by Mark Rullo MS, CSCS, MES
Here we go again: will it be a “New Year, New You” or not? Truth be told, this is the time of year that the majority of people make a commitment to themselves to lose weight, get more fit and just become healthier overall. Statistically, weight loss is the number one resolution, with 45% of Americans citing it as their goal. Unfortunately, only 8% of people who make the commitment to lose weight actually do.
Through the years, we have found two primary reasons why people either reach their goal or give up: Motivation and Direction.
Direction is making sure that your time, energy and even money are expended with a correct plan to achieve your goal. Motivation is the emotional reason to actually want to see that goal become a reality.
An individual can be extremely motivated to lose weight; however if they are provided with the wrong information, more times than not, they will stop in frustration because the results do not match their efforts (check out my previous LMP article –Nov 2013 “Why Gyms Make You Fat”). On the other side, if an individual has the most scientific, evidence-based game plan for weight loss (Hierarchy of Fat Loss) but does not have a burning desire to see the change become a reality, more times than not, that individual will not follow the necessary behaviors to see the desired expected results.
I often explain Motivation and Direction using the analogy of wanting to see the sun rise. If your goal is to see the sun rise, it wouldn’t matter how motivated you were if you were told to look west every morning (wrong direction). In a like manner, if you didn’t care to see the sun rise it wouldn’t matter if someone was telling you to get up early and look east. It’s good information but you just don’t have the motivation to see the sun rise.
As an Exercise Physiologist and weight loss expert, my goal is to keep individuals heading “East” relative to the weight loss goal; however to make sure individuals stay the course, we need some emotional “glue” to help with adherence to the program (directions). This emotional adherence is your Reason / Y-Factor.
When individuals are highly motivated, the commitment and discipline of following through an effective exercise and nutrition program is not an issue, and RESULTS are achieved. However, when motivation is missing, individuals many times leave success up for chance.
It takes some soul searching and digging but most people find that their motivation stems from an emotional response to the avoidance of pain, acquisition of pleasure or a combination of both. This is a term we refer to as the Y-FACTOR .
Your Y-FACTOR is not a specific goal (e.g., inches lost, %body fat, lean body mass, etc.) that can be measured, rather the reasons WHY you want this change. To best explain the concept of the Y-FACTOR, I have provided an example of a former client.
A young female in her mid-twenties came to see me about losing weight. The first thing I asked was why she wanted to lose some weight. Looking a little puzzled and wondering why I was asking her this, she said because of her wedding coming up in six months. Having some fun with her, I joked that I was curious what religion she was because I am catholic and, as far as I know, we don’t have to lose weight to get married. She laughed and said her religion doesn’t require that she lose weight to get married but she went on to explain WHY she wants to make a change.
To paraphrase her story, the young lady explained to me that since she was a little girl, she dreamed of her wedding day and wearing the wed-ding gown that has been passed to her from her mother. At the time, the gown didn’t fit the way she pictured it, and she knew that if she could lose some inches it would. Also, she said, sticking her arms out in front of me and mentioning how fair-skinned she is, if she didn’t make a positive change she had a fear of walking down the aisle on the most important day of her life looking like a giant snowball!
Immediately with enthusiasm I said “GREAT!,” not because she may look like a giant snowball on her wedding day, but because she now had the ammunition to motivate herself and achieve her goal. I continued to explain to her that she now had her Y-FACTOR to help her through the tough days when she didn’t feel like staying with the program. Her Y-FACTOR has both emotional responses, the fear of looking like a snowball on the most important day of her life, and the pleasure of fulfilling her childhood dreams of her wedding day.
The short-term goals, measurements, body fat %, etc were monitored every 1-2 weeks to assist with her accountability and make sure she was on track to reach her goal on her wedding day. However, it was the Y-FACTOR, the fear of looking like a snowball and the pleasure of a child-hood dream becoming a reality, which provided her the personal self-drive, motivation, and discipline to follow through with the daily exercise and nutrition prescription.
This “Fear of the Snowball” ex-ample illustrates the power of emotion and how we do things out of emotional want well before any actual logic or need. The woman above logically knew that she needed to lose weight regardless of any wedding. Even though she knew she needed to lose weight she simply didn’t want to lose weight badly enough to stick with any program. Once she was able to identify that emotional factor it was only a matter of getting her on the right plan of attack. Not every person I work with can identify their Y-Factor immediately, but those who do have always met and/or exceeded their targeted goals.
So how do you make sure you are part of the 8% who make a New Year’s resolution a reality when it comes to weight loss? First, identify why you want to lose the weight. Identify what fear, pain or pleasure the extra weight you are carrying is causing you. Once identified, get on a personalized plan that incorporates the “hierarchy of fat loss” to eliminate the guesswork and let the science work for you while leveraging your Y-factor for the days when you want to be the poster child for anti-exercise and poor nutrition.
Without an emotional reason, more times than not, the excuse (no-time, lack of energy, work, family, sickness, money, etc.) will win. How-ever a goal tied to an emotional reason and an effective plan of action will put you on the winning side of this year’s weight loss resolution.
For more information, please feel free to consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®. Additionally as an on-going thank you to Laurel Mountain Post and its readers, mention this article for a FREE, no obligation, personalized, metabolic nutritional formula and fitness program that will leverage the “hierarchy of fat loss.” If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal then you need a program, as any goal without a plan is really only a wish!
As an added incentive for people new to My Fitness Kitchen®, by mentioning this Laurel Mountain Post article and after meeting with one of My Fitness Kitchen’s Fitness Professionals for a private consult, as offered above – you will receive $50 “Kitchen Cash” to be used toward any program or service at My Fitness Kitchen® as a courtesy of the Laurel Mountain Post.