Featured YourWorkoutBook.com contributor and Toronto-based personal trainer Kathleen Trotter discusses some tips and guidance for creating weight loss and fitness goals that actually work. Besides being a personal trainer, Kathleen lives her advice, having completed 10 (count ’em!) marathons, an Ironman (well, Ironwoman to be more accurate) and 7 half Ironmans. You can also find her on Twitter.
Grand weight loss promises like, “lose 12 pounds this month. Fast! Safe! For good!” are ubiquitous within health and fitness magazines. They imply that everyone can, and should lose 12 pounds this month. News flash —
Losing 12 pounds per month is not a safe and realistic goal for everyone. The closer you are to your ideal weight, the harder it will be for you to lose three pounds per week.
A heavier male may easily lose three pounds per week, but a smaller woman will have a hard time losing three pounds per week. This is especially true if she has already lost a considerable amount of weight, or has always been a healthy weight.
Obviously, I strongly believe everyone should exercise, but exercise should not be synonymous with weight loss. Lots of people should exercise without the intention of losing weight. Some people are thin and weak. What they need is to gain muscle. Others may have already lost weight. To lose another 12 pounds might be unhealthy. The amount of weight one needs to lose has to be understood as relative to where you start.
Statements that imply that losing 12 pounds per month is realistic set many people up for failure — often when people don’t reach their goals, a negative domino effect can occur. They revert back to the unhealthy habits they were trying to move away from.
To lose 12 pounds in a month means losing three pounds per week, which is a lot. For long-term, sustainable weight loss I usually recommend my clients aim to lose between half a pound and two pounds per week.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone who is aiming to get healthier is to set yourself up for success by abandoning unrealistic goals. Miracle diets may be enticing, but they don’t work in the long-term. Establishing healthier habits is a marathon not a sprint.
Take the time to set yourself up for success by:
1. Establishing realistic, specific and measurable goals. Determine what your healthy weight would be based on your height, age, gender and fitness history.
2. Focus on becoming stronger and more fit, not just weighing less.
3. Establish a support network: get an exercise buddy, tell your friends and family about your goals and/ or join fitness related social groups.
4. Outline a detailed plan of action: write your goals down and keep track of your progress.
5. Establish a positive internal dialogue. If you do have setbacks don’t feel guilty and beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes and move forward!
Lastly, remember that the faster the number on the scale decreases, the more likely the weight you lose is muscle or water, not fat. It is challenging and time consuming to lose 12 pounds of fat. Twelve pounds of muscle and water is easier to lose, but will not change your body shape as drastically. All weight loss is not created equal. In addition, when you lose muscle your metabolism decreases which makes it more likely that when you put the weight back on you will replace the lost muscle with fat, which simply makes it harder to lose weight in the future.
Care about fat loss, not just the weight on the scale!