As a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, I am constantly answering health and fitness questions from my clients, on social media and in our Start TODAY Facebook group. In this column, I address some of the most common questions and roadblocks that trip people up on their journey to establish a health and fitness routine.
I always start the new year strong with a fitness routine and then fall off the wagon after January. How can I keep the momentum going?
For many of us, ringing in the New Year means setting a lofty resolution for the year to come and health and fitness goals are among the most popular. But everyone knows the drill: Gyms are packed the month of January — come February, people start dropping like flies.
Why do so many people give up after a few weeks? Many have unrealistic expectations of how fast they will see results and struggle to remain patient throughout the process, especially when they hit roadblocks.
As a health and fitness coach, I’ve seen so many people give up on their goals once January passes. And once you lose momentum, it can be really hard to start over.
I’ve been coaching weight-loss clients for almost 15 years and I’ve seen that following through comes down to basic psychology. Your health is no different than your career, your relationships, or practicing a sport or a hobby. Focusing on your wins, learning from your losses, and having the flexibility to pivot and change course are all important in keeping you in the right mindset to stick with it.
Here are a few ways to stay motivated when the momentum of the New Year fades:
Write down your successes each day
Writing down little wins each day may not seem like a big deal, but any way you can acknowledge your progress (however small!) will help you feel like what you are doing is worth it. Small wins make us feel good and help shift our focus away from the setbacks that sometimes make us lose motivation.
Whether it be drinking 8 glasses of water, choosing a healthy snack or going for an extra long walk, these wins deserve to be celebrated. Acknowledging your efforts in writing helps establish a more positive mindset and will motivate you to continue working toward your goals.
Tell yourself that setbacks WILL happen
The reason goals are hard to accomplish is because of the challenges that arise during the process. If there were no challenges, no one would give up! That’s why it’s so important to prepare for these challenges ahead of time and have a plan in place for when they arise.
As a weight-loss coach, I see a lot of my clients start the year excited about their new routine, but become bored after a few weeks. This is a setback that we can prepare for. I recommend looking into different exercise routines and having a few options on the back burner to try when you lose interest. Missing a workout — and the guilt that comes with it — is another common setback I see. Instead of feeling down and throwing in the towel, have a plan to tell yourself “It’s OK that I missed a day” and get right back on your routine the next day.
Set aside time each week to evaluate and course correct
So many people think that once a goal and plan of action are set, they cannot be altered. This is one of the major reasons so many health resolutions fail. Fitness-related goals are often achieved on a trial-and-error basis!
What this means is that you need to be prepared that your initial plan may not be right for you and open to change course as you continue to work toward your goal. Set aside time every week to take an honest look at how things are going. Write down how different workouts or foods make you feel: Which are helping and which are hurting your progress? Use this information to make adjustments moving forward. If something isn’t serving you, ditch it!
Share your goal with others
I always advise my clients to let their family and friends in on their goals. Saying your goal out loud to others will make it feel more real. Once you let others in on your plan, you’ll be able to form a support system for yourself. I find this to be one of the biggest influences on whether or not people are able to follow through and accomplish their goals.
Updating loved ones on your progress can serve as a major source of motivation. These people in your life can help hold you accountable for your actions as you work toward your goal and celebrate your progress. Some of my clients are reluctant to share their goals with others for fear of embarrassment if they fail. But your friends and family want to see you succeed and they will be there to encourage and support you when you hit roadblocks!