As part of my morning ritual, I weigh myself and take my waist measurement. Every morning. Some days I weigh a little more (Friday mornings especially as Thursday is family dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant), and some days a little less, but I’ve stayed within a four or five pound range for almost three years.
It’s not an obsession but rather merely an element of consistency in my behaviors that I established 3 years ago this week. It was then that I decided it was time for some lifestyle adjustments to further improve some health measures that were weighing on me (literally).
I wasn’t fat by typical standards, but I was certainly by my standards. No one told me that I was carrying around some extra body fat, but I wasn’t satisfied with where I was, so change was necessary. I had to make it worth my while and also make it interesting, so I decided I would challenge myself to get as lean as I could by my 50th birthday in May.
I had been at single digit body fat measures in my early 20’s when competed in bodybuilding, but I hadn’t seen that kind of physique on myself in some time, so I accepted my own challenge.
Lesson #1: There’s a sweet spot to goal setting. Set the bar too low, and it’s not meaningful enough to make any significant effort. Set the goal too high, and you’ll start off with great energy and enthusiasm… for a few days and then the amount of energy it takes to stay motivated wanes.
Strategy #1: According to Jon Acuff, author of Finish: Give yourself the gift of done, set the goal that ultimately excites you then either cut the goal in half OR double the time you’d expect to achieve it in. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds in 2 months, shoot for 10 pounds in 2 months or 20 pounds in 4 months.
For me, after taking some measures, I figured I could lose about 35-40 pounds to get myself down to about 5% body fat. That would be rather freaky lean. In my 20’s, it would have taken me about 10 weeks or so, but at 50, I gave myself almost 5 months.
Next, although I’m not an idiot when it comes to eating to lose body fat having done it in the past, to really do it right, I contacted my good friend Dr. Mike Roussell, author of The Meta Shred Diet. I’ve known Mike since before he was Dr. Mike, and there’s no one that knows more about getting lean and losing weight than him. A couple of text messages later, and I had my phase-one eating plan in my email inbox.
Lesson #2: Get the best advice you possibly can from someone that specializes in the information you need. I’m very lucky to call the best in nutrition my friend.
Strategy #2: You may be thinking that you don’t have the advantage that I had as you may not be friends with Dr. Mike. No worries. The plan that I followed IS The Meta Shred Diet. Get the book and follow the plan. It’s the easiest and most effective plane I’ve ever followed.
Finally, I established the behaviors that I would need to follow to achieve my goal by my 50th birthday. Considering my opening statement about scale weight, you’d think that checking the scale was rather important on my path to single digit body fat. Not even close.
Scale weight is historical.
It’s what we call a LAG MEASURE. A lag measure is something that is a result all things that preceded the measurement. We don’t actually control lag measures.
To lose body fat, the scale is a tiny portion of the story. It was merely a confirmation that my LEAD MEASURES were being executed effectively. Lead measures are my check-off list of behaviors that I established to support my resultant lag measures of waist measurement, body composition, and percent body fat.
Here’s an example of my lead measures:
1. Establish and maintain consistent bed and wake times
2. Eat only the food was planned and prepared ahead of time
3. Measure my portion sizes and place in storage containers to take to work
4. Perform intense strength training at IFAST twice per week
5. Perform moderately intense conditioning at IFAST twice per week
6. Meditate every morning
7. Stay within allotted calories even when eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant
8. Review my lag measures and make the smallest adjustment necessary
By focusing on the consistency of my check-off list of lead measures throughout the process, I had to make only two caloric adjustments in my eating plan and no exercise program adjustments whatsoever.
Lesson #3: Focus your energy on a few lead measures and the lag measures will take care of themselves.
Strategy #3: Enthusiasm is high at the beginning of the process and it’s temping to try to make the changes all at once. This quickly results in decision fatigue due to the energy demands of so many new behaviors. It’s best to tackle one behavior at a time. Once that new behavior is part of your routine and requires no extra effort, then add in the next behavior.
My end result?
In all, I lost 37 pounds. I hit my goal of single digit body fat and was featured in Men’s Health Magazine. It wasn’t the scale that mattered. It was the simple behaviors checked off one at a time.
Was I perfect? Not by a long shot. When I missed a meal or got to bed too late, I made sure to check off that behavior at the next opportunity. It’s not about perfection. It’s about consistency.
If you need a step-by-step approach to make your comeback, give us a call at IFAST at 317-578-0998 or email us at [email protected]