PART 1 OF 6: “It’s All in Your Head.”
Just take a glance at the top-selling diet books recently: The “Shred” Diet, The 20/20 Diet, The “Supercharged” South Beach Diet, The Fast Metabolism Diet, The Zero Belly Diet—and that’s just a few of them. Some are written by personal trainers, some by doctors, some by registered dieticians, some by athletes. Each and every one says that the plan contained within its pages holds the answer to YOUR weight-loss success. So—which one is telling the truth? The answer may surprise you:
ALL OF THEM!
Yes, that’s right. Each and every one of those diets has been painstakingly researched and tested, complete with recipes, calendars, and recommended workouts, scientific studies supporting their claims, and testimonials from happy and successful dieters. And I am sure that each and every one of them has merit. I am not a huge fan of extreme diets, ones that keep you on an extended regimen of cabbage juice and flax seed, but I think most balanced weight-loss diets with plenty of lean protein and lots—and LOTS—of fresh vegetables and fruits ought to work just fine for most people.
So, if there are so many wonderful diet books out there, and so many of them work so well, why do we keep needing new ones? Why the continual “fad diet” cycle, with every decade bringing fresh nutrition data that claims to have finally identified the perfect health food?
Because we keep quitting. We go on and off diets like rides at Disneyland. With each new diet book we jump on a new bandwagon, throwing out the old 4-smoothies-a-day book and bringing in the new red-meat-and-broccoli book. And there’s nothing really wrong with that, as long as you are fueling your body well. But if you have a weight loss goal that you are still nowhere near reaching, or your weight has fluctuated greatly over the past several years and you can just about reach, but not maintain, your goal weight, then your problem is not in your body, but in your head.
There is nothing more frustrating than struggling to lose weight and failing. I have been there many, many times. But I have learned a thing or two in the last several years, and there are “tricks of the trade” that you may not have encountered before, simple suggestions that will make virtually ANY diet work well for you, and continue to work so that you lose and maintain your goal weight for as long as you like!
Trick #1: Make yourself a Fitness Avatar!
That’s right, an Avatar. For those 3 people out there who never saw the movie, an Avatar is a creative image or alternate version of you. It can be an animated online icon, or something you envision that represents you. So your Fitness Avatar should be you, at your goal weight. You should be able to visualize yourself in your lean, fit body, your new clothes flowing perfectly over your sculpted arms and slender legs. Sounds awesome, right? And it will look even better!
Find a photo of someone whose physique you admire, or perhaps a photo of you at a different time in your life. Be realistic; if you’re 5’2” tall, like me, maybe the statuesque Charlize Theron isn’t going to be the Avatar for you. And if you have a naturally curvy build, perhaps Audrey Hepburn isn’t on your list. So choose a figure that defines the body you would like to have, and keep it firmly in mind. You could even paste a photo of your head on the body, just to get a preview.
Here’s my example: I love the way Janet Jackson looked in the late 90’s. She had great muscle definition but wasn’t too thin, with great curves above and below. I studied the photos of her amazing figure and was blown away by how strong she looked, and how feminine.
And that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be that strong, that shapely, that defined. It gave me a goal to shoot for. When I was choosing the foods that would complement my workouts, I imagined myself with that shape and chose accordingly. It was as though I was becoming a different person—and I was.
My thought patterns began to change when I imagined creating that sculpted shoulder, that slender waist, with the workouts and food plan I was following. And when I look at my body today, I see the results of envisioning that in myself. Believe me when I say I’m no Janet Jackson, but I do have the muscle definition and slender curves that look and feel both strong and feminine to me.
I always ask my clients, “Do you have a vision of how you would like to look at your goal weight?” It surprises me when so many of them don’t. It’s crucial to be able to see yourself in the body you are working so hard to achieve. Choose your Fitness Avatar, follow a delicious and healthy Food Plan, and go for your dream. It’ll be much harder to walk away when you envision the beautiful, strong, and fit body that’s waiting for you!