Friends, are you flexible?

You are psyched and ready; tomorrow is the day. You made the decision to lose weight once and for all. You picked the perfect plan, stocked the fridge with the healthy foods, tossing out the junk.  You’ve joined the gym and partnered up with a friend to motivate and keep you on track.  You feel stronger than ever.
 Is there anything you are forgetting?  What about flexibility?  If you want to achieve success–real success, the kind of success that sticks–you are going to need to be flexible.
The flexibility that I’m referring to has nothing to do with achieving a yoga pose.  Nope!  This is about having a flexible mindset.  The ability to assess your progress and when you feel that you are not meeting your goal, change your mindset.  Sometimes schedules change and we are unable to workout at that “exact” scheduled time.  This is when we need a flexible mindset and not give up.  We have to find a way to fit that into the day at another time.  If you want to achieve your weight loss goal, you have to put yourself first by making sure there is time for you each day.
With weight loss, your mindset is just as important, if not more important than the diet and exercise program you choose. Without a flexible mindset, your chance of success decreases. People who can’t adapt when things don’t go as planned often feel defeated and discouraged. When you are busy beating yourself up, rather than using the time to recreate the plan, progress stops.  Many people give up trying if they do not have a flexible mindset.
Consider this scenario:  You commit to joining a weight loss program that includes weekly meetings, counting calories and attending exercise classes.  You begin and all is going well.  Then a vacation is planned or a business trip pops up and your optimism and enthusiasm plummets.  You did not plan and prepare for this and you do not have the “healthy” foods for the trip and no way to exercise.  THIS is where the “flexible” mindset has to be front and center!
Without a flexible mindset, obstacles such as this are seen as outside forces that get in your way and derail the plan.  You start telling yourself that you can’t possibly lose weight while you are away; you’ll probably gain back what you’ve already lost, so why even bother. Your lifestyle won’t allow you to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off, so you just throw in the towel and stop trying.
With a flexible mindset, on the other hand, the business trip announcement gets you to start thinking creatively.  You decide to call ahead and ask the hotel if they can put a mini-fridge in your room for your healthy foods and snacks.  You also review the fitness center and sign up for a few early morning classes. Before eating out, you review the restaurant’s website for the healthy items.   While travelling, use your extra time away from home to get an extra walk each day.  Remember, if you were at home, you would be using some time to tidy up the house so use that time away to get exercise!

Folks that have a growth mindset believe success depends on hard work, practicing new skills and seeking knowledge along the way.  Challenges in the path are opportunities to learn and grow. They look to others who have been successful with similar goals and seek advice, and it inspires them to work harder at their goals.
Clearly, the decision to adopt a growth mindset can mean the difference between weight loss success and failure.
While working on your weight loss journey, use some of these tips to adjust your mindset.  This will help you develop a more flexible approach to your healthy lifestyle plan:
1. Become aware of your self-talk, and learn to recognize when you are approaching a situation with a fixed mindset.
Positive self-talk is a game-changer when it comes to living healthy. We are our biggest critics, which means adjusting the way we talk to ourselves can turn our brains into motivation machines. Remove thought processes from your brain such as, “This idea will never work,” “I have a slow metabolism and can never lose weight,” “If I don’t have an hour to spend at the gym, why bother going at all?” and “The only way to lose weight is to never have anything but lettuce and water.” Getting rid of these kinds of statements in your brain will allow for more positive thoughts when you need to be flexible.
2. Reframe your thoughts to a growth mindset.

No matter how carefully you’ve planned for success, there will always be forks in the road:  Use some of these phrases to support positive self-talk: 

  • I’ve never tried this before. Let’s see what happens.
  • I’ll stop blaming my metabolism and work hard every day to lose weight.
  • A short workout is better than none. I’ll take the dog for a walk and go to the gym tomorrow.
  • Rigid diets never work for me.  This time, I am going to create a healthy eating plan to support sustained weight loss. 

3. Drop the extremist attitude.
Believing you are either “on” your diet or “off” your diet or you’ve been “good” or “bad,” is discouraging and can lead to you throwing in the towel the minute things get challenging. Remember you are seeking progress, not perfection.  Set intentions, not resolutions!
4. Look at obstacles as opportunities to challenge your creative self.

Whenever you hit bumps in the road or “plateaus”, get creative to stay on track.  This will make you confident and give you  a sense of pride when you’re able to devise a strategy that allows you to stick with the plan.   Keep gym clothes packed in the car for those impromptu opportunities for a quick walk.  Be the one that brings the “healthy” dish to the party to avoid all the yummy yummies at the table. 
5. Try something new and different.
Boredom with routine can kill even the best intentions. Stay invested in your journey by switching things up every so often. New healthy foods and recipes keep your plan interesting. Shake up your exercise program by trying different equipment or classes at the gym.
6. Look for non-scale victories.
Success in weight loss is not just the number on the scale.  Make sure to celebrate all the non-scale victories:

  • I can now bend down to tie my shoes.
  • I can fit comfortably into the seat on the plane.
  • I am no longer winded after climbing the stairs.
  • My kids can reach their arms around my waist to hug me.

Losing weight and keeping it off is often a journey of trial and error. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. What works for you at one stage of life, may not at another. Rather than choosing a fixed diet and exercise program, try a flexible one that leads to healthy lifestyle habits.  

Remember that having that “flexible” mindset with not only healthy eating and exercise, but with all aspects of your life, will bring better health both mentally and physically and much happiness and contentment for you.

Be well!

Sherry Jenko, NDTR, Group Lifestyle Balance Coach

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