If you are aiming to improve your lifestyle through better fitness and weight management, the best way to achieve your goals is to build and good plan, and stick to it consistently. Be consistent!
The trouble with many diets that are on the market and heavily advertised on TV and in the press is that they are short term solutions. You may be able to stay with a certain diet for a certain length of time, but once you have reached your target weight, or once you can fit into the outfit you wanted to wear, the reason for continuing a diet can disappear, and at that point you can tend to go back to old habits and you may start to regain weight.
Rather than aiming for a short term solution, have medium term and long terms goals as well. Why aim to lose weight for an event in 2 months, when you could change your lifestyle to bring you better overall health, fitness and vitality in the long term? But for a change of lifestyle that will stick, you must be able to embrace it within your current life and commitments. In other words, it needs to be more than a cabbage soup diet or an exercise program that you will grow bored with after 2 or 3 weeks, and probably less than the exercise schedule of an Olympic athlete.
The keys to consistency are:
1. Be realistic about the changes you can make: There is little point in planning to go to the gym for 2 hours every day if you have a demanding job and family commitments. Instead, design a program of exercise around your commitments. Use the commute to work to cycle or run. Try to get to the gym during your lunch hour. There are ways in which we can better manage our time without adversely affecting other important aspects of our lives. If you are finding exercise interferes with your job or family time, consistency will be very hard to maintain.
2. Incorporate changes you enjoy: This really is crucial to consistency. It doesn’t matter how effective a nutrition program is, or how many calories you can burn doing a certain exercise, if you do not enjoy it, you will find it will be very hard to stick to it, or to carry it out consistently. Look at what you want to achieve, and then decide what type of activities you can do that you enjoy. Cardio exercise need not consist of hours on the treadmill. Try different activities such as swimming, cycling, or involve the family in kayaking or hiking. Use the opportunity to explore new and healthy foods. The more you enjoy your new lifestyle, and the more excited you are by the changes and the discoveries you make, the more likely you are to stick to it consistently.
3. Explore your motivation and goals: Look carefully at what motivates you and note it down. You might want to be healthier for the sake of your family, or you may be motivated by having a more balanced and healthy life. Discover what drives you at a fundamental level, and when your motivation starts to suffer, go back to your note and remember why you made positive changes.
Yo-yo dieting has been proven to be unhealthy for your body. 2 months on a program of exercise and nutrition and one month off will not bring you the best results. Consistency is the key to a healthy lifestyle that will last and give you the positive changes you want to your health, appearance and overall well being. Discover what motivates you, make a plan and stick to it. When your motivation levels are low, give them a boost by remembering what drives you, and look at your plan again so that you can refresh any aspects you are getting tired of, and replace them with more fun, and equally beneficial alternatives.
Martin Bolduc is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Express Fat Loss, winner of the Lean Body Challenge 2008, a natural bodybuilder and a personal trainer. To receive your Special Report on Weight Loss