It's All About You!
Skipping meals, not exercising, too much fast food - there are lots of different reasons that Biggest Loser contestants wind up at the ranch. But the one thing they all have in common is prioritizing everyone (spouse, kids, friends) and everything (job, school, home) over themselves and their own health and well being. By the time they arrive at the ranch, they know they must put themselves first because their lives literally depend on that commitment.
Making a New Year's resolution to lose weight is easy - but keeping the commitment often seems impossible. Real life interferes day by day with our good intentions, and we just can't seem to find the time to plan meals, exercise or cook at home.
Whenever I begin to slip, I'm inspired by my experience on The Biggest Loser. The contestants who start Season 11 this week won't all make it to the final four - but they're all winners for not only committing to change their fundamental habits, but for setting aside significant time and resources to do so. They will live away from home, forgo social routines, and put their careers on hold in order to be at the ranch.
Season 10 winner Patrick House was unemployed and had to borrow money from family in order to stay afloat while he competed. Other contestants' family members often step in to help with housework and childcare while their loved ones are at the ranch.
You and I aren't putting our lives on hold for months - but the principle is the same: an investment of time and energy is vital to instilling healthy habits. More than following a specific eating or exercise regimen, resolving to invest in yourself in 2011 is the best pledge you can make.
The Biggest Loser contestants make a drastic commitment - but in the everyday world, moderate measures are in order. The key is to keep making that investment, day after day.
- Just say no! If ever there was a time to go minimalist with your social calendar, this is it. If that means not joining that new committee or signing your kids up for piano lessons right now, then so be it. You need to create the time and space to focus on the job at hand: losing weight and getting healthy!
- Pencil yourself in. Schedule your workout or exercise routine on your calendar, just as you would an appointment or event, and keep it. Do 200 to 300 minutes of cardio per week (or build up to it), and add strength training to strengthen muscles and boost metabolism.
- Plan healthy meals. There's a saying on the ranch: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." It's essential to schedule meals regularly throughout the day, plan for balanced nutrition, and anticipate and adapt to potential challenges, such as restaurant meals or parties. Making the effort to strategize takes an investment - but preventing unhealthy behaviors before they occur ultimately saves time that might be wasted feeling guilty after the fact.
- Keep a food journal. If you're not accountable for what you eat, you will not lose weight. It's that simple. It is imperative to keep track of the number of calories you take in (and burn off through exercise) each day, especially when you're just getting started. Writing down what you eat will also help you identify which foods work for you and which don't. And, perhaps most important, is knowing that you have to record every morsel and every sip you put in your mouth. It'll make you think twice before mindlessly munching on foods that can undermine your weight-loss efforts.
- Remove temptation, and plan healthy snacks. Being prepared when hunger strikes is half the battle. Clear the fridge and pantry of those unhealthy foods and snacks with little nutritional value. Just because the package says "100 calories" doesn't means it's a good choice. Many calorie-counted snack packs on the market are simply smaller servings of junk food. Prepare healthy snacks, such as vegetables and hummus, ahead of time. Keep a few non-perishable snacks in your purse or car for those times when you're running late or stuck in traffic.
- Phone a friend. Having a support network is also vital to helping you stick with your new diet and exercise regime. Find someone to work out with, or ask a friend to watch your kids so you can hit the gym, and do the same for him/her. You need to surround yourself with friends and family who will support you and your priorities. Weight loss is not a game of solitaire!
For more food and nutrition tips, check out Cheryl's blog.