As enticing as it is to think of the one big push.
Or major event. Or latest extreme diet that will transform your body – the unsexy truth is that success in the weight loss game (and I imagine in any aspect of life) is more a matter of those seemingly insignificant, at times tedious, little habits.
Here are 5 of my favourite success habits. I absolutely subscribe to them and observe them time and again in people who seem to stay fit and healthy easily.
It should and CAN be easy.
If staying in your best shape isn’t yet easy then it’s time to make these habits a part of your routine.
Yes, a little effort is involved. The results will be worth it.
Success Habit #1. The running tally.
This is simply a consciousness and volition you apply to your eating.
Rather than an extreme obsession with measuring scales and calorie counting OR a complete disregard for/happy ignorance of what you shovel down your throat – the running tally means you have a general awareness of your normal daily food intake and make adjustments accordingly.
So, if you find yourself hovering by the open fridge sneaking almond butter from the jar with a fork – as I did today – YOU,
A) Admit that just because your implement of choice is a fork, it still counts!
B) Recognize that this is unplanned fat in your day and make up for it by skipping the avocado on your salad tonight.
Success Habit #2. Anything beats nothing.
In part this habit relates to the benefit you will still receive from a 15 minutes intense work-out on the days you don’t have time for the full 45 minute session OR the extra upper body+core training that you do when a knee injury means your lower body work is limited.
Of even great value is the fact that something today makes something tomorrow so much more likely.
So, even if it’s only a measly 6mins on the stepper as it was for me after my weights training today – YOU,
A) Get to feel proud of yourself for keeping your commitment to yourself, rather than spending the whole day feeling disappointed that you let yourself down… and likely letting yourself down more with your food choices.
B) Will only find it easier to throw yourself back on the stepper… or into the pool… or onto the weights floor for perhaps even a little longer next time.
Success Habit #3. Consistent yet flexible routine.
A routine with both your structured and incidental exercise and also with your food planning and shopping is actually freeing.
It removes the “Will I, won’t I?” aspect of when to exercise… and eliminates that counterproductive ‘borrowing from tomorrow’ habit of always putting off your exercise to the tomorrow that often never eventuates.
It means you don’t have to deal with the self negotiation of “Can I get away with this?” when considering unplanned carb-and-fat-fest-meals. The flexibility comes in when something unpreventable jumps in the way of your ideal routine – a last minute super important client meeting / a weekend wedding / your gym closed on a public holiday.
So, if you’re out of town for a long weekend as I was recently – YOU,
A) Work out ahead of time what extra you can get done before you leave and what realistically you’ll still make happen while you’re away so that you still hit your ideal week quota of exercise.
B) Stick to your plan regardless of what other people are choosing with their own lack of exercise or food choices. The fact is ‘normal’ is now over weight and unfit. If you want to be fit, healthy and lean then your routine is not going to be a whole lot more extra-ordinary than ordinary.
Success Habit #4. Enjoy vices and indulgences.
Are you surprised at this one?
It’s just as vital when we’re thinking long term. I believe it is a natural human trait to be attracted to vice / to want to break the rules / to seek some uncertainty or variety. Perfect is not achievable let alone sustainable long term. My caveat is how you think of vices and indulgences.
If your vice is a bottle of wine a night it’s not going to work. However a glass a night likely will. If indulging to you is a weekend of cheat meals – starting with Friday night pizza and ice-cream and dragging your body through an “I deserve this after my great fuel all week” gobbling fest to finish with Sunday night cheese, crackers and chocolate then it’s not going to work.
What will work is smaller indulgences and vices sprinkled through-out your week because – YOU,
A) Know you can count on that little treat that is never too far away and as such you don’t need to resort to the all-out-binge-fest that always occurs after feeling restricted and deprived.
B) Keep your hormones happy by ensuring leptin levels don’t drop below baseline. Leptin is the hormone behind that scary and true line ‘the less you eat the less you have to eat.’ When you decrease your calorie intake for roughly only a week of moderate dieting leptin levels drop off significantly.
Low leptin = stalled fat burning.
When you strategically introduce a day of overfeeding (check out: How To Make Cheat Days Work For You) leptin rapidly reaches it’s baseline again.
Success Habit #5. Maximise the good. Minimise the less good.
Simply put, what you focus on will expand. I’ve saved the best to last. This is absolutely the most important success habit because it will make all the other habits easier.
How much easier is it to stick to your regular Friday am interval training when you focus on how happy you’ll feel when it’s done and how much you’ll love being able to feel confident wearing whatever you choose?
Versus, how tired/busy you are or how hard/boring intervals are…
Where is the value in focusing on the fact that you have a never-ending to-do list and exercise detracts from your opportunity to tick another work task off the list?
Versus, how lucky you are to be able-bodied enough to exercise at all and how you know making time to exercise actually makes you more efficient and effective at work.
When you encounter a seemingly UN-good situation see it as an opportunity to get creative and hunt down the good – YOU,
A) Will attract more good into your life when that is what you choose to focus on.
B) Will waste less energy focusing on stuff that makes you unhappy and is likely not within your ability to change anyway.
So, there you have it, 5 weight loss success habits.
Each absolutely worth the effort they take to master. If you’ll looking for some inspiration – check yourself out! I’m fairly certain that in what ever aspect of your life you currently excel – be it your career, as a parent/friend/partner or perhaps in a hobby/sport or with your faith – you will already be demonstrating these habits.
=> the running tally at work, means a little less time spent calling clients/creating content/marketing (whatever is in your top 20% of results delivering tasks) today means a little more time spent tomorrow.
=> anything beats nothing, means you forgot that important event for your child/friend/partner however you know a timely and genuine apology (and gift?!) is the far superior option to ignoring your stuff up!
=> consistent yet flexible routine in your hobby/sport, means no practice today equals double tomorrow – and you keep to it!
=> vices and indulgences at work, means you reward yourself for a goal achieved or even a productive days work.
=> maximise the good and minimise the less good, means you focus on the joy and love your little one brings to you life… even when you haven’t had a full nights sleep in 3 years.
As you can see ‘Success Habits’ are absolutely transferable from one to any aspect of your life.
What is your #1 personal success habit, that could be moulded to support your weight loss goal?