Tips From The Biggest Loser to Aid Your Fitness Journey
Going on a fitness journey is a tough road to travel. Roadblocks, challenges, temptations, self-doubt, old habits, mistakes — sometimes it seems like the whole world is against you. It's even harder if you don't have the right information.
These tips from The Biggest Loser have been used by people who’ve been through the show’s weight-loss process before, and they’re geared towards helping you succeed as you start on your own fitness journey.
Don't Watch Commercials
Taking a break to watch TV is fine, but you don't need to stay seated while there are commercials playing. When a commercial comes on, get up and walk around.
Or, if you're feeling like you want more of a challenge, you can do a simple exercise like holding a plank during the commercials. And if you want even more of a challenge, there are workouts that people have designed that correspond to TV shows. For example, when a character says their catchphrase, you'll do 10 sit-ups. Have fun creating your own mini commercial workouts.
Start Meal Prepping
Usually, when you’re reaching for that unhealthy frozen meal, it’s because you’ve had a long day or are stressed and don’t feel like spending extra time cooking a full meal. Or, you might want to stop eating lunch out while you’re at work. With meal prep, these problems are solved.
Prepare your meals ahead of time so you don't have any excuses not to eat healthily. Place frozen fruit and spinach in small containers so they’re ready for smoothies every morning. Cook chicken breast and brown rice and divide them into one-meal portions. Keep sliced fruit and veggies on hand to eat for a snack when you’re tempted to reach for a bag of chips.
Find Your Personal Mantra
Have a go-to phrase when the going gets tough. This should be something inspiring to rekindle your motivation and remind you why you’re working to change for the better.
For example, you can use the phrase "challenge accepted" (inspired by Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother). It really can help; even though you’ll encounter obstacles almost every day that might make you want to give up, saying "challenge accepted" tells you to work through whatever problem the universe is throwing at you. Find a mantra that speaks to you (keep it simple though) and tell yourself that mantra whenever you need to hear it.
Keep an Eye Out for Hidden Sugar
A lot of foods seem healthy, but they’re actually full of sugar. This is especially true with cereals and "health bars" or products labeled "low fat." They’re full of sugar to make up for the flavor they lack when they’re missing other nutrients like fat and protein.
Sometimes the sugar isn't even listed in the ingredients as sugar. This ingredient has other names, like sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose and agave. While they may not be exactly the same as table sugar, your body digests them as if they were. If something on an ingredients label looks suspicious, you might want to avoid it anyway.
Make Your Social Media Feed Motivational
There are tons of fitness influencers to follow on just about every social media platform. Seeing these inspirational people on your feeds when you check social media can continue to motivate you to make choices every day that align with your goals.
Checking social media is not exactly the best habit, but we live in a technology-focused society where the temptation is everywhere, so you might as well make it work to your advantage. Just make sure to not spend all of your time stalking fitness gurus online and not doing anything for yourself.
Get a Fitness Buddy
You’re more likely to follow through with a fitness plan if you have someone there to hold you accountable. Yes, going for a run at 6 a.m. doesn’t sound like fun, but in this case a little guilt can be a great motivator. You don’t want to let down that friend you made exercise plans with, right?
You’ll also have someone to talk to when you’re tempted to fall back into old habits. Feel like reaching for a cookie at the office? Call your fitness buddy instead to talk it out, and remember why you’re working so hard to reach your goals.
Don't Step on the Scale Every Single Day
One of the biggest discouragements is not seeing quantitative progress for all of the doughnuts you dodged and workouts you completed. Your weight loss progress is probably not going to happen in a straight line, though. While weighing yourself every day is tempting, it’s not a very good idea. It can lead you to obsess over the numbers, and they’re not a holistic picture of your overall health.
Pick one day every week to weigh yourself (and weigh yourself at the same time of day because your weight fluctuates throughout the day). Also, always be positive, even if it's not the number you want to see. Remind yourself to keep working hard.
Try a New Workout
Another roadblock that people on a fitness journey might face is boredom. Doing the same workout routine day after day isn’t good for you because your body can adapt. Your progress might start to stall.
Switch it up! Try something new that sounds fun. Take a Zumba class, do indoor rock climbing, take a Pilates class or grab some friends and go for a run together. You may just find a workout you love so much that it no longer takes so much effort to motivate yourself to get out the door.
Keep Track of Your Wins
Whether you keep a full-on diary/journal or just a list, make sure you’re keeping track of all of the times that you won when it came to sticking to your health and fitness goals. Make a note every time you resist the urge to eat something unhealthy and instead eat fruit or veggies. Give yourself credit when you feel too tired to work out but do it anyway.
When you take time to appreciate all you’ve accomplished, it serves as a reminder that you actually can do what it takes to reach your goals. You’re strong and committed to changing your life!
Do the "Must Dos" First
Of course you want to veg out and watch your favorite TV show. But that’s not a priority right now. Do the things that must get done (like your meal prepping and your workout of the day) first so they’re over and done with. You won’t have these tasks weighing on your mind for the rest of the day.
It’s much easier to immediately finish these to-dos first rather than do the fun things and have to drag yourself off the couch later on. Making sure your priorities are taken care of first makes the rest of the day so much more enjoyable.
Sometimes "I want to get fit" is just too broad of a goal to have, and it's not too helpful if you don't have any visual cues to motivate yourself to see what exactly you’re working towards.
Try taking a pair of pants that you want to fit into or your bathing suit that you want to feel confident in this summer. Hang these up somewhere where you’ll see them often. And move them every week or so so your eyes don’t get used to seeing them in one spot. Visually processing something that represents what you’re working towards can motivate you.
A lot of us sit all day long at our jobs. Even when you’re working out every day, prolonged sitting isn’t good for you. If you can, try standing while you work. Or, get an exercise ball to sit on instead of your chair so while you’re sitting, your legs are working to keep you balanced.
If both of those options don't work for you, take advantage of every opportunity to walk around. Instead of messaging or emailing someone in your office, walk over to their desk to relay the information.
Try the "Top of the Hour" Workout Challenge
The challenge here is to do a short exercise for one minute of every hour. So, every time the big hand hits the 12, try doing 10 sit-ups or holding a plank for 20 seconds and then doing 15 push-ups. You don’t have to follow that routine exactly. But the goal is to do something simple that, when added up over the entire day, essentially is a bonus workout.
This challenge may not work for everybody, but even if you can stand up every two hours and do some heel raises or stay sitting in your chair and do glute clenches, it can make a difference in the long run.
Have a Contest With Your Grocery Cart
While it's not necessary to fill your shopping cart with vegetables, challenge yourself to buy more fresh foods than packaged foods every time you go grocery shopping. Keep a running tally of how many fresh fruits and vegetables you have versus how many packaged foods you’re purchasing.
Every time you go shopping, try to lower the number of packaged foods compared to what you purchased last time, and reward yourself. Say every time you buy fewer than 10 processed foods, you get to splurge and buy the expensive avocados.
Use Smaller Plates
Sometimes, we get fooled into eating more because our plates are so big and we think we need to clear them. Using a smaller plate can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more food than you actually are consuming.
Using smaller plates makes it easier to eat less because they hold smaller portions. So, you might lose weight faster. But this doesn’t mean you’re allowed to not have veggies on your plate because "they won't fit." Put the healthy stuff on your plate first before filling the rest with proteins and starches.
Change Just One Thing at a Time
Often, when people decide they want to change their habits, they tend to try and tackle all of them at once. This is an unsustainable tactic that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged when you can't stick with every new habit in one day.
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so try to implement just one new habit every month. Use the rest of the days of the month to reinforce the new habit and do any prepping for the next one you plan to tackle. Keep it simple!
Don't Dwell on Your Mistakes
While it's not fun to make a mistake, it's not good for you to dwell on that mistake and get even more discouraged, either. Humans make mistakes. It’s inevitable that you’ll have setbacks or make choices you’re not totally proud of. That’s why it's good to prepare yourself to deal with these situations.
When you make a mistake, forgive yourself and move on. If you need to think through it, talk to someone you trust or write about it in your journal. Sure, it doesn’t feel great that you messed up, but you have the rest of your life to make great choices. Take it as a learning experience, and keep marching on.
Recognize False Hunger
Sometimes when we feel hungry, we actually aren't. First, make sure you’re well-hydrated. The feeling of being hungry or fatigued is sometimes due to dehydration. Next, check in with your feelings. Are you stressed? Upset? Angry?
If so, you might be itching to eat something yummy as a defense mechanism. Journal about how you’re feeling, and try to uplift yourself in a healthy way. Go for a walk, read a book or do whatever makes you feel better so you can keep moving forward.
Be Honest With Yourself
Whether you made a mistake or overestimated your ability, it’s important to be honest with yourself throughout your fitness journey. Ignoring warning signs is only going to hurt you in the end.
If you made a mistake, acknowledge it and move on. If you know you have trouble with self-control when sweets are in the house, get rid of all of the temptations. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Things like self-control come with time. Honesty is the best policy, so it’s wise to acknowledge when you’re having trouble with something. That way, you can create a plan to work through it.
Try Interval Training
Interval training is one of the most effective calorie-burning workouts you can do. That doesn’t mean that you must only do interval workouts, but try to do at least one interval workout per week. This type of workout involves doing intervals of several different activities during a set period instead of just doing one thing, like walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes.
You can do pretty much any physical activity in interval workouts, so pick your favorites and incorporate those into the routine. If you're really up for a challenge, try doing Jillian Michaels' favorite kind of interval training: high-intensity interval training. This is a compilation of short bursts of high-intensity moves. These routines combine cardio and strength moves together in one workout.
Take on a Challenge or Set a Goal
Having a goal or challenge to work on is another great motivational tool. Set a goal like fitting into your old favorite pair of jeans. Or, take on a challenge like training for a half marathon.
Having a goal or challenge to work on is another measurement where you can see the progress, which, in turn, motivates you to keep going. Seeing that you’re getting closer and closer to your goal also helps with the determination to not quit until you achieve what you set out to do.
Whether they’re motivational quotes or pictures of what you’re working towards, little reminders can go a long way. Place progress pictures on the wall next to the mirror in your bathroom, or place some pictures of outfits you want to wear in your closet.
You can also look up fitness inspiration and print out photos or write out inspiring quotes and put them around your home. They might seem cheesy, but those little reminders will make you smile and encourage you. They can also energize and inspire you when you hit a low point.
Give Yourself Some Love
Taking care of your body means taking care of your mind, too, so treat yourself at least once a week. Have a spa day, take yourself out to lunch, take a bath... Do whatever it is that makes you feel refreshed and pampered.
With a relaxed state of mind, you’re able to think clearly and make good decisions. Having the ability to make good decisions means that you can take care of your body. Take care of your mind, and your body will follow suit.
Try the Candy Bar Challenge
Pull out a candy bar and split it in half so you can see the deliciousness that’s inside. Then, take the candy bar and put it on the table in front of you. Your goal is to resist the urge to eat the candy bar.
If you want, post on social media that you’re doing this challenge and update people every couple of hours. When the day is over, throw the candy bar in the trash (and throw something gross on top so you won't fish it out later). This tests and strengthens your self-control, which can help you learn to make better decisions.
You might be thinking this sounds cheesy, but it will make you feel fantastic! When you find yourself doing something well, take the time to compliment yourself on your performance.
You might tell yourself things like "Good job for not eating that doughnut" or "Wow! Your muscles look so much more defined" or even "You smile so much more; I love that!" Complimenting yourself is a form of positive reinforcement for healthy habits, and it’ll encourage you to keep going.
Be Aware of Your Movement Throughout the Day
If you don't have a special watch or fitness tracker to keep tabs on how many steps you take during the day, just use your phone. The health apps that are built into most smartphones have step trackers. Keep a log of how many steps you take each day, and try to take at least 5,000 daily (or more!).
Even though you’re working hard and exercising regularly, the way you spend the rest of the day counts. Movement throughout the day keeps your muscles loose and clears your head while burning extra calories.
Avoid White Foods
Eating properly is all about balance, but there are some foods that you should try to avoid when possible. Those foods are usually white in color and contain lots of sugars and carbs. They include white rice, white bread, pasta, crackers and most cereals.
These foods can spike your blood sugar levels suddenly, which feels great until they give you a big crash on the way down. They also aren't filling and can leave you even hungrier — they don't contain much fiber, which is a nutrient that helps you feel full.
Make Promises to Yourself — and Keep Them
When you promise yourself something, you’re assuring yourself that you’ll take care of your body and mind. Promising yourself that you’re going to make the right decisions can motivate you to actually make those right decisions. But make realistic promises to yourself, or else the effects will be the opposite: You could get discouraged.
Also, remember that it’s okay to reward yourself when you follow through with those promises. This can create even more positive reinforcement to motivate you on your fitness journey.
Make Your Lunch Break Worthwhile
If you’re going out for lunch, try to make yourself work for it. On one episode of The Biggest Loser, the contestants had to walk a few miles to a sandwich shop to eat half a sandwich and then walk a few more miles to another shop to get to eat the second half of the sandwich.
This isn't to say you need to walk miles every lunch break, but try getting one item for your lunch at one location, and then walk to another location to get your drink. Help yourself work up an appetite.
Break the Fast Food Habit
If none of these other tips sound like a starting point for you just yet, try to challenge yourself to only do one: cut out all fast food. The meals at fast food locations are sometimes not really even food. They’re high in calories, preservatives, sodium — you name it.
If you’re able to break this habit, then you’re able to take the time to make healthier decisions about your food. Making the choice to go for the option that requires effort on your part can help strengthen your self-control so you can start to develop even more healthy habits.