It is a tough question when you think about it. Do you know what makes you successful? Are you logging what changes you make and how they change your results? Are you tracking your results regularly? If not you could be short-changing yourself.
When we have goals the best way to accomplish them is to break them into smaller parts and then attack them. By breaking them into smaller parts they become much more manageable. It is easier to get to the ultimate goal. It is not different with fat loss.
First you have to set a goal and then you have to break that goal down into more manageable parts. You then have to see how you are doing at each milestone. For me, I have a long term goal that is set to happen on February 3, 2008, but I also have weekly goals that lead me to the long term goal. Not only do those weekly goals help me get to my long term goal, but the act of setting them did two things.
First, by setting the long term goals, I was able to determine if my long term goal was realistic. Remembering that goals need to be SMART (specific measureable attainable realistic time-specific), if a goal, when broken into parts, proves to be unrealistic or unattainable, you need to adjust the goal slightly.
Next, writing the goal down (including the smaller parts) makes it more likely that the goal will happen. There are statistics that show that just by writing a goal down, you are more likely to attain the goal. In fact, studies have shown that if you write down 10 goals and shove them into a desk drawer and forget about them, when you return in a a year, 80% of the goals will have been accomplished. The act of writing them down does something to your brain and puts it into action towards achieving the goals you set.
I read on Jenny's blog that she doesn't want to become one of those people who become motivated and ultimately fall off. There are so many people that do this and it is sad because everyone is capable of achieving their goals. To me, the best way is to be realistic. I've thought alot about this topic (as you might be able to tell) and what I've decided might be interesting to some, sacreligious to others.
Most of the “experts” agree that you need to eat clean 80% of the time to be successful at fat loss. If you eat 5 times a day like you are supposed to, that leaves you 1 meal a day where you can be less than perfect. Now, that would be a minimal effort in my mind, but it is the truth–you can fall off on one meal per day and still see good results. Will you see better results by eating clean 5 meals a day instead of 4? Of course you will because your body will respond to what you put into it.
I honestly believe that the largest part of our success is our nutrition. It makes us who we are. Exercise builds up the look on the outside while nutrition builds up the foundation. Without a strong foundation you are bound to fail.
With this said, please make sure not to beat yourself up about small setbacks. They are bound to happen. Anyone who says they've been perfect is lying. Get in there and do your best. Don't get down on yourself for the setbacks you might experience. Measure the results you are getting. Record the timing of the changes you make. Observe what happens to your results because of those changes. That will lead you inevitably to other changes. Those changes, in cumulation, will lead you to the successful completion of your goals.