Category Archives: Goal Setting

7 Tips for Losing Weight

Yesterday I provided a recount of how I lost 30 lbs in 3 months starting on January 1st of this year. In that post I went through the steps I took to get there, but I had hoped that my post would serve as a motivator as opposed to a step-by-step guide to losing weight.

Today I’d like to list the biggest tips I can give you based on my experience in losing weight.

This information is hypothetical or based on what I’ve read, it’s information that I used myself to successfully lose weight and become a brand new me.

1. Set a Small Goal

Setting a small goal was the biggest key in achieving my weight loss. In the past I had been vague about wanting to lose weight. Or wanting to drop 30 lbs. I would begin working out and when I would only see a pound or so gone after a hard week of working out I’d want to throw in the towel.

The key this time around is that I broke my overall goal down into smaller, more realistic goals. Instead of resolving to lose 30 lbs from the start, I set a goal to lose 10 lbs in a month. I entered this goal into my goal setting application, Stickk.com, and it broke the goal down further into weekly goals of approximately 2 lbs.

Starting a week knowing I had a hard target of losing 2 lbs tended to be a lot more motivating then hoping for a 30 lb. loss over an indefinite amount of time.

2. Track Weight and Workouts

A further result of setting goals meant that I needed to track my weight. I began doing this on a daily basis as I wanted a consistent view of how far I needed to go to reach my weekly goal. I would weigh myself first thing in the morning every day to ensure that what I was tracking was consistent.

The result of weighing myself every day is that I was getting immediate feedback into whether or not I was working hard enough to meet my goals. If there were days where I would see a loss, or even gained weight, it would serve as an added incentive to push myself a little harder at the gym and avoid that piece of dessert that I really didn’t need.

I also began tracking my cardio activity. Aside from seeing how my cardio was progressing, it would serve as a game. If I knew I ran 2.8 miles in 30 minutes earlier in the week, I would try to push myself to be a little better the next time out and possibly hit 3.0 miles. Games like this kept me interested and provided a little extra motivation.

3. Push a Little Harder

I’ve always felt guilty about not giving my all at the gym. I felt like I would be leaving a little (and sometimes a lot) left in the tank at the end of my workout.

Over the past three months I adopted an attitude that if I’m going to drag my butt to the gym that I’m going to make sure I work hard when I get there. It felt uncomfortable and I was certainly sore in the days that followed, but the results were undeniable.

Too many of us have a lower tolerance for discomfort that we don’t make any real changes in our lives or our bodies. Try to push through this discomfort and push yourself just a little harder. You will notice the difference.

4. Focus on Your Food

One thing I didn’t do while I was losing weight was track every piece of food I ate. I’ve tried this in the past and typically I would be okay for a couple of days, but would eventually lose track for one day and everything would go off the rails.

This time around, I just focused on eating healthier in general while incorporating more protein in my diet to make myself feel fuller. The basic rule that I would follow was that all my meals needed to be prepared at home and needed to consist of some protein with some carbs and vegetables.

I don’t advocate the low carb diet in general as low carbs make me feel lethargic and moody. But I didn’t ensure my meals were smaller and that I ate at 8am, 10am, 12 pm, 2:30pm 5:30pm and then a snack near 9pm. It was rare that I felt hungry following this eating plan.

I also focused on eliminating a bad habit of eating late at night. Aside from ingesting needless calories, this also tended to interfere with having a solid night’s sleep. The added motivation of knowing I had to weigh in the next morning did a great job at keeping me out of the cupboards!

5. Build in Added Motivation

After losing 20 lbs., I’ll admit that I had a drop in my motivation. I felt like I had worked so hard that I could almost take a break after accomplishing my monthly goal for January and February. But I wasn’t at my ultimate goal.

To give myself an extra boost, I decided to book a trip to a warm weather location as an added motivator.

With this vacation looming and knowing that I’d want to look my best while on a beach in my swim trunks, I was able to quickly ratchet back up the motivation I needed to start working on achieving my goal for March.

If you can’t build in an added motivator like booking a vacation, try to focus on an event you have coming up that you want to look your best for, whether it’s a wedding, a formal work function, etc.

6. Just Start

You know when the best time is to start getting healthier? Right now. All too often we get caught up in trying to figure out a “best time” to start getting in shape or we’re going to get started on this Monday. When it comes to your health, the best time to get started is right away.

In my case, I didn’t start a New Year’s resolution or anything like that. I woke up on January 5th and thought to myself that I didn’t want to feel fat any more. So the first thing I did was eat a healthier breakfast. I also packed a workout bag and resolved that I was going to go to the gym over lunch.

I didn’t have any major plan in place, but I knew enough that eating healthier throughout the day and getting active would be a good place to start. I knew that I could adjust course and research a workout program later in the day, but step one was to just start and act on the motivation that was already present.

7. Commit with a Friend

When I started getting back into going to the gym I would go with my girlfriend. We started a workout program together and we completed the workouts together as well. The benefit of this is that we had each other to motivate us on days where one of us really wasn’t up for it. We’d remind the other that it was only going to be 45 minutes out of our day and we’d have it done.

It was amazing how much this got me to the gym on days where I would have otherwise sat on my butt on the couch and continued watching TV.

If you have a partner, try getting active with them and getting healthier together. If you don’t have a significant other, I’m sure you have a friend that would like to get in a bit better shape. Seek them out and set a goal together so you can be accountable to each other.

Losing weight is a difficult challenge. One of the key things to remember is that you have to be patient with it. You didn’t put on the extra weight in a week or even a month, and as such you won’t be able to take it off in a week or a month either.

Make sure you focus on seeing small but incremental results. These will build up week after week and before long you will start to notice a difference. Soon after that, other people will start noticing as well.

So don’t wait for the perfect time to start getting healthier, start right now!

Take part in (or start) the conversation below by letting me know your thoughts on my tips. If you have any others to add, feel free to post them in there as well for other people.

How I Lost 30 lbs. in 3 Months

I have always struggled with my weight. I was always active when I was growing up and I played nearly every sport available in my area. I was good at them too. But I also loved to eat. I’m pretty confident that if it weren’t for the number of sports I played I would have been much more obese in my childhood years.

My parents weren’t to blame. They tried to ensure I ate healthy and would keep a close eye on what I ate. But I became a picky eater and came to start eating only high carb foods such as bread, cereal, breaded chicken, etc. Oh, and lets not forget that I absolutely loved ice cream, cookies, and chocolate in general.

When I got to university, I was about 190 lbs which was chubby but not exactly fat. But that’s when the “Freshman 15” kicked in. With the amount of physical activity in my life decreasing and the amount of booze and fast food increasing, I quickly ballooned to about 210 lbs after my first year. Then 220 in my second year. I think I finally topped out at 230 lbs somewhere near graduation.

A breakup shortly after provided me with a spark of motivation and I got myself down to about 215 lbs where I resided for the next 8 or 9 years, give or take 5 lbs here and there.

But towards the end of 2012 I felt like making a change. I can’t credit any particular spark for getting me started, but the results to date have been nothing short of spectacular, to me anyway. Here’s my story of how I did it, from a starting weight of 220 lbs.

The Start

I had been in gym avoidance mode for some time for various reasons, one of which was embarrassment at how terribly out of shape I was. But I decided that I was going to start out slow and build up from there. I had been going sporadically for the month of December, but as holidays rolled around I soon lost my dedication.

But starting in the New Year I resolved to myself that I was not going to be another cliche of a person who vows to lose weight and eventually gives up 2 weeks in. As an additional motivator, I had read about a site called Stickk.com which allows you to set a goal and gives you the option to donate to a charity you hate if you don’t reach your goal.

It sounds a little negative (especially for a personal productivity site!), but there was an organization to which I felt strongly opposed listed. So I decided to set a goal to lose 10 lbs in a month. I wagered $40. The check-ins would take place on a weekly basis and if I didn’t meet the target $10 would be donated to this “anti-charity”.

I can’t say for sure if it was the thought of losing $10 or having the $10 donated to this “anti-charity”, but I met every one of my weekly targets for the first month which resulted in a 10 lb weight loss.

In this first month, I focused on lifting weights 4 to 5 times a week following a program I had found on BodyBuilding.com (I’d recommended Jim Stoppani). I would also incorporate 3 or 4 cardio sessions per week as well.

The Biggest Motivator

One of the biggest benefits of using Stickk.com was that it forced me to track my progress. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Every morning when I would get up, I would weigh myself. The impact of this little task was two-fold:

1) It allowed me to track my progress to see if I was working hard enough. If I didn’t see pounds dropping and I was getting closer to my check in day, it would serve as motivation to work harder at the gym to reach my goals.

2) It served as a motivator to see pounds coming off.

This weigh in served as a daily motivator to take my workouts seriously. Another side benefit of the morning weigh in is that it made me think twice about a late night food binge which had been a common occurrence in my life for many years.

In fact, in many previous attempts to lose weight this is where my diet would come off the tracks. I frequently would eat perfectly throughout the day, ensure I finished my workout, and then would allow it to all come undone with an 11pm binge.

So the thought of having to weigh-in in the morning served as a deterrent many times in avoiding the high carbs that I craved late-night.

The Running Habit

After my first 10 pound loss, I was happy with my results but now that I had a taste of getting in shape, I wanted to keep going. The workout program that I was doing had concluded (it was a 6 week program) and I was looking for a different challenge.

That’s when I decided to undertake the challenge of running.

There is a yearly 10-mile race where I live that I’ve always wanted to run, but I was no where near in shape enough to run 5 miles let alone 10. So I decided I would start small.

I set a weekly goal to run 10 miles in my first couple of weeks. It didn’t matter if I ran those 10 miles in 10 different sessions, two 5 miles sessions, three sessions of 3.33 miles. Whatever, I just had to run 10 miles.

I managed to accomplish this by running 4 sessions of 2×2 miles and 2×3 miles. These sessions were often hard, but in addition to tracking the number of miles I would run, I also tracked the time it would take.

In the weeks that would follow, I would focus my sessions on running three miles. What I began to notice is that I was beginning to push myself to beat my 3 mile time session after session.

Eventually my runs were getting closer to 3.5 miles per 30 minutes which was quite an accomplishment from where I started.

The results in my second month were again similar to my first month. I lost 9 pounds and felt much better physically. Every day tasks like walking up the stairs or taking the dog for a walk felt so much easier. With 19 pounds gone from my body, I guess I can understand why!

Added Motivation

With two months of hard work under my belt and a more slim body to show for it, the month of March provided an extra boost of motivation. I had booked a vacation to a warm weather destination. I would be leaving in May for it. A warm weather destination naturally means swimwear. If I was going to be in swim trunks for a couple of weeks, I was going to make sure that I looked good in them!

So this added motivation and a stronger base built up from a month of running allowed me to increase the number of miles I was logging.

Aside from the 3-4 miles I was running 3 times per week, I was also building in a longer 7-8 mile run on Mondays.

As I had yet another goal set on Stickk.com for another 10 pound weight loss for the month of March, I was shocked to see how much weight I was losing week over week. With a few days to spare in the month I had reached my goal of 10 pounds lost and eventually ended up losing 11 pounds.

Diet

Although I’m leaving my thoughts on my diet towards the end, the importance of my diet shouldn’t be understated. I ate very healthy over the course of these past three months.

I’ll share some specifics of the type of diet I followed in a future post about my most important tips I’ve taken from this experience, but it should be noted that I didn’t starve myself. I didn’t follow a fad diet. And there was rarely a time when I felt very hungry.

I did ensure that I was eating several times a day. I was eating smaller portions while making sure I ate enough protein to make myself feel full. There were also some cheat days built in, as I am only human after all and there are always occasions that call for celebrations.

But the biggest thing I made sure to do was to limit the amount of take-out/fast-food/eating out that I consumed. The vast majority of my meals were cooked at home and I give much of the credit for what I’ve accomplished to this fact.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be the first to admit that the last three months have been difficult at times. I’ve had to work hard for what I’ve accomplished. But if you have been struggling with your weight and have wanted to get in shape, let me be the first to tell you that it feels amazing to see the type of results I’ve accomplished.

People will notice. Your clothes will feel looser and in some cases you’ll have to throw stuff out because it no longer fits. But most importantly, you’ll feel better about yourself and have a healthier you to show for it.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the most important tips I’ve taken from my weight loss experience, but if you have any questions or comments about your own experience, please let me know in the comments!

Use Your Passion as a Compass for Goal Setting

Setting goals wasn’t always easy for me.

I’ve been a productivity junkie (for lack of a better word) for as long as I can remember, so I’ve always heard it preached that goals are essential to making a better life yourself.  It was always a good idea to have goals in various aspects of your life.  So you should set goals for your career, your athletic endeavors, your finances, etc.

But what I didn’t often see was that some of the more important goals you should set surround following your passions in life.

After all, when you look back on your life, do you think you’ll cherish the fact that you improve efficiency in completing those TPS reports week after week or that you achieved your goal of seeing everyone of your favorite groups in concert?

By no means am I suggesting that you should completely disregard any career or financial goals, but I feel like more emphasis should be placed on setting goals that will bring more joy to your life.

What’s your passion?

Strangely enough one of the biggest roadblocks when I tried to set goals around my passions was that I had a hard time defining my passions.  It’s hard to know what goals to set when you can’t define your passions.

So I arranged some time alone to think about what brought happiness into my life.  I focused on what activities I enjoyed with friends, what places I’ve always wanted to visit, what sports I enjoyed playing, what music groups I’ve always wanted to see.  At the end I didn’t exactly have an exhaustive list, but I had a place to start.  I identified a couple of items that I knew I could achieve with a little planning and used a couple of these as my goals.

You may not have this trouble.  You may be fully aware of what your passion is and you may even be lucky enough to pursue it daily.  I applaud you for that and wish more people would take this approach.

But if you’re struggling to really identify your passion like I was then set aside some time for yourself to do some thinking.  Go somewhere quiet with just a pen and paper in hand and jot down some of the things that you really enjoy doing.

I would suggest avoiding using a computer to do this brainstorming as it tends to provide too many distractions.  A pen and paper lets you focus on just the topic at hand and the free space on the paper will provide a good canvas for your brainstorming.

Set at least one goal based on your passion

At the end of your brainstorming session you’ll hopefully have a clearer idea of what you’re really passionate about.  What I don’t want to see happen however is that you become overwhelmed that you have so many passions that you would have to set a goal based on each of them.

What I suggest you do, is set just one goal based on your passion.

The reason for this is that you’ll still need to set goals based on your career, health, finances, and other areas of your life.  By also setting a goal based on one of your passions, it doesn’t allow the rest of your life to suppress this passion.

So why shouldn’t you set more goals around your passion?

You only have so much time and motivation in the day to move your goals forward.  Instead of spreading your focus thinly around several different passion goals, it’s best to focus all your available energy on achieving one goal.

Once that goal is achieved, you can set a new goal in another area you’re passionate about.

Don’t let life get in the way

We all have responsibilities in life that will steal our time and move us away from our passions.  I realize that we can’t just shun these responsibilities, but I don’t think it’s fair to ourselves to delay our passions completely to a later period in life due to these responsibilities.  What tends to happen is that these passions get suppressed indefinitely and as we only get to live this life once, we end up regretting the things we didn’t do.

So take some time today to reflect on what you’re truly passionate about and set a goal to take action on your passion