MAN 37 – 0 FAT … We’re two weeks in, and we’re already over a third of our way towards our initial league weight loss goal. Great work, fellas!
Many of you are already on the right track – you’ve been able to make some small and simple changes that have led to successful weight loss. It’s so important at this stage that you record what is working for you. As some of you mentioned, it can be easy losing the first few kilos, but as time goes by the weight loss starts to plateau. Others have found the first couple weeks a little more challenging (and, perhaps, frustrating) – that’s totally fine. It can take a little while to get into the swing of things when it comes to weight loss.
Whether you’re finding it tough now, or you face a plateau in the near future there are plenty of things you can do:
Review: you can revisit what you’ve been eating, what activity you’ve been doing, and set a new goal for the week. Most importantly, you’ll want to plan ahead – and while doing so, think about some of the obstacles that tend to crop up. Physical activity and healthy eating are surprisingly complex behaviours. They are not like brushing your teeth, which by this stage (I hope) is likely to be so ingrained in your life that you don’t even realize you’re doing it, it takes no effort at all.
However, if you don’t have a well built in habit for regular physical activity, then you’ve got a fair bit of inertia you need to overcome. The same goes with healthy eating – meal prep (Beginner's guide to meal prep), calorie-restriction, label-reading, shopping, there’s actually a rather substantial skill-set you need to develop.
GROW… an acronym commonly used in health and performance coaching is GROW: Goals, Reality, Options, and Way forward. Usually this framework is used in conversation between a coach and client – I’m more than happy to sit down and work through your goals if you want the help. Having someone to bounce ideas off can help provide a sense of accountability, commitment, and self-efficacy. However, you can just as easily work through this process yourselves.
Goals… At this stage, we’ve all no doubt heard that goals need to be SMART – specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and time-bounded – but that’s not entirely true. With complex behaviours, setting specific goals can be too restrictive, and can be demoralizing when you fail to hit specified targets – but it’s completely up to you. A general goal to “Be regularly physically active” may work for you, or you may prefer to lock in specifics.
My goals are a part of who I am (or want to be)… Goals work when they closely align with our values and our sense of who we see ourselves as. A recent article published by Janna Dominick and Shana Cole demonstrated that when people think of the goals they set as identities, they are more likely to engage in goal-consistent behaviour. In other words, if you view yourself as a healthy-eater, or a physically active person, you are more likely to eat healthily or engage in physical activity, for three reasons: forming goals as identities (a) makes goal pursuit easier, (b) increases effort towards attaining the goal, and © decreases obstacles towards achieving the goal.
Reality… Setting goals that are important to us energizes our behaviour towards achieving the goal, but it is also important to take stock of where we are now, and where we want to be. This can help us reformulate goals to make them realistic and attainable. If you’re currently only finding time to exercise once a week at game nights, then setting the goal of running 5 times a week may not be entirely appropriate right off the bat. Instead, working your way towards such a goal in increments is more likely to give you positive experiences, allowing you to gradually build your self-efficacy and confidence, and over time you can develop and add to your goals as you make progress.
Options… Goal pursuit requires creativity and innovation. If what you’re currently doing isn’t working, you need to find novel ways to bring about a desired result. Brainstorm a variety of ways to achieve a goal, and always try to make it fun. Important at this stage of the planning process is to think about things than can get in the way of you achieving your goals. Simple things like bringing your exercise gear to the office might serve as a physical reminder to exercise. Packing food to bring to work can alleviate some of the temptation to buy lunch. You can download apps that send regular reminders, you can leave post-it notes on your fridge, work-desk, in the bathroom mirror. Although these methods sometimes fade in effectiveness – eventually, the post-it notes blend into the background – they can help you kick-start new behaviours. It’s easy to forget our goals on a day-to-day basis, if they aren’t already well-ingrained behaviours.
Way forward… Once you’ve planned out a variety of options and planned to deal with obstacles, it’s important to make a choice – how do you plan to move forward? What is most appealing to you, should be the option you choose.
See you all tomorrow, gents!