What Weight-Loss Success Stories Have in Common

During my years of practice as a healthcare professional, I was frequently frustrated when my clients would come in after a backslide in their health and weight-loss goals. My clients, of course, were also frustrated. So I started paying attention to what my long-term successful clients had in common, hoping to replicate their results with those prone to yo-yo diets and extended vacations from the gym.

What I saw in every one of my patients who got healthy and stayed healthy was that they were the ones who realized that their purpose for getting healthy was about more than just themselves. These people knew exactly why they wanted to get better – to be around for their children, to dance at their daughters’ weddings, to care for their grandchildren. It’s about what you value and want to accomplish in your life, and not how you look on the beach, that leads to lasting change. That is what I have seen time and again in my practice and what I now teach.

Many others have studied what works and what doesn’t in long-term health and fitness success, but they focus more on the how’s than the why’s. For example, thanks to a study from Brown Medical School and the University of Colorado, we know that 90 percent of those who lose weight and keep it off exercise for one hour every day; 62 percent watch less than 10 hours of TV per week; and 78 percent eat breakfast every day. What the study doesn’t include is – why?

For me, this is where diets and exercise plans fail. They start with the “how” and ignore the most essential part. When I work with groups or individuals, I always begin with their goals. I urge you to write down why you are losing weight and/or getting into shape and post it on your bathroom mirror and refrigerator. Read your reasons out loud when you get up in the morning, and every time you reach for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (and especially dessert).

That said, losing weight and getting into shape shouldn’t be a slog. You’re only human and determination can only get you so far – at some point, you have to make it fun. If you don’t enjoy going to the gym for an hour every day, then join a morning hiking group, take tennis lessons, or sign up for yoga, dancing, jazzercise, ballet, or whatever makes you want to get up and move! Being fit and healthy is God’s plan for all of us, but so is enjoying life.

As you follow your health plan, whether it be MyFitnessPal, WeightWatchers, juicing, calorie counting, or The South Beach Diet, or the Paleo Diet; and as you set goals to walk or run 5Ks, hike, bike, run, or swim – always keep your reason close at hand. Because that, more than all the diets and exercises in the world, is what will fill your life with purpose, get you to your goal, and keep you there.