Don’t let your New Year’s resolution fail.
The calendar has turned over to February, and the excuses are already starting to roll in. You’ve tried getting in shape before and failed. Miserably. You don’t want to fail again this time, but the motivation is waning already.
We’ve all been there.
You start out on a Monday (of course) with the best of intentions, but by Thursday you’re eyeing up every off limits food in sight and finding any excuse to avoid that scheduled visit with the trainer.
Why does it seem so hard to stick to a diet and exercise program?
Here are four mindset shifts to set yourself up for success with your fitness goals.
1. Start With WHY
The promise of better health in the future isn’t enough to keep people motivated. One study reviewed why people start exercising. 75 percent of the participants cited weight loss as a top reason, while 25 percent said to enhance the quality of their lives. The first group spent the least amount of time exercising, up to 32 percent less than the group that was in it for “deeper” reasons than vanity weight loss.
You need to find your true motivation to change.
Maybe you want to be the best version of yourself for your spouse and children, and getting in shape will help?
Do you have confidence issues related to your weight? Is it holding you back?
Maybe your weight is causing sleep apnea and you’re tired and lethargic throughout the day, affecting your job and quality of life? If you’re exercising to please someone else, or to fit the mold of society’s expectations of someone your age, this will only lead to failure.
But someone who exercises because it helps them sleep better and be more productive is more likely to do it even on the tough days, because it’s having a positive impact on the other 23 hours of your day.
2. Reframe How You View Exercise
What does exercise mean to you? “Hard work” “effort” “sweat and pain” etc. most likely? These associations are preventing you from succeeding.
If you’ve tried in the past and failed, that negative association of failure is preventing you from getting started again, too. Develop a strategy that’ll turn exercise from a chore to a source of enjoyment. Turn it from a daily chore to a daily gift.
How? To start with, find an exercise you enjoy. Play a sport, walk the dog, take a bike ride etc. Anything you can do consistently and seek enjoyment from.
(Take Jean Claude Van Damme, for example…)
Baby steps in the early going will move you forward. Everything counts. You don’t need to start with hour-long workouts right out of the gates.
3. Plan For Roadblocks & Be Patient
Have a long term goal, by all means, but don’t aim to reach it overnight. All too often you get overly enthusiastic, greedy for results, giving everything you have right out of the gate. This lasts for maybe a couple months (if that), then you fizzle out and hit a wall.
The resolutions that last are the ones built on a program that is sustainable for the long haul – a program that accounts for the inevitable setbacks and mistakes of being human.
Not only does this approach win out in the long run, it’s also the healthiest, both mentally and physically.
If you want to win, not just that office transformation contest, but for many years to come, balance your short term monthly and yearly goals with goals that carry you through a lifetime.
Also, avoid your triggers to fall back into bad habits – especially in the early going.
Setting up scenarios ahead of time will help you blow past potential obstacles in your path. Let’s say one challenge you can prepare for is when a stressful moment happens at work. Normally you’d reach for the nearest chocolate bar or grab a snack to calm your nerves.
Write down your plan of attack when this happens: “I’ll simply go for a short walk around the block instead and if I need to satisfy my sweet tooth, I’ll have an apple handy at my desk”
Even if you cave, it’s not the end. Setbacks are a part of the journey. Relax, dust yourself off and get back on the horse. Just as one day of bad eating doesn’t derail your weight loss – it’s the big picture that matters. Remember that and you’ll be less likely to quit at the first sign of trouble.
4. Give Yourself Permission
Give yourself permission to look after yourself. Self-care is vital. Focus on making exercise something you do for yourself.
For example, exercise helps you become a better person, husband, professional, community member or friend. Focus on WHY you started and give yourself permission to continually work at it.
This is often what holds so many dads back — putting their kids’ and partner’s self-care above their own. But by taking care of yourself, you’re helping them, too. You want to be around to see them play sports and live an active lifestyle of their own, after all.
1. Find your TRUE motivation.
2. Swap negative associations with positive ones, stop seeing exercise as a chore but a vehicle to the new, vibrant, healthy you.
3. To stick to your routine, plan ahead for potential challenges where your motivation will fall off. But even if you suffer failures, never stop learning from your mistakes. After all, you’re human. Small steps forward compound over time.
4. Give yourself permission to get healthy, not only for yourself but for your loved ones, too.
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