Let’s face it, staying consistent to with a new health + fitness plan is not always easy. Every new year, millions of people resolve to lose weight, tone up, get healthy, and come the next year, most of those people are making the same resolution all over again.
I used to be one of those people. Heck! I’m STILL one of those people!
Even as a health + fitness coach, consistency is not something that comes naturally to me. I struggle and have my ups and downs just like everyone else, and let’s just say the second half of 2016 WASN’T. PRETTY.
If you’ve been a reader for a while now, you probably already know about my struggles with anxiety. I’ve had bouts of depression before, but nothing like I experienced last year. I usually do pretty well with one or the other – fitness or nutrition. I’ll have little spots where I do really well with both, but generally speaking, I’m far from perfect. And that leads me to my first tip…
1) UNDERSTAND THAT HEALTH + FITNESS IS A LIFESTYLE – If you go into this expecting to be perfect and looking at it as some “punishment” for not being the size or weight you want to be, you are instantly going to be resistant to it. I read an article the other day about a college professor who allowed the class to collectively decide on a punishment for those who showed up late to class. Ultimately, they decided that anyone showing up late would be required to stand on their desk and sing “I’m a Little Teapot.” While this seems silly, not a single person showed up late that semester, and – let’s face it – while it’s pretty hilarious, there is a profound lesson here:
When we make the rules, it’s a lot more difficult to be upset when you have to follow them. You remove the ability to place blame on anyone else for what you are going through because….well, it was YOUR IDEA in the first place.
So, what do I mean by that and how does this apply to health + fitness?
Well. It’s YOUR life, so YOU should determine YOUR LIFESTYLE. Just because you decide on a certain program or plan, it doesn’t mean you have to follow it to a “T” to get results. The best health + fitness plan is the one that you will actually DO, so don’t be afraid to tailor it to your specific needs, and always keep in mind: PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION. There is NO program out there that is going to be absolutely perfect, so don’t be afraid to make it your own. You can check out an example of how I’m doing that here:
(Also, please remember to always consult your doctor before starting any fitness programs.)
Next topic, please…
2) BE REALISTIC – About EVERYTHING. Goals. Abilities. Time. Preferences.
Look. First of all if you set unrealistic goals, you are just setting yourself up for failure. CAN you lose 15 pounds in 21 days? Yes. I’ve seen it done, and YES. It was done in a healthy way by simply exercising and eating right – nothing crazy, but not everyone’s body works that way. So set SMART goals, and then HIDE YOUR SCALE because chances are that little needle won’t be moving nearly as quickly as you’d like it to – and sometimes it even moves up before it starts to go down. So, instead of weighing in, ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel?
- How are my clothes fitting?
- Do I have more energy?
- Sleep better?
- Do I feel stronger? (Maybe you can do more push ups this week than last, don’t get winded as easily, or have to take as many breaks, etc)
I suggest keeping a journal. Get yourself a cute notebook (they’re like a dollar at the Walmarts), sit down at the end of each day, and ask yourself these questions. Make notes on how your nutrition was – BE HONEST. I wouldn’t suggest weighing yourself more than once a month because that scale can be one fickle little son of a gun. Focus on the daily improvements, not the number on a scale. When your journey becomes more about the destination than it is what you learn along the way, chances are it won’t be very long before you start asking “are we there yet???”, get frustrated, and just turn yourself right back around.
There is something to be said for the journey. Truth be told, I think it’s a lot more important than the destination. Today the kids and I read 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.”
Whether you’re a Christian or not, I think we can all take something away from that. All things in life – not just weight loss – are about who we become on the way to where we are going. We learn so much more and become so much stronger ON THE WAY to where we want to be than we do when we get there.
So now let’s move along to the other 3 – abilities, time, and preferences. I went kind of long on goals, so I’m just going to mash these 3 together. You need to honestly evaluate each of them before you decide on a plan of action.
If you haven’t worked out in over a year, don’t try to take on some hardcore program. You are most likely going to end up frustrated and disappointed. If you see an advanced program you would like to try, make that a goal, but START with a BEGINNER program and work your way up. Also, pushing yourself to do something your body is not yet physically prepared to do, is a good way to injure yourself. You’re not going to register for a marathon if you’ve never run a mile…see what I’m saying?
If you only have 10 minutes to workout, find something you can do in 10 minutes. Eliminate the “I didn’t have time” excuse by ONLY committing to what you have time for. It’s better to do 10 minutes 3 times a week than an hour twice a month – or worse, not workout at all.
Preferences. If you hate cardio, don’t sign up for a cardio class or buy an at home program that is strictly cardio. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you just have to suck it up buttercup and do things you don’t like to do, but ESPECIALLY when you are in the beginning stages of forming a new habit, don’t torture yourself. Pick something that you at least mildly enjoy. Give yourself some time to form that habit. Build up some endurance. Throw on some music that gets you going, and kill. that. workout!
Working out and eating healthy isn’t going to be all roses and butterflies…It’s more like burpees and brussels sprouts, so find a plan or program that CHALLENGES you, but in a way that you enjoy. TRUST ME. There IS one out there, and if you need help finding it, I’m more than happy to help you.
3) BABY STEPS ARE TOTALLY FINE – Maybe it’s just me – actually, I see it all the time with my clients, so I know it’s NOT just me. We decide on a plan/program, and we think we have to go all in . 100%. Pedal to the metal right from the get-go.
If you can do that, more power to ya’. Us normal people over here with anxiety, who are picky eaters, and don’t like change…ummmm…we’re gonna need you to CALM. DOWN.
Listen. I’m glad you’re all jacked up about crossfit and cleanses and like…I don’t know…becoming a vegan and stuff. I’m just not quite ready to jump on your “all-in, failure is not an option, go hard or go home” train.
I don’t work that way.
I don’t ride trains – and if I did, they would probably derail.
Even elevators make me nervous. They just move a little too fast for me sometimes, so I’m gonna sit over here for a while in the lobby.
Get used to my new surroundings and all.
Then, when I’m ready, I’m gonna take the stairs.
I realize I’m not going to get there as quickly as you will, but I’m okay with that because it’s better than staying where I am.
So, stop comparing. Your journey isn’t supposed to look like anyone else’s. Trust the process, focus on doing what you CAN do, and the rest will take care of itself…
How do you stay motivated to keep pushing towards your health + fitness goals?