It’s been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We’ve all heard this phrase from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. That sounds great and all, but the single step is still just 1/1000 of the overall workload – so how are you supposed to get all excited over the first step?
Instead of Chinese philosophy, let’s look to the science of momentum and inertia (don’t worry – we won’t get too scientific or dwell for too long).
The amount of energy or force required to put an object in motion is usually greater than the energy or force required to keep an object in motion (there are, of course, exceptions to this generality, but let’s not nerd-out just yet). And Newton’s First Law of Motion tells us that once an object is in motion, it takes a significant amount of force to stop it.
ONCE YOU GET STARTED ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY, IT BECOMES EASIER AND EASIER TO KEEP GOING AS YOU CONTINUE.
And the good news is that getting started is simplified in weight loss, because the first step will always be the same for 100% of the people who are trying to lose weight, and it’s the easiest half of our preparation.
Ready? Here it is:
Step One: Define what success looks like to you.
Decide how you’ll define your success and WRITE IT DOWN. Is it pounds lost? The fit of your favorite jeans? The number of uninterrupted minutes you can spend running? Whatever it is, define it. And make it a part of your tracking habits. Tracking weight? Weigh yourself regularly and write it down. Tracking the fit of your clothes? Take a pic in your favorite jeans twice a week. Minutes spent running? Create a running or activity log.
You MUST have a clearly defined goal and measurement chosen in order to know when/if you’ve created your success story. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” You have to say, “I want to lose 10 pounds by the time we open the pool this year.” Or “I want to fit into my favorite jeans before my high-school reunion.” And write it down. Write it down several times. Put it with your tracking logs/journals/diary/whatever you choose. Write it on a post-it note and stick it on your fridge or in the cupboard with those crackers you always run to at the end of a long day. Stick one on your mirror in the bathroom or on your closet door.
This step, although simple, can make or break you when it comes to sticking to your goals.
Consider this: big change is the result of a series of small, targeted actions executed consistently over a period of time. Take for example the Grand Canyon. This marvel of nature wasn’t created by one, giant, defining event – it was carved out of the earth over a period of time, the result of erosion happening on a scale so small, you couldn’t tell it was happening apart from the emergence of the canyon!
This is why people who create a series of small, seemingly unimpressive goals are often more successful than people who set big, headline-worthy goals. You don’t get your Masters Degree by showing up on a school campus one day and performing one giant, remarkable feat. You go credit by credit, class by class, assignment by assignment, semester by semester.
Think about it this way: which seems more doable to you? Finishing your first 5K or winning your age group in your first marathon?
Probably the 5K, right? And that’s because most of us haven’t run a marathon before, so the idea of winning our age group seems preposterous. But what if we win our age group in some 5ks? And then did the same in a few half marathons? Now that marathon seems in reach right?
Winning a marathon is a GREAT goal. But it shouldn’t be your FIRST goal. Take your pipe-dream fitness goals and break them into small, simple SMART goals and see how quickly you find yourself considering that marathon.
You probably learned about SMART Goals at some point in your life, but because this is important, let’s do a quick review:
What is a SMART Goal? A SMART Goal is …
Let’s dissect the previous example to create a SMART Goal for running your first 5K:
Specific: I want to run (and finish) my first 5k race in September
Measurable: I will run three times a week for 8 weeks to prepare (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays before work)
Achievable: I am in good health and have no medical issues or concerns preventing me from running a 5k, and 8 weeks is sufficient time for me to train for a 5k
Realistic: People run official and unofficial 5ks all over the world every day
Time Bound: the 5k is in 8 weeks on [date] at [time]
Now that you know WHAT you want to accomplish (and how to turn that into an actionable SMART Goal), it’s time for Step Two of Getting Started on your weight loss journey. And that post is coming soon, so keep an eye out – but for now – focus on getting step one right.
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