Memorial Day has passed, pools have opened and the school year is coming to a close. That’s right, summertime is upon us. For many of us, that means hitting the gym and trying to shed those wintertime pounds – the “hibernation layer” as I like to call it – before basking in the warm, summer rays.
When it comes to weight loss and exercise routines, I’ve tried it all: raw food diets, CrossFit, WeightWatchers, kickboxing, lemon cayenne pepper cleanses (yes, that’s a thing), about 37 BeachBody video series, and everything in between. Thus at age 23, I consider myself a pseudo fitness and dieting expert.
How does this relate to your work with the public sector, you may be wondering? Well, I’ve noticed over the years that the most effective strategies for shaping up and slimming down carry over into other areas of my life. Beyond that, I think many of these best practices can be applied when implementing a new program or policy in the public sector.
Below are some of my tips for creating successful weight loss and exercise routines. See if you can identify how they might relate to public management and be used to affect change in your organization.
- Set realistic goals. It’s easy to be a bit overzealous, especially at the beginning of a new plan. It’s better to set smaller attainable goals and then step it up as needed over time. That way, you avoid burn out and are motivated to keep going.
- Fad diets don’t work. A good green smoothie cleanse may be good every once in a while, but overall, trendy diets don’t produce long-lasting results. Sustainability is key when developing a diet or workout routine.
- Keep a food/workout log. I’ve often been surprised at how much I eat throughout the day, even when I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job. Tracking food – not necessarily calories – can help you identify areas where you can make some small changes that yield positive results.
- Have a partner(s) in crime. Let’s face it: you’re a lot more likely to go to the gym if you’re going with a friend. Having a team of like-minded allies will encourage you to stay on track, and avoid that dangerous piece of late-night chocolate cake.
- Stretching is crucial. Most people prefer to plop down on the couch after a tough workout instead of taking a few minutes to cool down and loosen their muscles. Improving your flexibility not only reduces stress, but it cuts down on recovery time and makes future workouts more effective.
- Listen to your body. Feeling overly tired, achy, or hungry? Your body has myriad ways of communicating its needs. Pay attention to signs that indicate something isn’t quite right and address them as best as you can.
- Don’t be discouraged by small slip-ups. It’s okay if you’re not perfect: no one is. Missing a workout or giving into your chip craving one day is alright, as long as you don’t let it derail your weight loss efforts.
- Cross-train. At some point you may reach a plateau – a place where your body becomes comfortable and results stagnate. It’s time to try something new. Diversify your efforts and incorporate different exercises and foods into your program.
- Weight is just a number. The scale can be a great motivator and way to track certain milestones. However, numbers are often an unreliable indicator of success. Focus instead on how you feel – both inside and out – and try using photos to track progress.