Can we talk about women’s magazines for a minute? I used to love flipping through any and all of them to pass the time while doing my compulsory 60 minutes on the elliptical every day (back in my cardio queen days- cringe), with headlines like these drawing me in:
- “Lose 10 pounds this week!”
- “Bikini Body Now!”
- “2 Minutes To Flat Abs.”
- “Slim Down Fast!”
Despite the fact that these claims are bogus (don’t get me started), there’s a bigger issue at play. Beneath the frivolous headlines and content, the message these magazines are sending boils down to this: be less.
Eat less. Lose weight. Get smaller.
I know that many people have goals that include losing weight and lowering their body fat. Those are great goals to have, especially when they are part of an overall objective to improve your health. But tell me, please, why in the world we have to make ourselves less in order to accomplish those goals?
The answer- we don’t. If there’s one thing I know too well, it’s that when your only purpose for working out is calorie burn and weight loss (i.e. becoming less), exercise can quickly become something you dread. When you look at food and think only about how much exercise it would take to work it off, you’re setting yourself up to resent both food and exercise. This is all part of the mentality that the weight loss industry has pounded in to our heads, and one that is NOT conducive to successfully accomplishing your goals.
Exercise shouldn’t be something we dread. It’s something that gives us energy, lifts our mood, and makes us strong and healthy. It shouldn’t be a hardship!
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve your health, or feel more confident, you don’t need to be less in order to accomplish it. You will be infinitely more successful if you strive to be more.
Consider this: you change your goal from “lose 10 pounds” to “do 25 jump squats in a row” or “be able to run 5 miles.” All of the sudden you have a concrete purpose for working out which does not revolve solely around that calorie burn. You’re working on impoving your stamina and building towards something instead of simply decreasing the number on the scale. Instead of being less, you are being more.
If there’s one change you make, forget about making the number on the scale go down and focus on the other (more important) numbers: Add more weight. Do more reps. Go a little longer. Set goals that allow you to focus on ways you can grow instead of ways you can shrink. When you pursue these goals, weight loss and fat loss become a natural part of the process.
So how can you start being more?
Step 1: Put down that magazine trying to convince you they’ve discovered “The Tricks to Instant Weight Loss”
Step 2: Understand that basic nutrition & regular exercise are the only “secrets” to losing fat
Starving yourself is not the only way to achieve fat loss. In fact, if you’re going for long-term results, restrictive diets and deprivation are among the worst routes you can take to get there.
You don’t have to (and should not) go on a crazy cleanse, avoid certain foods, or spend hundreds of dollars on fat burning products. The only thing you truly need to do is stick to the proven basics of nutrition and exercise. Eating clean, natural foods most of the time (I’m a proponent of the 80/20 rule) along with regular, consistent exercise is going to get you much, much farther than any cleanse or deprivation-based diet ever will.
Step 3: Focus on growing, not shrinking
When it comes to weight loss and getting in shape, there is so much emphasis placed on cutting out certain foods and burning calories, and if you ask me, it’s not a realistic way to view exercise and nutrition for life. I can’t go through every day wondering how much time on the elliptical I have to do because of the sandwich I just ate. Not following me? For example:
Can I spend the rest of my life chugging away on an elliptical for 60 minutes every time I feel guilty about something I eat? No sir. Not a chance.
Can I spend the rest of my life lifting heavier weights, tacking on more wall balls, and running faster sprints? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Do you see what I mean? The end result is the same: I workout. I burn calories. It’s good for my body. But the change in thinking- that’s good for my mind. And that is the key! So instead of looking for ways to cut out certain foods or create huge calorie deficits, start focusing on ways you can improve and grow:
– Increase the weight you’re lifting
– Build your stamina (tack on 10 more burpees!)
– Increase your endurance (5 more minutes on the stairclimber!)
– Eat more veggies at dinner
– Drink more water
By focusing on growth-oriented goals, you start to change how you view exercise and nutrition. Instead of focusing on not eating bread, you begin to think about how to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Instead of thinking only about burning more calories, you start adding more burpees to your workout to increase your stamina. When you begin to change your point of view and look for ways you can grow instead of ways you can shrink, the negative connotations associated with food and exercise start to fall away. You start to actually enjoy the process of fueling your body with food and pushing it to get stronger.
This change in your mindset is absolutely everything. It bring’s a positive light to the changes you’re making. Instead of obsessing over burning calories, you’re focused on getting stronger and being better. Will you burn calories in the process? Yes. But your mindset makes all the difference. The positive mindset you gain from building towards a concrete goal (i.e. do 100 burpees in a row) slowly causes those changes to become a part of your lifestyle instead of an unrealistic change you can’t stick with.
So get out there, and be more.