In the delirium of New Year’s inspiration (and New Year’s binge drinking), you promised yourself that this year, you’re going to make a fresh start. You’re going to stop just talking about losing weight – this year, you are going to make sure it happens.
But now that the parties are over, the countdown’s complete and the year has officially begun, the pressure to actually start acting on those resolutions is on…pressure that, more often than not, leads to procrastination, that leads to escapism, that leads to passivity, that leads right back to the very bad health habits that you vowed you’d get away from. But old habits die hard. And so another unhappy year goes by in which you’ve wasted another opportunity to make the changes you want in your life. You’ve let yourself down once again, passively settling for a reality that doesn’t make you happy.
Why does this happen so often to so many of us? According to Tom Venuto, expert fitness trainer and renowned fat loss coach, it’s because most of us don’t realize that it’s not our conscious mind that’s in control of our actions, as most people assume. It’s actually our subconscious mind that ultimately determines our actions in life. The subconscious mind doesn’t “think”; rather, it simply responds to information that is repeatedly fed into it, whether that information is true or false, reasonable or illogical, constructive or destructive, positive or negative. And while we have the best of intentions when it comes to the kind of thoughts, self-talk and attitudes we have regarding weight loss, we unwittingly allow our subconscious to work against us when we focus on all of the negative thoughts, fears, challenges and obstacles that we naturally dwell on when trying to achieve our weight loss goals.
Research Shows: Your Greatest Fears Become Your Reality
“The more you dwell on what you don’t want, the more of it you create,” says life-coach and author Louise Hay. A psychology theory known as “the self-fulfilling prophecy” states that we become what we think of. Whatever you think of most of the time will unconsciously move you toward the achievement of that thought – whether or not it’s an outcome you consciously desire or not. This is why repeating passive and self-defeating thoughts to yourself like “I can’t lose weight no matter what I do…why is it so hard for me to lose this weight?…I have a slow metabolism…I don’t have the willpower to get lean…it’s not my fault I don’t have good genetics…I hate being fat…I wish I could get rid of my blubber…I can’t get myself up that early to work out…it’s impossible to stay away from the foods I love…with my schedule, healthy eating and exercise aren’t likely…losing weight is really hard…I can’t…I don’t know if I can do this but I’ll try…” winds up instructing our subconscious mind to make these negative statements true. Believe it or not, your subconscious actually has the power to turn your worst fears into your reality, keeping you stuck in the very place you despise and preventing you from moving toward your dreams.
That’s why it’s so important for you to take conscious control over your internal dialogue and program your subconscious brain with positive goals. If you want to be successful in losing body fat, you must take control of your communication with yourself and gear your thoughts for success instead of failure.
Years and years of habitually cluttering your mind with negative self-talk will likely make this process challenging at first, and may take some time to master. A helpful strategy suggested by Bob Proctor, creator of the Goal Achiever program, is to say “Next!” or “Switch” the moment you catch yourself having a self-defeating thought, and then to immediately replace it with a positive thought. Replace “I’ll try” with “I will do this.” Replace “I should” with “I must.” When tempted to say “I can’t,” ask yourself “what exact steps must I take to ensure that I make this happen?” Becoming aware of your negative, passive thought habits and consciously replacing them with action-oriented, positive and empowering thoughts is one of the most important and critical steps to unburying yourself from old, destructive patterns and priming you towards new, more constructive and healthier ones.
If you’re tired of watching your New Year’s resolutions become end-of-year regrets, than make sure you’ll stick to your resolve this time around. Follow this 8 step goal-setting formula in order to transform your weight loss resolutions into positive actions that empower you to finally attain the body of your dreams.
How To Set Weight Loss Goals that You’ll Actually Follow Through On
1. Set Goals that are Specific
The desire to lose weight, get lean or feel healthier are good motivators to get the wheels turning – but they aren’t enough to actually get you moving forward in the right direction. The odds of hitting the target by simply tossing your dart in its general direction are slim to none – locking your eye on the exact mark, properly positioning yourself and taking precise aim, on the other hand, increases your odds of a clean strike into the bull’s-eye by a landslide. That’s why it’s vital to narrow down your general goals into very specific ones. Determine: exactly how many pounds do you want to lose? Exactly how many inches? What body fat percentage do you want to drop down to? What dress size do you want to be fitting in to? By what date do you want to have your goals achieved by?
You can’t experience the satisfaction of achieving your goal unless you have a way of knowing whether or not you’ve actually achieved it. The emotions you have vested in your weight loss and how you look make you far too subjective to judge whether you’ve made any progress from simply looking in the mirror. That’s why you need an objective method for measuring your results, in a quantifiable way. Charting your body fat percentage, how many inches you’ve lost, how much weight you’ve lost or etc. in a chart or graph gives you the immediate feedback you need to evaluate whether what you are doing is actually working to move you progressively towards your specific goal, or whether you aren’t heading towards your goals at all and need to re-strategize your weight loss, diet or exercise approach. Not only is this important for making sure that your efforts are paying off, but seeing the numbers ticking away in the right direction boosts your motivation and confidence regularly, keeping you trudging forward with growing enthusiasm.
3. Set Goals that are Ambitious
No one wants to feel like they’ve failed at reaching their goal. And it’s this fear of failure that inclines many of us to short-change our real dreams and to reduce what we really want for smaller, more “attainable” and more “realistic” goals. While reaching those easier goals can help to build confidence and motivation in the beginning of your weight loss journey, staying at level “easy” and never aiming any higher towards your true dreams starts to make those small successes less motivating, and the drive to keep going is lost. Staying too close to your mental and emotional comfort zone will leave you stuck in the physical zone that you don’t feel so comfortable with. That’s because “realistic” goals aren’t as motivating as your wants! Once you’ve moved away from the “I can’t”s and replaced them with “I CAN if I stick to the game plan”, than you no longer have to be afraid of committing to the goals that you are really after, in your heart of hearts. A goal that you really desire is one that is worth making sacrifices for. Firmly deciding that you want this goal, and firmly deciding that you will make all sacrifices necessary to get there, empowers you to accomplish virtually anything.
Once you’ve mustered up the courage to commit to your ultimate goals, write them down at the top of a piece of paper. Then, plot out exactly how you will reach your ultimate goals by determining 4 specific and shorter-term goals: 1. Your Daily Goals (daily habits you must develop, things you need to do every day), 2. Your Weekly Goals (how much weight/body fat/inches/etc. you aim to safely lose every week), 3. Your Three month goal, 4. Your Twelve-month goal
4. Set Goals that are Safe
Let step 3 fire you up with excitement to reach for the things you’ve always wished for! However, don’t confuse ambition with impatience. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has established guidelines for healthy weight loss, recommending a weight loss goal of one to two pounds per week, or about half a percent of body fat per week. Losing more weight than this per week is definitely possible, but usually this is just water and muscle mass being lost (which makes sustaining weight loss more difficult), and too much weight lost too quickly can damage your metabolism and cause the weight to pile back on in the future. That’s why you must create ambitious goals within practical deadlines. The smartest, safest and most effective approach to weight loss is the gradual approach. Use the ACSM weight loss guidelines to determine your daily, weekly, 3-month, 12-month and ultimate goal schedule. Write all of these goals down along with the dates you commit to achieving them by. This sets an urgent pressure fire under you to get you moving to weight loss, making tempting procrastination and stall tactics into non-options.
5. Decide WHY You Must Reach Your Goals
After deciding what you want, you must decide why you want it. There will be days when you don’t feel like going to the gym, or when you’re tempted to fall off your diet and just indulge in whatever you want. For these times, it’s important to remind yourself of what all these sacrifices are for in the first place. Once you’ve written down your ultimate goals and your short-term goals, create a list of reasons why the achievement of these goals are so important to you. The more honest and emotionally charged you can be when establishing these reasons, the better. Your reasons should have the power to stir you up – by getting you excited, or angry, or frustrated, or determined, etc. – to give you that kick-in-the-butt energy you need to get out of a motivational rut, every time you read them. When coming up with these reasons, try cuing yourself with questions like: why are you unhappy at your current weight? What things are your current weight holding you back from? What things do you gain from a new, leaner and fitter body? Is there a sport or athletic feat you want to succeed in? Do you have a wedding/cruise/beach party/special event you want to look fantastic at? Who do you want to look like? Do you want to impress someone? Do you have something to prove/to whom/what? What do you want the reactions of people you are attracted to to be when they look at the new you? Answering these kinds of questions will help you uncover the driving force behind your goals, and will give you renewed motivation and willpower every time you read them.
6. Turn Your Goals into Affirmations
Rewrite your goals as statements that are personal, positive and in the present tense – these are called affirmations. Bill Proctor states that affirmations with these three elements (personal, positive and in the present tense) are by far the most effective programming language for your subconscious, commanding it to act immediately to turn your affirmations into truths and make them your reality. The key to creating affirmations is to use the word “I”, to use active words of being and doing that are in the present tense like “I am” or “I do”, to avoid future-tense being and action words like “I will” or “I am going to”, and to avoid statements of negative actions like “I am not” or “I do not” or “I never” or etc. Examples of good affirmations include “I am so happy now that I fit into my favorite size 6 pair of jeans, and I look so hot in them,” “I feel so terrific now that I run 5 miles every morning without getting tired,” “I am so thankful that I am 16 percent body fat,” “I am losing body fat and reaching my goal weight of 120lbs by July 1st,” “I love how energized and happy I feel and how my body looks in the mirror every day now that I eat small balanced meals every day without any toxic unhealthy ingredients,” “I make guys’ jaws drop when I go to the beach in my bathing suite,” etc.
7. Read Your Affirmations, Goals and Reasons Twice a Day
Advertising companies spend millions of dollars every year to make sure that you see and hear the ads for their products over and over again, because they know that repetition is the key to programming your subconscious to act upon repetitive information. You must also take advantage of the power of repetition to influence your own subconscious towards your own goals. That’s why, once you’ve written out all of your goals, your reasons and your affirmations, read your list at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. Moreover, keep this list in front of you as much as possible – post a copy on your refrigerator, hang one up on your desktop at work, paste a copy on your dashboard in your car, etc. This may seem excessive and extreme at first. But if you dismiss this proven technique as silly or stupid or over the top, than you have to ask yourself: am I truly doing everything I can to make sure I achieve my dream body? What you are doing now hasn’t been working; therefore, it’s important to open your mind without judgement and take risks with new methods that you haven’t tried before. Stick to this affirmation technique for at least 21 days before you discount it, the time period that studies have shown can exert true changes upon your subconscious and behavior patterns. Many have come to see for themselves that affirmations are far more powerful than they ever imagined.
William Shakespeare once wrote “our doubts are our traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” Doubts hold us back because they act as excuses to not succeed, offering you available paths to take towards failure. And, as we’ve seen, dwelling on paths towards failure programs your subconscious to make it true by ensuring that you follow these paths. On the other hand, the opposite of doubt is belief. Unlike doubt, belief declares that success is absolutely possible. And, by drawing a straight and clear path towards your success, belief eradicates any excuses one might be tempted to use to justify walking down any other paths towards failure instead. This doesn’t make the path towards success any easier – but by making it clear to your mind that success IS available to you, it becomes plain that it makes absolutely no sense for you to travel down any alternative road. That’s why only true, unwavering belief has the power to make you hang on and keep going until you get there, no matter what obstacles you meet along the way.
Certainly, belief is harder than doubt – belief requires you to have unshakeable confidence in something you can’t see and may have never experienced before. However, it’s something you must practice constantly, just like any skill, because if you read your goals and affirmations every day with doubt, than you’re undoing all the power they otherwise will exert over your subconscious, your actions and your weight loss success. This is why reading your affirmations in the present-tense every day is so important. And while you read your goals as if they’ve already been achieved, you must also visualize them in your mind as if they’ve already been achieved, and even act as if they are already achieved. Look in the mirror every day and see what you want to become, not what’s there. It may feel as if you are just lying to yourself, but if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes real – as long as you believe that it IS becoming true. Belief without doubt is the only way to activate your subconscious to make sure that it is true, triggering you to act in all the ways necessary to ensure that reality DOES come to match your beliefs.
Determining Your Own Reality is Easier Than You Think
You want to lose weight and look the best you ever have in your entire life. You know you want that. But, as you’ve seen from your own life experiences so far, wanting has never been enough to make it so. That’s because wanting something isn’t enough. You must write down what you want, why you want it, and what you have to do to get there. Repeat this over and over and over and over again, every day, until you truly believe it can be so – until you truly believe that it IS so. It’s not always easy, but programming yourself to believe is the hardest part. However, it’s absolutely worth the effort, because once you truly believe in something, doing what needs to be done to get there becomes much easier. Once you know that success is your only option, getting yourself to diet, exercise and adopt a healthy lifestyle becomes obvious, natural and, eventually, automatic. That’s the only way to turn your beliefs into actions, to turn your wishes into truths, to turn your fantasies into reality.
But don’t take my word for it. Get started. RIGHT NOW. You’ll become a believer too.