Achieving any level of continued success requires a strategy. And I've come up with this 7 step guide to help ladies find success in their desire for better fitness and health. But you can also use it for other areas of your life. This strategy has helped me. I hope it works for you too.
1. Understanding Why
The first step in creating a winning or successful strategy is to ask yourself why you want to change, and exactly what changes you are looking for.
Unless your goal is very specific or short term, it probably shouldn't be a number of stones/pounds or a dress size, although that may be part of it. Try to picture what it is you really want, and not only how that looks, but how it would feel.
Are your goals linked to an event, or a person perhaps? What's most important to you, how long it takes or how much you'll enjoy the journey, or a bit of both?
When I decided to change, it was because I wanted to move on from a phase of my life, and I knew that to make this happen I would need more energy. I also knew that to have any chance of making a successful career as a model I needed to stay in shape, but didn't want that to be at the expense of my health or of being able to go out and have fun sometimes.
Write down your own reasons for why you want to change, date it, and keep it somewhere safe.
2. Commitment Counts
For some people, committing yourself to something is really easy. If you're someone who acts on impulse, then committing up front feels instinctive and obvious. But beware! Sometimes impulsive decisions aren't the ones we stick to, and it might just be because you're not truly committing your heart and soul to your rushed choice.
If this is you, then try to commit not just to starting your journey, but to continuing it to it's natural end. For others, making a decision is more difficult, often self doubt or some other fear will get in the way and create a block, like being stuck in the Mannequin challenge of your life, wearing the wrong clothes!
Fear exists for everyone. It's made worse nowadays because we see just about every bad or scary event that's happening in the entire world condensed into a few minutes of news and delivered to us in front of our eyes everyday.
Sometimes we need to break out of that cycle of fear and bad news and create our own world with us at it's centre. Focussing on what we can do and what we can achieve. Commit to being the best and bravest version of you that you can manage each day. Ignore or simply turn off bad news for a while, at least until you feel strong enough to take on the world again
3. Choose wisely
There's nothing worse than buying something (I'm thinking clothes!) one minute and then seeing it either cheaper or better somewhere else. Equally, there's nothing worse than not buying it, only to get home and wish you had it to wear that night.
Like just about everything we do, it's about finding a balance.
Often for me, when I'm out buying for an event, the risks of not having the right top or dress would far outweigh any possible benefit of maybe saving a few pounds if I'd waited and looked somewhere else.
When it comes to your fitness and health, it's so important to choose wisely. Unfortunately there's no Go Compare or Compare the Meerkat, when it comes to fitness. So your going to have to do a bit of that work yourself.
So when you do, make sure you take your time! This is a decision about your life and your health, not something you should rush madly into. It's often good to compare different solutions for price & value, the quality and depth of the content and anything else that's important to you. Take this, for example:
Option 1) You join a gym
Have I done it before? Did it work? How likely am I to keep going when the going gets tough? What level of instruction and coaching am I likely to receive? Can I afford Personal Training? Is my local gym full of people like me, or people I usually try and avoid?
Option 2) Buy the latest DVD
Pose the same questions as before. Decide whether a one size fits all approach will work for you long term. What happens when it finishes? What if I haven't reached my goal? Who can I go to for help?
Option 3) Start running.
If we're talking jogging, then I can tell you now, it isn't the most efficient way to burn calories (it's actually barely any better than walking, and nowhere near a HIIT workout for example), especially if you're just looking to start your weight loss journey. Your knees will take a hammering and you'll almost certainly give up before you achieve any sort of real gains.
Obviously I'm biased, as I've seen the above mentioned options fail so often, and for so many people. But nevertheless, this is an important process because there absolutely will come a day when you want to give up, stop training and return to your comfort zone. And only if you've managed to get rid of all of your doubts about the system you've chosen, will you be able to push through, knowing that you are in the best place for you.
4. Be Realistic
Ok. So if you're determined to be the image of your 'dream body' in just a few months, I'm going to be honest and say that's unlikely to happen. Unless you're embarking on an intensive training regime, and working out A LOT!
Drastic weight loss is just that, drastic. Just as insane fitness gains are insane! So be cautious, anything that sounds a bit drastic or insane can also be read as "stressful"for you and your body.
Excessive stress is not a good thing for our long term fitness or health, and choosing a steady rate of change will definitely give you the best chance of getting lasting, and consistently improving results.
Being realistic also applies to not just reaching your goal, but also keeping it when you get there. For example, getting a six-pack can be a goal, but realistically, trying to keep it long term is very stressful on your body and your lifestyle. So my realistic approach is to have that as a goal once a year, and then step back a bit from that for the rest of the time.
5. Be Adaptable.
To be honest you can apply this "skill" to all aspects of your life. Change is inevitable! It's great to have a goal and a reason why you have that goal, but the goal and the reason for the goal are both subject to change at any time.
Don't hold onto a goal that has now passed it's sell by date. Regularly review, revise and keep your goals relevant! These are your four R's for long term success. Write it down again once your certain. New date, new challenge!
6. Frenemies! Who's who?
Friends or enemies, supporters and saboteurs... they're everywhere! Very few people manage to just stay neutral on a given subject anymore.
Whether you like it or not, your friends, family and just about everyone else in your life will have an opinion about you and what you do. 'If only she did that, if only she looked like this, her life could be...' You can argue that everyone is 'entitled to their opinion', (they're entitled to have it, you're not obliged to hear it BTW) and a lot of people will say they 'are only trying to help'. That isn't necessarily always the case.
One of your jobs is to decide who will be a genuine part of your journey, who will support and encourage you when the going gets tough. On the other side of the coin, look out for those whose nose may be put out of joint. Who might feel that their life is better, or easier, because you're as you are today. Who might be 'scared' of a stronger, more powerful you!
Look out for them, but don't let them put you off your chosen path.
If someone you love or care about is not on board with your journey to a fitter and healthier you, that's probably because they believe that it will put pressure on them to make changes in their own life, and they're as petrified of change as the rest of us!
Take the time to explain that what you're doing is really important to you, and the reasons why. Ask them why they're not able to support you, and reassure them that just because you have decided to change, you're not expecting them to be on your timetable or have the same goals.
If that doesn't work, then you may have to consider that if they're not part of the solution, then they're part of the problem, and that might mean you need a bit of space from them while you tackle your goal on your own.
7. No one Fails!
You may well, sometimes, be feeling as though you're a failure. Whether in relation to your diet, your fitness, with work - whatever the case, if that statement's true, it needs to stop. Right now.
If you are reading this then you are still trying to find the right solution for you, and if you're still trying then that means you haven't given up.
You CANNOT fail unless you give up!
Giving up on hopes and dreams is sometimes inevitable. Often it's because we've outgrown them and they're no longer relevant to our life today. It's important to understand that this is not failure, it's just normal. We change, we grow, and we move on every single day. Don't ever consider yourself a failure, and don't ever give up!
So this is my Strategy for Success, it won't stop the bad days, but it might help you to get through them and come out fighting, and ultimately, to have less and less bad days, and more and more good ones.
I really wish you every success on your journey.