So many of us make plans to lose weight, eat better and decrease stress. We tell ourselves that, starting tomorrow, things will be different. But as time passes, you're likely to experience one of these scenarios:
1. You've been pretty good at sticking to your goals but you feel like they may be slipping away.
2. Goals? They're long gone. Who sticks to them anyway?
When it comes to starting a fitness plan, for many, it's a challenging proposition. When motivation starts to drop – fear not. An energy injection is as easy as one, two, three. Here's how to get back on track when a motivation slump derails you.
Research your roadblocks
Reflect on your "failed" attempts at exercise and see if you notice a pattern. Do you plan to exercise first thing in the morning even though you're not a morning person? Do you plan a "five-minute" couch break before your walk, knowing that the couch will trap you until bedtime? If you do the same things over and over again, you can't expect different results. Many of us go with what we know and when it doesn't work, rather than make a different plan, we berate ourselves and throw in the towel. If you pay attention to the patterns that stop you from staying active, you can strategize ways to get around them. If you ignore them, they will continue to get in the way of your success.
Re-energize your goals
The first step to success in fitness is realistic goal setting. When you create your fitness goals, what sorts of expectations do you place on yourself? If your motivation is dropping, look back on your goals and ask yourself the following questions:
Were my goals realistic to begin with?
It's important to choose feasible goals and frame them within your current level of fitness and activity. Most exercisers strive for weight loss and want the results to show immediately. For many, a realistic (and healthy) goal is to lose a pound or two per week so if your goal is to lose 20 pounds by your high school reunion two weeks from now, you're setting yourself up for failure and frustration. Think ahead. Even at two pounds of weight loss a week (which can be on the high side) you can plan to reach your goal in two months, and it could take as long as five months if you moderate your weight loss to one pound per week. Remember to discuss your weight loss goals with your doctor and seek the assistance of a fitness professional to determine how to safely achieve success.
Page 1 of 2 – Learn more about sticking to your workout routine on page 2!
Am I attacking my goals with activities I enjoy?
Your chance of success greatly increases when you choose activities that are meaningful to you. You're more likely to prioritize your workouts and complete them if you value the outcome. The latest craze at Heavens Fitness in Calgary is Stripper-size -- an aerobics class where women learn to "release the inner diva" through strip-inspired gyrations and attitude that disguises the workout with a whole lot of fun and silliness. Try something new where you live. Re-visit a lost passion for dance. Take your beloved dog on walks through neighbourhoods or parks with lots of hills and stairs. Check out sport clubs in your city and retry sports you haven't played in years. Think carefully about an activity that could really fire you up.
Have you picked a good time to exercise or a great friend to exercise with?
It's no secret. Not everyone likes to exercise. That doesn't change the fact that your body still needs it and your mind will love you for it. If you can't seem to find fitness that fits for you, try the following two strategies to improve your chances of exercising. The first is to choose a workout time with the least expected interruptions and/or when your energy levels are highest. The second is to exercise with a buddy. On a bad day, your buddy relates to, and suffers with you, making sure you at least have fun while you share your frustrations. Also, a buddy holds you accountable when you try to bail out of exercise sessions, and is there to celebrate with you when the results start to show -- and they will.
3. Beware of your inner censors
What do you say when you talk to yourself? Our days regularly start with an internal dialogue (or self talk) that describes us to ourselves. Your inner dialogue can be an effective aid if the thoughts are positive and empowering: "Today is going to be a great day! I'm alive, healthy, and happy, and I am going to the gym just because I can!" Your subconscious brain believes what it hears most often, and the strongest message always wins. Choose today to start talking to yourself with more kindness and support. Congratulate yourself for every attempt at exercise. If the amount seems insignificant, remember that every effort adds up, and it's better to do a little than nothing at all. Eventually your positive attitude will resonate in many aspects of your day, and before you know it, you'll love yourself and your efforts to be more fit this year.
Page 2 of 2 – Given up on your fitness goals? Find motivation to get moving again on page 1.
As president of Live Out Loud Fitness and Wellness Consulting Michelle helps individuals and organizations Pump Up Productivity in work, fitness, and life. She balances that with a busy schedule as fitness director at Heavens Fitness in Calgary, Alta. She is a contributing writer for a number of magazines including Active Living, Impact, and Food for Thought. She is, also a contributing author in a book titled Expert Women who Speak, SPEAK OUT! Check out her website at www.liveoutloud.ca.