6 Needs We Underestimate in a Weight Loss Journey
Sunday, February 1, 2015
LifeTime WeightLoss in Anika Christ, Lifestyle, Mindset, Sleep, Support, health assessments, recovery, routine, support, variety, weight loss journey

What do you need to be successful in long-term weight loss and body transformation?

Clearly, solid education about nutrition and fitness offer critical guidance. Personal support from loved ones and/or professional coaches is invaluable. 

Additionally, there are the logistical needs we so often underestimate - practices and tools that could play pivotal roles in our overall success. 

Read on for six of the needs we commonly misjudge and the resources we can engage to push our progress forward. 

A Need for Routine AND Variety

Establishing both a plan and a routine for healthy eating and activity are best practices when it comes to losing weight. Grocery shopping every Sunday and packing your gym bag every night before bed are two great examples of productive behaviors we need to practice to make them habit.

This said, don’t let your routines become mundane! Many of us make the mistake of eating the same meals over and over or doing the same workouts week after week. While we might be honing self-discipline, we likely won’t foster long-term success this way. 

Although repetition can make a choice seem easier, remind yourself that there are plenty of ways to eat and behave healthily. When coaching my clients, I usually help them design a 7-14 day rotation of foods/meals. This way, they can have a set grocery list each week, but there is plenty of variety. After a month or two of those rotations, we switch it up again with new meal ideas. 

You can do the same with workouts. For example, have structured strength training workouts each week, but throw some “just for fun” activity in there as well to keep your exercise from feeling like a chore over time.

Our Need to Recover

Sleeping, relaxation, stress management –  they’re all imperative for a weight loss journey! Unfortunately, many of us decide to only think about what we’re eating and what we’re doing for activity each day. Don’t underestimate the other lifestyle practices such as rest, meditation and massage that nourish your body. 

Much of the time, ignoring these needs can actually hamper your progress even if you’re eating and working out perfectly for weight loss. I’ve actually seen many clients decrease their sleep time in order to hit the gym early but subsequently create more stress for themselves when they are unable to hit unrealistic goals – not a good start to a weight loss journey! 

Instead, address your sleep routine by making sure you have the opportunity to get enough hours each night (7-8 hours for most of us), and research best practices around managing your stress. Try to think about these two points daily as you adopt your other new behaviors.

Our Need for a Really Good Multivitamin

All right, I’m a little biased on this one.  As a registered dietitian, I closely follow the food scene - from how it's grown to what ends up on the typical American’s plate.

In my coaching, I always take the “food first” and lifestyle modification approach. Without a doubt, however, I truly believe everyone needs to take a great multivitamin (along with an omega-3 supplement) every single day.  

In my work with clients, we talk about the importance of micronutrients and their role in hundreds of reactions related to metabolism. The education is a true eye-opener for most people!  

When we apply this knowledge as we assess their individual diets - how most of them aren’t getting 9-12 fruit and veggie servings (every single day) and how imperative the micronutrients found in those foods are for promoting optimal metabolism – taking a high quality multivitamin seems like a no-brainer. 

To boot, taking this kind of supplement is one of the only behaviors you can practice that will have a direct impact today! It doesn’t get much simpler than this. For these reasons, taking a high quality multivitamin and an omega-3 supplement are among the first behaviors I ask my clients to master – no matter what their goals are. This simple supplementation measure ensures their bodies are getting adequate nutrients on the back end to support their metabolism - and their weight loss efforts.

Our Need for Simplicity - with a Few Stretch Goals

A complicated plan can easily set us up for disaster. This is why our nutrition coaches and fitness professionals usually coach one habit at a time with their clients. Focusing on one thing and mastering it before the next challenge keeps things simple as well as focused, which ultimately sets you up most effectively for long-term success.  

When coaching my clients, my job is to identify what stumbling blocks are likely to impede their ability to create change in their lives and to help them remove these barriers on their way to success. 

I also think challenging my clients every so often has a huge ROI on their journeys, as it often shows how strong and powerful their inner spirits actually are. I like to call these challenges stretch goals – practices and behaviors to master for a short amount of time. They vary depending on the person. For some, having no alcohol for thirty days may seem daunting. For others, it might be going gluten free for two weeks.  

Whatever the case, assess all of the things you have changed so far on your journey, and decide if you are ready to incorporate some sort of challenge or stretch goal. Generally, a good time to begin these goals might be 8-12 weeks into your journey – a time when you have significant skin in the game, a handful of new habits under your belt, and enough experience (and confidence) to challenge yourself.

Our Need to Think Long Term

This is a tough one! This time of year especially, I’m reminded of how much our culture is still attracted to the “diet du jour” and other short-term solutions. Recently, an acquaintance on one of my social networks asked for recommendations between two “smoothie” based diets. I was astounded to see all of the responses from people who had tried these, who thought both programs were expensive, and who experienced results along with the regain (and more) after stopping them. 

To create genuine, lasting success, we must lose the short-term thinking and align oursleves with a long-term vision. Wouldn’t it be nice one day to always feel fit and be camera or skinny-jean ready? Wouldn’t it be nice to not spend money on dieting tricks and, instead, use your money wisely on foods and resources that helped you maintain your health?  

As you begin and progress throughout your weight loss process, it’s imperative to remind yourself that it is a journey. You’re not going to lose weight overnight. (Keep in mind you didn’t gain it overnight either.…) 

The goal will always be continuing to send the right signals to your body and to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long haul. Short term thoughts and desires will set you up for disaster. 

In the first months of the year (and as we head toward “bikini season”), you’re going to see all sorts of advertisements for the latest weight loss solutions. Remind yourself that every long-term success story out there does it the old-fashioned way – eating healthily and exercising regularly. Stop trying to lose weight, and instead focus on adopting behaviors that support a healthy, energetic life.

Our Need for Assessments and Re-Assessments

There are a multitude of different health and fitness assessments. These might include subjective assessments of dietary and exercise habits, health questionnaires or goal setting sessions. They could also be objective measures, including metabolic testing through blood chemistry, respiratory analysis or salivary data.  

I think both objective and subjective measures are necessary at the beginning and during a weight loss journey. As the saying goes, you can’t change things you don’t track! Having data in the beginning not only shows a clear image of what’s going on but should also reveal the measures you and your coach need to track during your journey.  

Many people start with the scale – using one number as the sole focus and then track against that number to show their progress throughout the journey. Because so many factors impact that number, I’ve never been a fan of the scale. Body composition is by far the better measure in this regard. 

That said, a bigger and better picture of what’s going on will always be blood chemistry. Your blood will never lie and will always show us if your health is improving for the better (or worse). Likewise, it will uncover any physiological barriers that could be curtailing your success. Work with a coach and choose the measures that are important for you (e.g. fasting insulin, body fat percentage, 5K pace, waist circumference, etc.). Make sure you have a starting point (“baseline”) on record, which will allow you to assess how far you’ve come. The comparative data can help you problem solve and help motivate you as you see in black and white terms just how far your journey has taken you!

Thanks for reading. Are you getting the proper support for your weight loss and transformation journey? Talk with our professional staff today about how we can help you on the way to your goals. 

In health, Anika Christ – Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

Article originally appeared on LifeTime WeightLoss (http://www.lifetime-weightloss.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.