Vaughn’s Story: Lessons Learned

success-sketch

As I have lost and gained both fitness and weight many times over the years I have tried to figure out what made this time different than all the rest. Here’s what I came up with for me:

Make small changes gradually over time instead of changing everything at once. This is really contrary to my basic nature and I still struggle with changing one small thing at a time but I think it was a huge factor in being successful.

Make changes that you can sustain over time not what you can endure for short bursts. “The healthiest weight is whatever weight you reach, when you’re living the healthiest life that you actually enjoy.” [1] If you don’t like what you are eating and what you’re doing then it will be impossible to keep it up long term. I recently saw a poster that said, “Fitness isn’t owned, it’s rented, and you have to pay rent everyday” which reinforces that the changes I’ve made have to be for life if I want to keep the results.

Make the changes for yourself not any one else. This time I wasn’t motivated by external factors to make the changes. This time I didn’t want to impress anyone, fit into a certain dress or picture people’s reaction when they saw how much weight I’d lost, all of which have motivated me in the past. This time I was doing it for me first.

Let go of the perfection mentality. I love this saying by Ze Frank, “Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he’s a little bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties.” Which is a way of reminding myself that progress not perfection is my goal. Perfection isn’t attainable and shouldn’t hold me back from what I want to do.

Set fitness goals rather than weight loss goals. Weight makes me focus on the scale too much and changes my thinking from getting healthier to being deprived of things I love. I’m in this for the long haul and setting target weights by arbitrary dates is an artifical measurement of how far I’ve come and failing to achieve these targets is demoralizing and makes me want to quit. On the other hand achieving my fitness goal of running a 5k made me feel proud and ready to try the next challenge.

Don’t let the thought of how long it will take you to reach your goal prevent you from starting. If someone had told me that it would take a year to lose about half the weight I wanted to, I would have given up before I started. A year seems like forever but the time will pass whether you’re working on it or not.

photo 5Find a trainer that you respect and is a good fit for you. I think the single biggest factor that made things work this time was that I hired a trainer. Paul is there to push me, encourage me, and hold me accountable. He is the one who figures out what exercises to do and when to do them and I can switch my overly active brain off at the gym door. He tolerates my complaining and whining. He knows when to push me and when I’ve had enough, when I’m making excuses and when I have a legitimate concern.

Thanks to Paul and Blitz I  have found a community that accepts and supports me. It’s a place I look forward to coming to rather than dreading. Usually I walk out of my workout in a much better mood than when I begin. Far from being just the enclave of elite athletes (although they have lots of them too) a lot of people at Blitz are just normal people like me trying to get fitter one day at a time.

I have to be honest that I do fear that my progress will stop or that I won’t keep up the positive changes that I have made. But I read recently that psychologists have found that people who are aware of the pitfalls that may get in their way are more likely to achieve success than those who are overly confident and assume that there will be no obstacles. So my goal for this year is to keep moving forward, learn from my mistakes, and laugh along the way.  Onwards and upwards…

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