lot of weight cutting out sugar so sugar's getting kicked to the curb too. And what about carbs? You're always reading online about how carbs make you fat. So no carbs.
You pack your gym bag before bed, ready to hit the ground running tomorrow. You were hoping to get to bed early because you know about the connection between fat-loss and a good night's sleep, but you'll have to start your early bedtime tomorrow because you got side tracked reading an article about fasted cardio and decided to google it to make sure you were doing it right when you started doing it in the morning.
Monday morning dawns and you blaze through your fasted cardio, feast on your egg whites and a few almonds, and grab your home-made lunch for work. No more dining out for you! You make it through the entire day without a single soda, refined carb, or pinch of sugar crossing your lips! After work you polish off your gallon of water, do a 30 minute ab class at the gym and get the whole family out for an after-dinner walk around the neighborhood. You want to hit 10,000 steps on your new step tracker so it's a looong walk. After you get the kids to bed you pack your lunch for tomorrow and drag yourself to bed, feeling tired, but victorious! That feeling of victory doesn't last for long though as you realize you have to get up and do it all again tomorrow.
By Wednesday you're so sore you can't get off the toilet, you're so hangry the entire family is steering clear of you and your caffeine-withdraw headache is pounding louder than your heart during your cardio session. Friday comes and you hit snooze on your alarm, planning on getting in some extra cardio at lunch instead. Lunch! You forgot to pack your lunch and there's no time to do it this morning. You're actually so late you find yourself shoving half-eaten Eggo waffles in your mouth as you hurry everyone out the door. Unfortunately in your rush you leave your gym bag sitting on the kitchen counter. No lunchtime workout for you. At lunch you figure "eh, I already messed up at breakfast, I might as well eat whatever I want now. I'll get organized over the weekend and restart fresh Monday." This, of course, is your cue to bring on every food and drink you had banned all week!
Maybe you do restart Monday and make it a few more days or even weeks before burning out. Or maybe you put off restarting for another time, when you can get things just right. Of course- there is no such time.
I realize that this is a little exaggerated, but you get the idea and recognize the pattern I'm talking about, right? Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? It doesn't work (or at least it rarely works.) We find ourselves losing and regaining the same few pounds over and over again. Besides, it's exhausting and discouraging. Why do we have to be so extreme in our approach to fat-loss?
What if we tried it a different way? Fair warning: this isn't going to sound as exciting as a "14-day fix" or "get summer abs now" approach. What is exciting though is that it works and most importantly, the results last. It's called the One Change Method. This is something I kind of just accidentally started doing myself a few years back. I recently read an article by Jill Coleman over at www.jillfit.com (She writes about all kinds of cool fitness mindset stuff.) Reading this article put a name to exactly what I'd been doing, namelessly (and successfully) for the last few years.
It is exactly what the name suggests. Instead of diving in head first and changing everything at once we make one change at a time. Once that change has become an automatic part of our lives, we make another change, and then another. We continue to make changes one at a time until we have a whole host of positive habits that are automatic parts of our lives. The effects of these habit changes can really add up!
My experience with the One Change Method went like this: I started out weight-training 5 days a week. Then I decided I would eat sweets only on the weekend and in moderate amounts.( buh-bye family sized bags of peanut M&M's) Next I upped my protein intake. Cutting out processed food came after that. Eventually I focused on increasing the amount of water I drank daily, logging my food, adding in sprint training, and a whole slew of other changes. I lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle in all the right places, completely transforming my body. On top of the aesthetic changes I am just plain healthier and more energetic.
There are a few keys to making the One Change Method work:
1. Start by choosing changes that will give you the most bang for your buck. We all want to see progress, so we want to pick something that will help us see those results. I'll list some suggestions at the end of this article.
2. Be patient. Give yourself time to make one change be truly automatic before adding in the next one. The automaticity is what makes the changes stick. When you don't have to use a lot of mental energy or willpower to complete the task that's your clue to pick another change to make.
3. Realize that the time it takes to make a change automatic will vary from person to person and from one change to another.
Changes to Consider:
-Eat mostly 1 ingredient, whole foods (i.e. Chicken breast, Apple, sweet potato)
-Begin strength training 2-4 times a week.
-Ditch highly processed food.
-Use a calorie calculator such as caloriecalculator.net to set a starting point for your daily calories based on your goals. (Remember this is just a starting point, you can always adjust later if you're not losing pounds or inches or are losing too fast.) Use a tool such as My Fitness Pal or Lose It to log your food and keep track of your calories.
-Track your steps using a step tracker. Work your way up to 10,000 steps a day.
-Eat lean protein and non-starchy vegetables at every meal.
I know it can be scary to try a new approach to fat loss. Remember though, the old way will always be there. You can choose to go back to it whenever you want. I think you'll find that if you truly give the One Change Method a try and are consistent and patient your results will convince you that you don't need the old way. So, give it try and let me know how it goes! Comment below and tell me what change you want to implement first. If you need assistance choosing, I'm happy to help!
I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.