More mysterious than the alien residents of Area 51 – they’re the legendary seven percent of people who have lost weight and actually kept it off for the long term. But what about the other 93 percent, who have struggled with weight loss and continue to do so? Are you (the odds are that you’re in this group) doomed to a life of frustration and failure, with no promise of good health in sight?
Of course not! I’ve witnessed a lot of these seven percenters in action. I wondered what they do differently than the rest of us. After a non-scientific review, I was able to boil it down to a handful of key strategies and tactics that are pretty common among people who succeed. For the first time, their secrets are out.
The Seven Percent…
1. Define Their Goals. The time you take in writing down where you want to go and how you will get there is invaluable. You will go through lulls, hit walls and face a plethora of distractions. You will need the clarity of a well-defined plan to help you survive and thrive on this wonderful but challenging journey.
2. Make It Public. The seven percent generally don’t keep their weight loss efforts to themselves. They recruit supporters. They ask for help. They swap stories with friends. They give and take encouragement. Often a goal buddy is involved, or at least a positive, supportive friend who holds the dieter accountable. I personally send my clients daily texts to help encourage them and keep them on track in their thinking. Studies show that just by writing down or announcing your goals, you automatically increase your chances of success. Keeping a community journal or blog is a non-threatening, productive way to make your goals public.
3. Pay Attention. A permanent, healthy lifestyle is created on purpose. Planning, tracking, reading menus, asking questions, following progress reports… they’re all part of the seven percent strategy of knowing what’s going on and preventing setbacks. This crowd doesn’t believe in fooling themselves or relying on chance to make things happen. Usually (if not always) aware of the foods they eat, and on the lookout for opportunities to stay active, they know that good health is no accident. Nutrition trackers and fitness planners play key roles in this strategy – I recommend these phone apps: Lose It (one of my favorites), Fast Food Calories, MyNetDiary Pro and FitnessBuilder.
4. Enjoy Themselves. There’s a reason that a healthy lifestyle sticks around for this small minority. They make weight loss a positive experience and have fun with it. They focus more on the benefits to enjoy instead of the sacrifices made. Because they feel good about their goals and their new habits, they also feel good about themselves and what they’ve accomplished. Programs based on negative messages, dread, resignation or criticisms are doomed to fall by the wayside. Optimists are proven to reach more goals than pessimists. They also live healthier, longer lives.
5. Make Gradual Changes. The seven percent know that permanent change is a process, not a 21-day event. Able to see what waits on the horizon, they spend time building a few small habits at a time, rather than diving into a program that’s totally incompatible with their current lifestyle. Too much too soon is like moving to a new country and expecting to adopt the new culture and language in a week. It works much better if you simply stick around and pick up a few bits and pieces at a time.
6. Allow Themselves To Fail. It’s a guaranteed inevitability. Everyone in the seven percent has failed at some point along their weight loss journey. The difference is that they learned to forgive setbacks and refused to beat themselves up. Every failure is simply one step closer to ultimate success. With this outlook, and using lessons learned along the way, they kept these setbacks from turning into full-fledged disasters.
7. Help Others. Teaching, sharing and helping others is so incredibly joyful, but it’s also one of the best ways to keep these powerful principles in the forefront of your thinking.
Not so mysterious now that you know their secrets, is it? A permanent, healthy lifestyle may be closer than you think!