5 tools to help you lose weight

We’re past the fanfare of resolutions (phew!). But the ads for weight loss apps and hacks keep coming. They always will. The trick is to separate the promises from the actual tools for weight loss.

And not for the reason you think.

I have no scientific opinion to back me up. But I think most of the tools on the market probably “work.” 

You’ve got to assess what the tool actually does and decide how you’ll use it. Like with wearables, how you interpret the data is crucial. Simply tracking your steps or watching your Apple Watch circles close is only useful if you make it useful. 

Or joining a gym…exercise options abound, but how will you get yourself to go? And motivate yourself to be consistent? And continue to push yourself when it would be easier to just ride the same old recumbent bike while watching the in-gym TV?

Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash

When you transform how you think, everything changes. Your body included. Use these 5 tools to help you lose weight and stay on track:

  1. Pen to paper: You must regularly look at what’s going through your mind. The “I’m never able to stick with it” or “I wish I could lose weight” thoughts are poison. And they’re running the show. Writing down your thoughts lets you see why you’re getting the results you are. I love this Journal. It’s lined with quality paper and comes in lots of colors. Of course you can use Google Docs, a Word document or any online tool. 
  2. Action Brainstorming Worksheet: This tool is unexpectedly simple. You’ll be surprised how it focuses your planning. Write your goal down. Then brainstorm all the things you need to stop and start doing, do less/more of, and continue doing. Get all your ideas on paper. Then decide which ones to implement first and plan for the others. (Email me for a copy if you don’t already have it.)
  3. Online workouts: Take 30 minutes to search YouTube for the variety of workouts you need. (Or “shop” your own current inventory of videos and workout plans.) I recommend three kinds – for ideal circumstances; for travel; for backup. The first is when your work schedule is “as expected” and everyone’s healthy. Travel is for business or pleasure, plane or automobile, hotel or home of a friend. Backup is for everything else (like the expected hiccups that we tell ourselves are unexpected). Have at least three in each category and you’ll always be able to stick with your exercise plan.
  4. Wearables: When used correctly, the data can help you lose weight. Decide what to track. You can go as simple as a pedometer or as sophisticated as Levels, a device for continuous glucose monitoring. The wearable I use is Whoop (this link gives both you and me a free month when you go with Whoop). I find the feedback on sleep, strain and recovery incredibly helpful. Another favorite is Polar (I used it for 20+ years and several of my clients use it, too). Of course there’s Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmen, Lumen…choose one and have fun.
  5. Support/accountability: To stay on track with the habits to reach and maintain your body’s ideal weight requires that you create a lifestyle you actually enjoy. The key is, don’t do it alone. Find out how coaching together can have you following through consistently, feeling and looking better than you have in years. 

People ask me which is most important. It’s #1 and #5. When you get control of the thoughts that sabotage you, and learn to manage your mind, transformation happens. And all the other tools for weight loss are like fuel on the fire of your motivation, instead of a bucket of water dumped on what little spark you might have had.

Does an Apple Watch help you lose weight?

What do devices, like Apple Watch and FitBit actually do? Will they give you motivation to lose weight? Will they help you keep it off?

Let’s start with what they can track. The list is pretty impressive:

  • Activity (calories burned, steps taken)
  • Heart rate (intensity of exercise, resting heart rate, HRV)
  • Sleep (deep, REM, light, wake time, blood oxygen levels)
  • Personal metrics (resting metabolic rate, skin temperature, blood glucose levels, levels of strain and recovery)

But how does all of this affect your results? And how can you use it for motivation to lose weight?

Wearables are helpful for setting up your plan. Tracking your progress. Making decisions about when to change your plan. Let you know when you can push harder. Or when you need to pull back.

Sounds great. What’s the drawback?

They don’t make you follow through. And depending on how you interpret the data, can demotivate you and set the stage for a backslide.

You might selectively track data that doesn’t challenge you or move you forward. The numbers can become meaningless. Or a constant reminder that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do.  

So what’s the difference between your Apple Watch or Fitbit helping you with the motivation to lose weight versus feeling like a nagging mother-in-law who thinks you’ll never be good enough for her baby?

The difference is your mindset. Why you decide to wear it. How you choose to think about the numbers. Intentionally viewing the data to motivate you. To provide the feedback you need to keep going. 

Another important note: The calorie burning info from wearables is inaccurate and incomplete. Even so, they provide a consistent measurement to use as a barometer for improvement. But don’t expect to measure calories in and calories out with any degree of success – I actually recommend NOT counting calories.

motivation to lose weight
Photo by Blocks Fletcher on Unsplash

Which wearable you use is less important than using it the right way. As data to inform your future decisions. Not to lament what you didn’t do.

Set yourself up for success. When you create your plan, use your wearable to get a baseline (i.e., look at what you want to track and then measure where you are right now). Don’t make the mistake of jumping right into setting goals and tracking info without a true look at your current habits. That can lead to your desire outstripping your capacity.

Then set your goal and track the info. If you use the data correctly, it can help you follow through consistently. That’s how your wearable becomes motivation to lose weight.

How feeling like Meryl Streep can help you lose weight

Do you ever wonder how an actress like Meryl Streep can take on a myriad of roles, like that of a witch to Amanda Prisetly, with such believability? 

Well sure, but what the #$%^ does that have to do with losing weight, Heather?

Quite a lot. To become someone else requires an actress to think and feel like someone she is not. The same is required for achieving any big goal. 

When I start working with a client, often she feels stuck because of all the things she’s tried to lose weight that didn’t work. And that’s because she doesn’t know how to move beyond it. Her past feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy that keeps coming true. 

And that’s because instead of understanding the internal work needed, she’s focused on the “thing out there” that will make it happen this time. But when the diet, supplement, fancy app, or infomercial product isn’t working or sustainable, it confirms that she can never stick with her healthy habits.

So, back to Meryl. In order for us to believe that she is a powerful fashion magazine editor, she has to become one. And she has to practice. A lot. And more than just memorizing and reciting lines, she has to feel into the role, to become Amanda Priestly. 

That’s how any of us make changes in who we want to become. It starts by clarifying the fit and healthy lifestyle we want, the equivalent of the script for playing a role.

Photo by Ron Lach : https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-in-black-shirt-writing-on-white-paper-8085938/

And then we practice. But just as Meryl Streep does more than rote memorization, we also must feel this new identity to truly prepare ourselves for the role of our future self. Neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay says, “You can practice emotions in advance of a situation by teaching your brain the most useful way to respond in a situation. Actors do this all the time. The emotions they feel on stage are real because they rehearsed their creation.”

Try it. Picture yourself as the fit and healthy you that you see in your head. Close your eyes and practice being her. What does she think? How does she feel? How does she respond to typical challenges? Go about your day as her. Believe me, this is essential to becoming her. 

And hey, when you have a coach by your side this kind of work becomes easier and you reach your health and weight loss goals more quickly.

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