You’ve arrived at the final installment of a 5 part series on the missing ingredient to all your weight loss efforts. If you’ve missed any of the other posts, you can find them here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. We’ll put it all together and make sure you don’t give up on weight loss!
Hey, foxy ladies 🦊! Welcome back to the series on getting fit once and for all.
We’re makin’ it stick for good this time!
We’ve covered a lot of ground and I want to tie it all together here in this final post of the series.
We Suck At Staying Fit
It’s likely that for the past few decades, if not your entire adult life (and even before that) you’ve tried to lose weight and/or get fit 🏃♀️.
And maybe you’ve succeeded a time or two, only to eventually go back to your old ways. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.
The facts are there for you to see. Losing weight (getting and staying fit) can feel impossible. Not because the mechanism is difficult to understand or theoretically difficult to adhere to.
But because our brains and biology work against it. Our bodies want to eat and keep eating to store fat for the famine times! IT’S THE WAY WE’RE MADE.
Just accept it and learn to work with it. We crave sugar, fat, and salt.
It’s why all those convenience and fast foods are engineered to be hard to resist. They’re really just giving us what we want.
Or what our brains want, anyway.
Mind, Beliefs, Habits
The number one reason you want to give up on weight loss and overall health is in your mind. You habits. Your beliefs.
Yes, of course what you eat and how you move are vitally important. But your mind and thoughts are what makes this all work (or not work), and work for good.
Back in the day, we just all thought and believed that you eat less and move more. That’s absolutely true as far as it goes.
But if it were truly that easy everyone would be fit and healthy.
In fact, even if that were perfectly true and there were no other factors (such as metabolism, current weight, age, hormones, stress levels, etc), just knowing “eat less move more” wouldn’t make it magically happen.
Not even close.
First, you have to unlearn a bunch of stuff and learn some new stuff.
You have to have a desire to change, and a belief that you can. A deep-down belief.
This is where tying your health behaviors to your core values is crucial.
Beyond this, you need to establish new habits, and probably (almost certainly) replace old ones that aren’t pointing in the right direction.
Problem is, healthy habits are pretty hard to stick to, because they go against our biology and nature.
How And What You Eat
It’s true that when most of us were young, we just plain didn’t eat as much. Portion sizes were smaller and we didn’t find the huge variety of processed food tempting us that we do now.
In addition, we didn’t have a jillion labor-saving devices or screens 💻to watch. Now we just plain move less.
You already know all of the above. And yet you don’t practice it.
This needs to change.
How? You’re going to change the way you do things. First and foremost you have to believe that you can do it. You have to be your own best cheerleader, your own coach.
Change Your Thoughts
You need to stop thinking crap like this: “Why do I even try? Every time I go on a diet (try a new exercise program, attempt to eat only between certain hours) I fail. What’s the use?”
Well, maybe you’ll still blab on like that sometimes. But you’ll learn how to overcome that stuff. These are just thoughts 💡; you don’t have to believe them.
Remember, your brain 🧠 wants you to stay safe, which means stay. the. same. Don’t try anything new! Your brain doesn’t want to work too hard!
But instead of repeating the same old tired thoughts, you’re going to practice new thoughts and new behaviors.
Oh, and did I mention your brain will protest?
Tell you “This is stupid. Why would you ever think this dumb thing is going to work? Have a cookie 🍪. Think about this tomorrow.”
But guess what? You don’t have to believe this thought. It’s just that. A thought. It doesn’t mean anything until you give it meaning. Just tell your brain, “Hey, thanks for trying to help!”
Practice your new thought. Don’t be fooled…it will take practice. No one ever said this would be a piece of cake 🧁.
But what’s different now is, instead of grinding through another diet only to fail again, this time you’re going to focus your effort on flipping stat script 📜.
So what if you asked a weight loss expert, “what do I really need to do to lose weight and be healthy?” Here’s what she might tell you, “eat fruits 🍓 and vegetables 🥦 in relative abundance, get exercise most days, get enough sleep at night.”
You’d probably say, “yeah, no duh,” or perhaps something a bit more colorful.
Knowing what to do isn’t the problem. Learning how to convince yourself to DO these things long term is the only way.
And doing that without making yourself absolutely miserable in the process. Because making yourself crazy always works, right?
Don’t You Just Need More Motivation?
In a word, no.
Because it’s not that you aren’t already motivated. But motivation only takes you so far.
Same for willpower and iron-willed discipline. Those tactics are hard to stick with.
They start big and thrilling and new, but after a (very) short while, and a large dose of real life, things get old, fast.
What you need, foxy lady, is desire, strong belief, values, habits, and a plan.
After desire and belief, your values are the most important aspect of the journey because they are what will keep you going when things get tough.
Your habits are the glue that holds everything together.
And your plan? That’s how your values and habits work together to get you to your goal…the goal isn’t a certain number on the scale or a certain size to your biceps.
Your goal is lifelong health and fitness.
Getting to a place in your life where healthy habits are nearly effortless because, well, habits!
When your health behaviors become habits, you don’t have to expend much effort to achieve the things that support your ultimate values.
How Much You Move
Lastly, lady, you gotta move. Yes, that means exercise. It’s just not an option to skip exercise if you’re over 50. This includes weight bearing cardio exercise, and weight lifting 🏋️♀️.
You don’t have to use super heavy weights, and you don’t have to (in fact, you almost certainly can’t) get big muscles.
But you must exercise. I’ve written elsewhere about the importance of exercise, really anytime in your life, but it’s crucial if you’re over 50.
Think you don’t have time to add exercise into your life?
You know I’m going to say that you don’t have time NOT to add it.
But think of this as well: long, boring stints on the treadmill are not what you need.
You need shorter, more intense cardio exercise, along with strength training at least twice a week.
For like, 30 minutes each session!
Even I can fit that in, and I work full time plus write stuff here!
You can even break up the 30 minutes into a few 10-minute routines.
Of course moving even more than that is important; you need to stay flexible with stretching, and just plain getting outside and moving more is always good.
But you have to start somewhere.
You Can Be Successful In Your Health Goals
It takes strategic planning, and most importantly, focusing on the right things. Not this or that diet or exercise program, but your values, habits, and beliefs.
Once you have those three lined up, then you can focus on what you eat and how you move. It really doesn’t matter if you want to eat vegan, you’re a meat eater, or you want to limit your carbs (though that’s not my recommendation).
As long as you’re eating mainly healthy, whole foods in reasonable portions, you can’t go wrong.
Same goes for exercise. Expend enough energy and get both cardio and strength training in sufficient quantity, and you’ll be good.
As with everything, if you’re just starting out you’ll ease into either the eating or the exercising, but you’ll be making progress nonetheless.
Your habits will be transformed, you’ll be living in sync with your core values, and you will be unstoppable! You’ll never give up on your weight loss efforts again.
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