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Want to Meet Your New Year's Fitness Goals? Treat Them Like a Journey and Not a Destination

We don’t automatically assume that women who don’t develop wrinkles as they age have stumbled upon some magical moisturizer or used religiously some anti-wrinkle cream in their youth. We need to give weight and body type the same respect.

It’s a new year, and that means we’re all waking up to a list of new year’s resolutions we’re determined to complete. At the top of the list for many of us is weight loss—we stand ready to do whatever it takes to reach our fitness goals.

And as if on cue, we’re bombarded with a barrage of weight-loss advertisements: food plans that promise 10 pounds in 10 weeks, exercise equipment that promise a miraculous caloric burn in less than 20 minutes, and bikini-clad images reminding us that “summer bodies are built in winter.” Evidently these products and their well-designed ads seem to understand our bodies better than we do and they’ve got the ultimate solution to all our weight-control issues.

So why do so many of us find it hard to reach our fitness targets? Maybe it’s time to rethink the definition of health and weight-loss success for the 21st-century woman. Here are three sure-fire ways to turn your fitness new year’s resolution into a goal you can actually meet.

Embrace your unique body.

For the first week of the new year, we’re fairly committed to the new year’s eating and exercise plan we’ve laid out. Hitting the gym and cutting out sugar or carbs is a no-brainer, and for the first few weeks it’s smooth sailing. But as time wears on it gets harder to keep up. What’s happening?

Perhaps it’s a question of what’s not happening. While we’re busy following a standardized regimen, no one’s asking us about our body type, genetics, or overall lifestyle. All these issues play a part in what our body will look like, the amount of calories it needs to survive, and how we respond to any weight-loss program.

It’s time to redefine heath and fitness for the 21st century woman.

For example, women who descend from a parent who struggled with weight gain are 35-40 percent more likely to struggle with obesity, which means that her weight loss goals may be different—and likely more of a challenge—from a woman who descends from a naturally-thin parent.

We don’t automatically assume that women who don’t develop wrinkles as they age have stumbled upon some magical moisturizer or used religiously some anti-wrinkle cream in their youth. We instead give credence to genetics and appreciate that some women, particularly those with more melanin, age better than others.

We need to give weight and body type the same respect. Embracing the uniqueness of our bodies allows us to set our own timing and targets for weight-loss which can help keep us on track to meet our goals. One woman may take 5 weeks to lose 10-15 pounds while another may take 15-20 weeks to lose the same amount of weight. We should never assume that one size fits all. Respecting the uniqueness of our bodies is key to succeeding in weight management. Numbers on the scale are abstract—what matters most is our individual health and wellness.

Know That Your Emotional Health and Physical Health Are Equally Important

There’s a reason the diet industry is a 66-billion dollar market: because so many of us are trying a multitude of products and plans, hoping that this time we’ll reach our weight-loss goals. But more often than not, we either fail at our attempts to lose weight or gain back the weight we’ve lost. It’s no wonder so many of us just want to get off the weight-loss wheel.

Imagine for a moment if the same products that promise lifelong weight-loss results also had a life-long plan for managing our stressful lives? Now that would be a weight-loss product that actually works! And there lies the problem: weight management programs and plans only help us with one aspect of weight control. They don’t hold our hands during times of physical and emotional stress.

So the next time you fall off the wagon, don’t blame it on lack of determination. Instead, understand that you are simply more determined to meet head-on the challenges facing you right now. You’re smart enough to know that focusing on overcoming life’s hardships is more important than numbers on a scale. Think about the amount of effort and concentration you’ve put into your weight-loss program thus far. Now pat yourself on the back for choosing to place that same effort into overcoming the obstacles you’re facing.

Case in point: Glam Masters host and acclaimed makeup artist Kandee Johnson expressed her frustration at trying to manage a weight-control program while dealing with the impending death of her grandmother.

For six months she was on track to meet her weight-management goals but had to put her program aside when her grandmother became ill. She writes about the emotional toll of not being able to control her body and eventually giving herself permission to let go of her fitness target.

“I was on target to hit my goal of being in the ‘best shape of my life’ by my birthday,” she writes. “But then my grandma was hospitalized. Being worried about her and spending days and nights in the hospital, I was eating whatever they had from the Starbucks in the hospital lobby for most of my meals. My heart was breaking, I was emotionally & physically exhausted. I never met my birthday goal and I didn’t care.”

None of us knows what curve balls life will throw at us so it’s important not to let our weight-loss goals take power over our mental and emotional health.

Treat Weight Management As a Journey, Not a Destination

Everyone is sure that this is the year they’re going to lose 10, 30, or ever 100 pounds and keep it off forever. We’ve got news for you—it will creep behind you when you’re not looking and attach itself like the world’s strongest barnacle. The question is not whether or not you’ll keep it off, but what to do when it starts to come back.

The best way to keep your sanity in a body that has a mind of its own is to view your weight loss program as fluid. That means some days you’ll stay within your salt intake goals while other days might be filled with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. What’s important is knowing that taking the time to enjoy life today—which may mean two slices of decadent chocolate cake—will give you the fuel and energy you need to stay in line with your weight-loss goals tomorrow. Remember, weight loss is a journey, not a destination.

And understand that in the world of today’s woman, change is the only constant. If a weight-control program is too challenging, consider making a change. Maybe the green shakes you consumed last week just aren’t cutting it today and it’s time to add in a few more of your favorite foods. The key is knowing what your body needs and not comparing yourself with others. Ultimately you are the one who wakes up every morning with this body and the responsibility of keeping it healthy lies with you. Today you fitness goal might include drinking blended shakes and tomorrow you could choose to count points or calories. Or maybe it’s time to talk with your doctor about bariatric surgery. Bottom line, you hold the key to your health and you have the right to create a program that works for you.

You are the captain of your ship

Ultimately, the best person to decide what works for your body is you. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not easy, especially in the fast-paced, stressful world in which we live. Our advice? Don’t be hard on yourself. Let your body guide you and trust that it knows what’s best for you. Despite what others think they know about you—especially those with “proven results that work”—they don’t live in your body. So the truest health advocate for you, is you.

And finally, since this is a sisterhood, let’s remind ourselves to support women at every point in their health and weight management journey.

Happy New Year!

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