Making changes can be hard and takes determination. It seems so much harder to lose weight than to put it on. Getting fitter takes commitment and can feel like a huge challenge. I have had a few conversations over the last week about slow progress and struggling to keep momentum. What I want to do today is to go back to basics and set out the steps that you need to take to see change. I always advocate taking it a step at a time rather than changing everything at once. You do need to make a commitment and put in the hard work.

Changing everything at once

Being fit and healthy is a lifestyle change and it will take time. Many diets and fitness programmes fail because you rush in and change absolutely everything all at once. That works for a short time and then life takes over and you have a holiday or a party to go to and you realise that the new regime doesn’t work with your life. Slowly but surely old habits slip back in and before you know it you are back at square one. What’s more you feel even worse than you did as you have now tried and failed.

So what is the alternative?

Success comes from changing habits, having clear goals and working hard. You need to plan and to take it one step at a time. A combination of being more active and eating well will achieve results. It isn’t always easy but here are my tips to help you make your transformation.

Be clear about what you want to achieve

So often I see clients set themselves a big goal and then get frustrated because they haven’t made progress fast enough. Meeting a stretch goal requires planning. You need to set a series of targets AND be clear about how you will achieve them. Lets say that you want to lose a stone in weight. You work out that losing 1-2Ibs a week is a realistic target. You then map out a timeline with 3 milestones along the way. You make yourself a chart or set up a spreadsheet where you can log your progress. It could be that you will reward yourself with a facial or a manicure once you have lost weight for 4 weeks in a row. You would then keep going until you hit the next milestone and earn the next reward. Setting it up in this way will get you focused and working hard.

Work out specific actions

Weight loss is a great goal but it won’t happen without a plan. What exactly are you going to do to lose those pounds? Taking a step by step approach is good here but actions create results. It could be that you start by cutting out the sugary treats, crisps and fizzy drinks. Perhaps step 2 is to then focus on what you eat for breakfast to get your day off to a good start with a filling breakfast. It could be that you take your lunch to work with you to avoid pub lunches and fast food. The next step could be to change your portion size and what is on your plate. Eating too much of any food will sabotage your weight loss. Cutting down on the amount you eat at mealtimes is often the key to losing weight. I see so many clients who have continued to cook the same amount of food that they needed when the kids were still at home. Before you know it you are eating a larger portion to empty the pan! Add in a focus on vegetables as making up half of every meal and the results will start to come. So you need to work out what you will do and when and map out each step with timescales.

Get Moving

We hear so often that our size is determined 70% by diet and 30% by exercise. Don’t dismiss the part that exercise plays in the process though. By increasing your activity levels you feel better, will see a change in your shape and keep your focus. I see clients start by working out and before long they are eating more healthily as they don’t want to undo the progress that they have made by exercising. When clients start training with me, I set out clearly that to see changes they need to be doing at least 2 hours of hard exercise a week. It doesn’t matter how this is broken down but it needs to be hard. A 60 minute circuits class or Personal Training session would equate to 40 minutes of this total as you don’t include the warm up or cool down. A 30 minute class would count as 20 minutes.

Remember that this is the minimum that you need to be doing in order to see change. Get out your diary and schedule what you are going to do. If you want to swim then check the timetable and see when you can fit it in. If you want to do a class then put it on the calendar. If you have a plan to follow at home map out what days/times you will do it this week, and the next and the next.

Keep mixing it up

Any exercise plan will bring results if you work hard. After 6 weeks of doing the same thing though your body will adapt and it will start to feel easier. That is where it falls down for so many people. You need to keep changing it to see something different. Go to a different class, add in some sprints or get a new weights plan.

Don’t kid yourself

It is hard to make lifestyle changes and get rid of habits that have built up over many years. Fast food is everywhere and most socialising now revolves around food and drink. No one is saying that you can’t go out or that you can’t have a drink. However factor these occasions into your plan. Eating out, having takeaways and drinking alcohol will not achieve your weight loss goals. Cutting down may see some progress but it will be slower than more radical change. The bottom line is that you need to decide what you want to achieve and how important it is to you. If you are really miserable about the way that you feel then this could be the time for you to do something about it. It has to come from you and you have to put in the effort. No one else can do it for you.

Next steps

I hope that you have found that helpful. You can use these steps whether you are starting your journey or refocusing having hit your initial goals. It really does keep you focused and gives structure for those times when you are struggling. If you want more tools and tips to help you then you can buy my book ‘ Moving More’ here. There are trackers, planners, help to get you started, recipes, workouts and more.

Here are some of the reviews from those who have already purchased the book from Amazon.

‘I enjoyed reading Clare’s book immensely. It is user friendly, full of helpful advice and taking you carefully through the stages necessary to achieve success in finding a healthier, happier lifestyle. The use of quotations from her clients is extremely motivating – if they can do it, I can. I have already recommended this book to my family and friends here and in North America.’

‘This book will have you off the sofa and moving well before you get to the end. Clare takes a simple no nonsense approach that is impossible to ignore. She is the little angel on your shoulder dismissing all your excuses with sensible and practical advice. This book is definitely worth the small investment and you also get access to lots of additional advice and support through her website. The stories of real clients making small steps are hugely motivating too. You won’t regret buying it.’

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