By MEN'S FITNESS Editors
The start of a new year is always a great time for a resolution. Everyone's got the itch to make a change for the better, and positivity is in the air. To kick-start your weight-loss journey we tapped NYC-based strength coach Sam Akinrinade, USAW-I, for his best tips on goal setting, short-term planning, and how to keep the pounds off for good.
Q1: I've tried losing weight before but got discouraged because I couldn't progress. How can I stay positive?
"Understand that beating yourself up for any slowdown in progress or plateaus is no good. Some weeks you can lose more than others. Your goals should be realistic, and the scale is only one of many ways to measure progress. Zero in on things like your energy levels, how your clothes fit, fat [versus weight] lost, and the positive feedback people give you. Also, focus more on lifestyle and activities that promote a healthier lifestyle rather than the scale, and the fat will melt off a lot faster. Counting calories and pounds too closely is a surefire way to get disappointed because it's like watching a clock tick away; the more often you look at the time, the slower it goes."
Q2: What are the short-term goals when trying to lose weight?
"Focus on one to five pounds at a time. It takes a metabolic debt of 3,600 calories to lose a pound and that can come from calories burned or calories not consumed. Short-term goals should initially be behavioral in nature, like setting a goal to go to the gym at least a certain amount of times a week more than you previously did, sticking to a healthier meal plan for at least one month, or cutting out soda or heavy drinking from now on. Little behavior adjustments add up and will eventually lead you to your big, long-term goals."
Q3: I'm six feet, 250 pounds. I'd like to get down to 200. What's a realistic time frame for me to reach my target number? Is there a safe amount of weight to lose per week?
"Assuming you plan to lose this weight and keep it off, a realistic goal would be six months to a year. Everyone's body type is different, and this is a good conservative goal for even the slowest of metabolisms. Anywhere from one to two pounds a week of weight loss is a safe, effective strategy."
Q4: How often should I weigh myself, take measurements, or look in the mirror?
"Twice a month is ideal psychologically. Once a week at most. Looking too often won't give you that same feeling of looking at the scale after a solid month of consistent training and healthy eating."
Q5: How much time do I need to give a workout program to actually work before switching things?
"At least a month to six weeks. This will ensure your body and metabolism adjust to the new stimuli for lasting results and will give your body a fair chance to improve on any strength and conditioning goals."