By now, most of us get the gist of dieting: Over-indulgence is bad, exercise and unprocessed foods are good. However, as a person who has made a career out of maintaining appearances, I can say with absolute certainty that it takes far more than these basic principles to achieve long-term success. The No. 1 catalyst to a derailed fitness plan is the failure to maintain an environment of unfaltering support. Follow these guidelines to help ensure that you set the stage for 2011 to be a year of real transformation.
Live out loud
Transparency with your goals not only helps solidify personal commitment but rallies those around you to offer additional motivation and support. Be specific about your goals: Do you want to wear the size that you first wore when you got married? Or perhaps you want to run a 5K?
Surround yourself with support
Join social groups both locally and online because people with like-minded goals will help reinforce good behaviors and minimize bad ones. Accountability and acceptance from our peers can be powerful tools. In this day and age, an online community like Bodyspace puts motivation and support right at your fingertips.
Hold yourself accountable
It’s great to have a friend standing by, ready to slap that doughnut out of your hand in a moment of weakness. But your pal cannot always be there to rescue you. Keeping a journal to track your food intake is crucial. If you find this process too time-consuming, there is no easy answer. You earn the body that you’re willing to work for: No journal, no personal accountability. And if you have no personal accountability, it’s like pulling a loose thread on your sweater — it’s just a matter of time before it all unravels.
There really is no such thing as a “perfect plan.” Life is unpredictable and the best we can do is to anticipate obstacles and create strategies for coping with them. If picking up your child from school suddenly turns into a two-hour parent/teacher conference, you could end up famished. If you commit to carrying food (like nuts and low-fat string cheese) with you at all times, you won’t cave to the temptation to make a quick stop for fast food on the way home.
Be a role model
There is no better way to justify a commitment to your goals than to tie them to the ones that you love. As a matter of fact, instead of telling people that you are following a fitness program so you can wear a bikini for your anniversary, tell them that you want to be a healthy role model for your children, or maybe for an obese friend. Perhaps your entire 2011 fitness plan can focus not on you, but on someone else. Be their rock. Make food with them, check in on them daily and exercise together. As a side-effect, you will enhance your own commitment to health and get in shape.
Try to stay in the moment and tackle each day one at a time. Set small milestone goals, like fulfilling your gym commitment for an entire week or just making it through the day without missing a meal or over-indulging. Every single day is an opportunity to make a decision that either supports or defeats your goals. No individual is perfect, so expect setbacks, but stay committed to having more good days than bad. Focusing on your immediate needs instead of major long-term goals will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
For more health and fitness tips for the New Year, visit www.jamieeason.com.