It can be really intimidating when planning a new eating and exercise plan. So intimidating that it completely discourages us from even taking the first step. We sigh, pout, and complain that’s it’s too hard. Somehow, we end up exactly where we are, except now we’ve thoroughly and emotionally beat ourselves up. Sounds familiar right? We’ve all been there.
So what can we do to get ourselves going and keep ourselves motivated?
Make small goals. Instead of pysching yourself up to work out 15 times next week and eating nothing by carrot sticks, take baby steps and make your goals realistic. For example, try “I will go swimming twice this week.” At the end of the week, you can evaluate if you reached your goal.
Congratulate yourself. When you reach your goals, don’t forget to give yourself a giant pat on the back. It’s encouraging and helps to keep you on track. But don’t stop there, make new goals to reach!
Don’t self-sabotage. “Well, I ate that cheeseburger, I might as well stop trying because I messed up.” It’s very understandable to feel defeated if we “cheat” on our diet or skip a gym session. Suddenly, everything seems pointless so we just quit then and there. But remember that every day is a new day. Put the cheeseburger or pizza or cake or ice cream treat behind you because one meal will not destroy your progress. It will only if you let it.
Feed Your Craving. Give power to your cravings. There are things that we just can’t give up. For me, it’s candy/chocolate. I know that I’m going to eat it no matter what. So I give myself small allowances each day or a couple day during the week. If I don’t indulge in small portions regularly, I will binge on an entire giant party sized bag all in one sitting. Some people can eliminate things completely, but others can’t. Find out which one you are and be flexible! With a small treat, you’ll satisfy your craving and still stay on track your plan.
Get Off The Scale. Weights fluctuate everyday due to the smallest of things. Instead, focus on how energized and strong you feel.
Cook At Home. It may seem easier to just pick up lunch or dinner, but we probably spend even more time deciding what to eat while we’re sitting at the Drive-Thru than we do if we plan them in advance. Sundays are great planning days for snacks, lunches, and dinners for the rest of the week. Go grocery shopping, cook, and pack it all up. That way, your food will be ready to go or you’ll at least have recipes planned out for the week. Cooking at home helps us control what we eat so we don’t stray from our goals. Consistency is the key to success and that also rule holds true in the kitchen too.
Hold Yourself Accountable. No matter how we plan our exercise or diet, life happens and we fall off the wagon. Some can be extremely self-motivated, but for others who need help staying on track, there are tools out there to help.
- work out with a buddy
- keep a food journal (MyFitnessPal)
- hire a personal trainer
- work with a Registered Dietitian
- tell everyone you know about your plan (so they can bug/remind you to stay on it)
- skip the fad diets/workouts
- join weight management groups like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers
- do exercises/find healthy recipes you enjoy doing/eating
- set an alarm to go work out each day
- block off an hour on your Outlook/office calendar to go for a walk or exercise
- create a challenge/competition between friends/co-workers
- check in with a trusted friend/professional
Have Your Friends and Family Join In On Your New Health/Fitness Routines. So often, we set goals for ourselves to eat healthfully, but our family and friends may not be on the same page. It’s hard to eat a healthy meal when our husband, wife, parents, and siblings eat fried chicken, burgers, and pizzas or drinks 10 beers everyday. Making it a team effort provides not just tangible support, but also emotional and mental support, which are essential to our success everyday. Have a serious conversation with your loved ones and express how important it is to you to make these positive changes in your life. Who knows? Maybe you end up being a positive role model for someone else.
There are so many barriers to get us going or keep us motivated when it comes to our health/fitness goals. But remember to take it one day at a time and that you can do it. One year from now, you won’t regret that you started today.
Happy Eating and Healthy Living,
NASM Certified Personal Trainer.