Eight Important Weight Loss Milestones to Celebrate!
When it comes to weight loss, a slow and steady pace always seems to win the race for long term results and maintenance. However, that stable pace to the finish line can feel frustrating at times, especially in the beginning of our journeys when our motivation and excitement for the ultimate goal is overly "end" focused. The best way to avoid this frustration is to break up that overarching goal into smaller, “milestone” goals along the way. Envisioning these in-process milestones (and giving yourself recognition when you meet them!) lets you reward yourself for the small changes and helps keep you on the path. Below are 8 notable milestones I set with my clients. Although each client’s journey is different and often includes additional, unique milestones pertaining to their individual challenges and successes, this list offers some fairly universal but personally meaningful ideas you can write down and commemorate in the journey ahead!
You commit to the journey.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. Although it may feel premature to celebrate the very beginning of the process, know that committing to change and becoming a better you is a bigger deal than you think. Many of us talk over and again about how we may “want” or “need” to make a change, especially when it comes to weight loss. However, many of us never even give it a go or fail to holistically think through the journey and make a plan of action. Once you’ve committed to making a change, embrace it by writing it down and sharing it with your close friends and/or family. That way you create a social support system to cheer you on along the way.
You complete your first weigh-in.
That first weigh-in can be grueling. It becomes a reality check, and many of us fear the truth and may prefer not to know. Although I’d recommend doing an initial weigh-in right from the start, I’ve had many clients whom either prefer to not weigh in or to have me do their weigh-in but not tell them the result. Even though that number might make us think negatively about ourselves, try to define the initial weigh-in as a benchmark or baseline – something to look back on to see how far you’ve come. Once you’ve completed your weigh-in, make it official by snapping a before picture. Although the “shoot” may feel just as grueling, you’ll appreciate having that photo to look back on as well. Look at the photo and tell that person you’re moving on, making changes and will never turn back!
You experience a wardrobe malfunction.
This is a must for every great weight loss story! Maybe you first notice that your pants start to sag--or fall off your behind! Perhaps you look down and see that your shirts have extra “space” in them that never existed before. Whatever the case, when the clothes “suddenly” don’t fit anymore, you’ve passed another milestone. Not surprisingly, the best way to celebrate is to purchase new clothing and/or get rid of the old clothing. I’ve had clients send me photos of “burning ceremonies” they’ve had in honor of their old, too-big clothes, but you can also simply donate your clothes as well. I’ve encouraged many clients to get professional fittings at a department store to, in effect, re-learn what looks good on their bodies and what their actual current sizes are. If you’ve got more weight to lose as part of your goal, you may not want to purchase an entire new wardrobe, but a new pair of jeans or work suit can help keep you motivated to continue toward your ultimate goal!
You receive your first “progress” compliment.
“You look great!” or “Have you lost weight recently?” are fabulous comments that you’re likely to hear on your journey. Although we’d love this positive reinforcement from the get go, the truth is it may take time for your friends and family to notice (especially in cooler seasons when you’re covered up more). You might be well into your journey before hearing your first progress compliment, but when you do, welcome it. I’ll never forget a particular client I had in my TEAM Weight Loss class when I was working at one of our Life Time clubs in Arizona. While checking her food journal as she walked on the treadmill, I mentioned to her that her pants were way too big for her now and that she should treat herself to some new workout clothes. The next week as I read through her food journal again, I noticed that on the very day I made that comment, she notated in her journal, “Anika noticed my clothes were getting too big for me!” with a big smiley face. I instantly knew what a positive impact that little comment had made on her. Indeed, she celebrated by buying herself some new workout clothing. Commemorate these comments by recording them into a gratitude journal, or even on a post-it that you can stick on your mirror to read whenever you need to!
You overcome a plateau.
If you’ve ever come to a plateau during your weight loss journey, you know that they are absolutely frustrating, unmotivating and wretched. They’re bad enough that my clients have wanted to give up and throw in the towel when they stopped seeing progress. I’ve had clients stay at a plateau for as little as a week all the way up to several months. If you prepare yourself for the idea that plateaus often happen (and are temporary), you’ll be better prepared to stay on track if/when you experience one. The best thing we can do is to remind ourselves that we are doing the right things but to also take advantage of the support and resources that can help us tweak our efforts (e.g. adjust our sleep schedules or exercise patterns). Understand, also, that your body is still changing on the inside regardless of whether you're seeing significant weight reduction during this time! Ultimately, maintaining healthy behaviors will push us through. Once you do push through a plateau, celebrate with a nice rewarding massage or a fun get-together with the people who helped you stay strong through it.
You notice on camera.
The camera is said to “add” 10-15 pounds whether it be on video or in a still photo. Because of this adage, most of us usually avoid being in photos when we don’t feel comfortable about our appearance and weight. Although it may not feel like a fun experience at the time, I highly recommend my clients take photos throughout their journeys and appreciate the sequence as they experience change. They may hate taking those very first photos, but once they start to see and note those changes on film, they really start appreciating the snowball of healthy transformation in their lives. Celebrate by posing for a photo to give yourself new updates for display in your home. I’ve had clients who arrange professional family or single photos for the first time or even celebrate with complete makeovers.
You complete an activity that felt awkward before.
Maybe it’s tying your shoes, sitting on an airplane and/or putting your luggage into the overhead bin, playing softball with your kids, etc. These are all activities from daily living that many of my clients struggled with or even avoided on a regular basis. My favorite parts of my clients’ transformation stories are the new activities and experiences they get to enjoy. When sitting on an airplane is no longer uncomfortable or no longer creates anxiety, it’s time to celebrate your success. When you’re able to bend over and reach your shoes, it’s time to celebrate. Mark the success by doing an activity that you’ve avoided or would have never had the confidence to do at your previous weight. Maybe you could join a dodgeball or volleyball league with your friends, sign up for a charity run/walk or simply book a spring break trip.
You fit into your skinny jeans.
The dress, the jeans... We all have that piece of clothing stashed in the closet (from our thinner times!) that we want to be able to fit into again. Sometimes fitting into the skinny jeans might even be a client’s ultimate goal! Whatever the case, there is something about that article of clothing that makes us feel good about our appearance – no matter how old (or out of style!) it is. Celebrate this moment by doing something else that makes you feel good about your appearance. For my ladies, I often encourage a manicure or new hairstyle. For men, I’ve often recommended getting a professional shave or waxing. Whatever you choose, it should make you feel great and boost your self-esteem!
Written by Anika DeCoster – Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss