Pick up just about any nutrition-related book out there, and you will find promising claims and supposedly “all the answers” to successfully losing weight (and keeping it off forever, of course). All you need to do is follow this specific set of rules, and you’ll be ten kilos lighter in no time.

“And why isn’t everyone using this magic weight loss plan successfully already?” – you may want to ask.

Well, quite obviously, they failed to follow every single guideline, and only perfect behaviour can ever be rewarded with amazing results.

People are unfit and overweight simply because they’re failing to make all the right choices, and even a single donut crumb brought on your plate by a breeze ruins everything. Because you made a choice to be perfect, and you couldn’t commit…right?

Wrong. Luckily, all of the above does not relate to reality in any shape or form, and the truth is much more simple and much more complicated at the same time.

The thing is, there is most definitely no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to weight management. What works for someone – or thousands, or millions – may be a complete failure for you.

In other words, by following their perfect plan, you won’t achieve anything! Our bodies have different genetics, are prone to entirely different health issues and respond differently to different foods [1].

In philosophical terms, in the constant pursuit of success, all of the choices that are presented to you are just illusions. And yet, people tend to get distracted by these “revolutionary solutions” and “weight loss miracles” time and time again, questioning themselves and sabotaging their success.

If the way you handle these choices is pivotal to your success, and if choices are just mirages, how can you weed through all of the distractions?

The only power you can use in such situations is solid knowledge. In this article, we will review some simple yet solid ways to set you on the path of success.

Success Requires Taking Risks

We’re about to uncover one of the secrets of successful people straight away. You see, successful people have learned that being comfortable taking calculated risks can only bring positive change!

Many times, we stay in the same situations because we are fearful – and there is a perfect evolutionary explanation for that. Ever heard of the “comfort zone”? Let’s look into the concept a bit further.

In terms of evolution and survival – according to a classic experiment in psychology [2], “a state of relative comfort creates a steady level of performance”. The space where this state is achieved is – you guessed it – the comfort zone.

In order to maximise performance, however, we have to step out of this cozy zone and reach a state of relative anxiety [2]. It doesn’t mean we need to engage in behaviours that are self-destructive a priori.

Instead, it means that doing something that you are quite sure is right, but you can’t be 100% certain (how can you be certain if you haven’t lost a lot of weight on purpose before?).

Don’t let fear control you. Use it as motivation, but be above it, and test the waters one confident stroke at a time.

Success Requires Evolution

You may have heard that “the strongest survives”, and it’s often called an evolutional postulate. However, what was supposed to be quick summary has destroyed the original meaning completely!

In fact, Charles Darwin stated (and spoiler: he got it right) that “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” In other words, you don’t need to be made of steel to win – you just need to be highly adaptable!

What worked in the past, can stop working suddenly – and instead of repeating the same thing over and over again, in order to succeed you must come up with an alternative solution.

Injured your knee and can’t do step-ups anymore? Do more upper-body work or ask your personal trainer if there are appropriate exercise substitutes for you. Developed a chicken breast allergy, and it “ruins” your diet plan? Swap it for some other lean protein source and move on. You get an idea.

And one last thing: success is in the details, and the most successful people never tire doing the fundamental tasks that support their goals and enjoyment. Evolve, but preserve the base if it works!

Don’t Let Perfectionism Ruin Everything

Perfection is, by definition, a state of being perfect. Perfect at exercising every single day as per your training schedule, perfect at never touching the items that didn’t make it to your weight loss shopping list, perfect at never thinking about “cheating” of any sort.

And guess what? This state – again, by definition – simply does not exist.

The sole purpose of perfectionism is to serve as a moving target somewhere far far away. Persistently chasing absolute perfection is like chasing the rainbow, or your own shadow.

Don’t be obsessed with constantly making things “better” or not even approaching them if it’s not possible. By wasting energy on those minuscule details, you are focusing all your energy and attention on something that likely doesn’t exist!

And it’s not your fault. If you think about it, as children, we grew up associating absolute perfection with something great and desirable. As a society, we also praise perfection and admire the concept.

Some of us look around and grow wiser, and if you managed to escape perfectionism, stay that way. Enjoy your birthday cake, and opt for going out with friends instead of that gym session every once in a while. You’re awesome.

If you’re still pursuing perfection and keep beating yourself up for every little detour, you must stop right now. Strive for balance and excellence, not perfection, in all areas of life. Treat failure as a catalyst for problem-solving and change, and find a way to enjoy every step.

Remember, as long as your friends and loved ones are alive and in good health, there is always another chance for everything in life. Ditch perfection and cherish every moment of the journey.

Communicate Well, Inside and Out

Self-talk is powerful. What you think and say to yourself eventually becomes habit, and then drives your practice, competition, and life.

However, not all kinds of self-talk are created equal! Way too often, the pattern of self-talk we use is negative, which is actually very harmful. We can’t help remembering all the negative things we were told by our friends, parents and siblings when we were little, even though they didn’t always really mean it.

Before you notice, you find yourself always exploring the worst case scenario. “I will never lose all the weight!”, “I’m too fat to even try exercising, it’s pointless and I won’t be able to do much anyway”, and likewise.

Try the following exercise. Take any of your negative thoughts, rip it apart and replace with a positive one. And don’t give up if it takes some time – you’ll find the right words, just keep trying!

For instance, when “I’m too fat for this” crosses your mind next, transform it into “Although I’m not the best version of myself right now, joining this activity will only make me better”.

With a Defined Purpose, Choices Make Themselves

Creating your own unchanging purpose will guide your decisions along the way and make the vision of your future distinct and well-defined. All you need to do is to set a clear goal that truly motivates and inspires you.

Remember – excuses will always be there for you, opportunity won’t. When we embrace the possibilities, open our minds and see the goal clearly, opportunity always occurs. All you need to do is catch it.

Remember this…

When it comes to making a choice, human nature makes us feel extremely uncomfortable. We don’t like being forced to make difficult decisions, and we tend to resist compulsion.

However, just because certain things exist, it doesn’t matter we need to include them in our lives. Fad diets, perfectionism-driven approaches and crazy exercise goals are definitely among some of the things we want to leave far behind before starting a successful weight loss journey.

Determine your motivating goal. Get some help from a professional personal trainer if needed – sometimes a couple of well-formulated questions from a trained professional can help you see the way clearly. Enjoy and cherish every day, celebrate mini-victories and make mistakes opportunities for growth and development.

In other words, embrace who you truly are – and keep moving, no excuses attached.

References

  1. Bellanti, J.A. (1984). “Prevention of food allergies.”. Ann Allergy. 1984 Dec;53(6 Pt 2):683-8.
  2. Yerkes, R.M. & and Dodson, J.D. (1908). “THE RELATION OF STRENGTH OF STIMULUS TO RAPIDITY OF HABIT-FORMATION”. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology, 18, 459-482.