Weight loss programs are a $66 billion industry in our country. To say they are popular with Americans would be a major understatement.

And lots of times, provided the program either lowers calories consumed or increases calories burned, people will see results initially.

The issue for many, unfortunately, is that once the motivation wears off, things go right back to where they were before.

And there is a very clear, obvious reason for this that often gets overlooked.

Because the first step in any weight loss program that will deliver long-term results is to ask this critical question:

“What is the REAL reason that caused me to gain weight or eat unhealthy in the first place?”

Once you confront that underlying reason, you are going to be far more likely to drop weight and keep it off over time.

So what could that reason be? Typically it falls into one or more of these three categories:

Psychology & Recovery

Could your weight gain simply be stress related?

In the first summer we opened Power Source, I was coaching literally around the clock. Starting at 7 AM we’d run sessions at an off-site location, then I’d drive to our Leominster facility to run a 2 hour elite college/pro hockey private training. As soon as that ended, we’d open up for evening workouts until 8 PM. This went on 5 days per week for 12 weeks.

When that summer ended I stepped on a scale and realized I’d unknowingly gained 15 pounds in just 3 months!

In order to deal with the stress of trying to keep my business growing, I began to use food as a coping mechanism. A bag of chips here, some ice cream there, and BOOM! 15 pounds gained.

Perhaps on a smaller scale the same thing is happening with you. Because of stress at work, home or elsewhere, you’re turning to food as a way to soothe over negative feelings.

You could also be eating more because you’re not sleeping well. Or perhaps you are just not spending enough time each day doing things you enjoy, so food becomes that one enjoyable thing.

The point is this – there are a lot of reasons unrelated to the food itself that could be causing you to eat poorly.

And if you do not first confront and fix these issues first, they are going to sabotage your diet the minute your initial enthusiasm wears off.

Overall Eating Habits

Should you eat 3 meals per day? 6 meals per day?

There is no easy answer to this question, because we are all different.

What is critical, though, is that we each listen to our bodies and use both hunger and fullness cues to determine when we should eat, and when we have eaten enough.

Just because the health expert on TV said to eat a snack at 2:17 each afternoon doesn’t mean you should…unless that happens to be the time of day that you are ravenously hungry.

Stop listening to outside experts, and start listening to the one and only expert on your personal nutritional needs.

Your own body.

Nutrition & Exercise Specifics

Once you have resolved the underlying reasons why you might be making bad food choices, or overeating, the next step is to dig in to improving your food choices and activity levels.

Stunningly, only 3% of North Americans do all of the following:

  • Avoid tobacco use
  • Eat 5 fruit and veggie servings per day
  • Exercise 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes per day

These are fundamentals, basic things we all knew decades ago were

critical to our health. Yet 97% of us are not pulling off this trifecta.

And there are other fundamentals that you almost certainly know are important, like:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Eating quality protein sources
  • Avoiding processed foods

These are not areas you need expert advice on, nor do you need to invest hundreds of dollars to find the secret to getting leaner.

You just need to hit the fundamentals of eating and fitness, and you need to do it consistently.

So Where Do You Begin?

Before you venture in to some radical weight loss program, I’d strongly recommend you start by looking at these three categories above. Does one stand out to you as needing to be addressed? More than one?

If so, this is where your energy is best spent for now. Because once you dial these basics in, you are going to do far better with a structured weight loss plan than you would have otherwise. And, it is more likely to stick over the long term.

Invest in your foundation first, and once it is set everything you build on top of that will stand the test of time.

And who knows? Perhaps the changes you make in these areas end up brining you all the weight loss you ever wanted.

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