Begin With The End In Mind
When it comes to body composition change/fat loss, it is important to define where you are starting from, and where you want to go. Before taking a look at where you are starting from, we'd like to help you “Begin With The End In Mind”, so this article and the next couple we post are designed to help you determine where you want to end up, and why.
The End Game
What do you envision your end result as being? How do you look when you picture yourself at the end of this journey? How do you feel? What do your friends and family say about “the new you”?
What you have in mind for your end goals right now might include:
Maybe you used to weigh a certain amount back in high school, and the years haven’t been too kind to you (are they ever?). Maybe you have some kind of “ideal” weight based on what a celebrity you admire supposedly weighs, or some kind of formula you found on the Internet. Maybe that old BMI (Body Mass Index) chestnut has been trotted out to you by some well-meaning medical professional - a standard by which many super fit professional athletes would be considered obese.
Scale weight is a tricky one to use as a goal, because it is difficult to determine an accurate target number. The various formulae available are pretty arbitrary. Everyone is different – different skeletal frame, musculature, metabolism, hormonal levels, etc. can all affect what your ultimate, healthy weight may be. Even with the same “ideal” weight from a formula, two people with similar heights and frame types could look drastically different. One might look fit and healthy, and the other might look sickly and haggard. Similarly, both might look great, but one might feel energized and full of life, while the other might feel crappy and tired. You just don't know until you get there.
It's also worth noting that you could reach a certain target weight by either being fit, trim and healthy, or by being skinny-fat and sick - the number is just a number, it is not an indication of how healthy you are.
That said, a number on the scale is something it is easy to get your head around, and is a fairly simple and repeatable thing to measure. If you're a "numbers person", this may be something you can work with, but remember, until you get there, you won't really know what your true "ideal" weight is. For a better numbers-oriented target, you might want to look into performance-based goals instead (see below).
Do you have current, measurable health issues that you hope to overcome through fat loss? Things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood sugar issues, back/hip/knee/ankle issues could all be health issues you hope to overcome through fat loss.
Health improvement can be a great motivator – nothing like the doctor telling you the grim reaper is waiting in the wings unless you make a significant change to convince you to finally “get your act together”, right? Unfortunately, most health issues have come about through years of doing small things just a little bit wrong, and the weight of those years (no pun intended) is not so easily shrugged off and turned around. People often try and make some massive changes to the way they eat and live to solve these issues, and struggle to stick with them, even with such a significant motivating factor in play.
Fortunately, you don't have to approach things that way. Just like how you ended up where you are, a number of small changes, made one at a time until each one "sticks", will get you to your health goals.
TARGET CLOTHING SIZE/MEASUREMENTS OR GOAL OUTFIT(S)
Do you have an old pair of “skinny jeans” lurking in the back of your closet that you always hoped you could one day get back into? What about that suit you wore on your wedding day? What about that cute dress or bikini you are hoping to get into for your upcoming vacation?
How you feel in your clothes, or how you look (or think you look) can be one of the best indicators of progress. It is easy to feel your clothes fitting a bit more loosely, and family and friends will often comment on how the new, fitter you is looking great, and that feedback can be both a motivator and a reward in itself.
This "look and feel" is what we like to use as the most important yardstick for progress during our program.
Maybe there's an event you want to be "fit enough" to compete in, like a Spartan Race or triathlon. Perhaps you have some targets for strength you'd like to meet, like being able to do proper push-ups, or chin-ups, or deadlift some multiple of your bodyweight. Performance goals are a great way to measure progress, because you can really see a "here to there" progression as you lose fat and become more fit and capable.
For numbers people, we prefer to use performance goals instead of scale weight, because achieving goals like these can be a lot more constructive, and will absolutely lead to fat loss progress, whereas obsessing about numbers on the scale can easily lead to destructive and compulsive behaviour.
Maybe your End Game consists of something else we haven't mentioned above - anything you have in mind can be, and most likely is, a valid goal in one respect or another. Bear these things in mind as you go through the exercise below. Maybe you don't really have a clear-cut picture of your End Game just yet - if that's the case, no problem! The exercise will help you develop that vision through what is know as guided visualization.
Set aside 5-10 minutes with no distractions - put the kids to bed, turn off the TV and the smartphone.
As you go through each step of the exercise below, either write what you see/feel/hear down in a journal or notebook, or if you like, Contact Us for a handy printable form we use with our own in-house coaching clients.
Part 1 - What does the future you look like?
What do you see, when you experience the "ideal you"?
Close your eyes and really try to visualize and experience what your “ideal you” is like, focusing on what you actually see.
Imagine yourself standing in front of a mirror – what do you see there? How do you look?
How are your clothes fitting? Is your waist nice and trim, fitting easily into those jeans you haven’t worn in years? Maybe your top is a bit more snug around the chest and shoulders because of the work you’ve put in at the gym, and that great posture you're now sporting? Is your face a bit leaner looking too, with more defined cheekbones and jawline?
As you move through your day, what kind of reactions do you see on the faces of others as they see the new, fit and trim you? Are you getting some approving looks from those people whose opinions really matter to you? Maybe some raised eyebrows, glances and smiles from across the room, even from complete strangers?
Really experience being the new you visually for a few minutes, and write down what you see.
Part 2 - What does the future you feel like?
Again, close your eyes and really try to visualize and experience what your "ideal you" is like, this time focusing on how it feels to be the new you.
What do you feel, when you experience the "ideal you"?
Part 3 - What does the future you hear?
Once again, close your eyes and really try to visualize and experience what your "ideal you" is like, this time focusing on what the new you hears, both from your own inner voice and from others.
What do you hear, as you experience the "ideal you"?
Use this exercise to create a clear picture in your mind of what the "ideal you" might look like, and keep that picture in mind as you continue on your journey. In our next article, we'll look at Finding Your Why - the real, deep down feelings that will help you stay on track when things get rough.
We hope that we've given you some valuable info to help you on your journey, or at the very least given you something to think about! If you like what you see, please let us know and help spread the word by liking and/or following us on Facebook and sharing this with your friends. Thanks! ---Coach JP