Updated: Dec 21, 2018
We all know know how it goes...
January rolls around and people take the leap.
"This is my year," they say. Their time to lose this weight. Or to create healthier lifestyle habits.
All of a sudden the gym is packed, people are working towards their goals, and all is well...until it's not. Until February rolls around and they start finding reasons to skip. Reasons to fade out...again.
But what if there was a better solution? Because there is.
What if it didn't have to be all out for four weeks until you dread the gym so much that you quit...just like that? Because it doesn't.
Here are 6 tips to help keep you consistent after January.
1. Write down your goals.
For whatever reason, there's something about writing down goals that makes us feel more obligated to reach them. Achieving your health & fitness goals will not always be a smooth, linear road. To hold yourself accountable, goals should be five things: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Did you give yourself something to work at? Can you measure your progress of this goal? Look at where you are and what you'd like to achieve...is this doable for you? Is the goal relevant to you and your wants? Did you give yourself a deadline? The deadline does not have to be set in stone, but you should start with a estimate that is challenging yet feasible.
2. Create a schedule.
Your workouts become appointments you've made with yourself -- there are no cancellations. Schedule days and times that make sense with the rest of your life; don't continue to put your health on the back burner. Sure there will be days that it just doesn't work out, but is this happening 1-2 times a month or once every few days? Just like your goals, write this schedule down. Put it right in your daily life planner or buy a separate fitness-specific journal where you can include your goals/progress all in one.
3. Ease into it.
If you haven't exercised in months (or years) starting at 6-7 days/week, 2/days, etc., is not setting yourself up for success. By the time you get to end of week 1 or 2 you will hate the way you feel and more than likely quit half way through January. Take your first month to start out at 2-3 days/week. Maybe by the end of the month you're feeling like you've got a handle on your current schedule and want to add in a fourth day. From there you can build up to what best suits you. Make small changes in your diet. Just like exercise, going all in from day one is going to feel much harder than making small, smart changes overtime. Don't cut out all your carbs or start a keto diet. Are you a pop drinker? Switch to fruit-infused water. Fast food eater? Try packing your own lunches. The difference you'll see from small yet powerful changes such as these will keep you feeling energized and motivated.
4. Take weekly progress pictures.
Ditch the scale and get out the camera. Use self-timer or start a video and screenshot your front/side/back shots. You don't have to share them with anyone else, but the difference pictures show that no scale can will amaze you. Sure the scale can measure weight but it does not show the cosmetic changes your body will make. Need some motivation to keep moving or get going on a day you're not really feeling like it? Use your pictures as motivation.
5. Do it for the right reasons.
Aside from weight/fat loss, there are countless reasons that exercise should be apart of your life; increase in energy levels, stronger muscles/tendons/ligaments/bones (i.e. decreases chance of injury), improved gut health, reduced risk for chronic disease, improved memory...the list could go on an on. Focus on all aspects other than just the visual aesthetics and you'll find joy in the entire process. Elle Woods said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy and happy people just don't shoot their husbands.”
6. Be patient & give yourself the freedom/flexibility to learn. There is no rush.
Things aren't going to turn around in one month. Think about how long you've done damage to your body...months? Years? Give yourself time to see change and to figure out what's going to work best for you. Everyone is different and therefore need different things whether that be your workout regimen (type of training, what time of day, etc.) or nutrition. Although we create estimated deadlines for our goals to push ourselves, there really is no rush. You have your whole life to reach that end goal, enjoy what it takes and the time it takes to get there. Love yourself on the way to reaching that goal.
7. Hire someone.
If you're stuck and not quite sure where to go, instead of asking all of your Facebook friends that are uneducated in exercise science/nutrition, hire someone that has the education to safely & effectively help you reach your goals. Someone that can individualize your workouts and nutrition specific to you. Someone that can give you the one-on-one attention you may need for motivation or accountability. Sure, it won't be free, but it will be a lot less expensive than medical bills for a chronic disease.
Don't let January be the month you start and quit. Don't quit because it's hard or because health isn't free. Don't quit because the results aren't coming as quickly as you'd like; they're sure not going to come by stopping.
Start and keep going. Keep going for YOU and then for whoever else you're doing it for; maybe your kids or your mom.
Keep going and see how far you've come when January 2020 rolls around.
DISCLAIMER: Sophia Kostrzewa of Sarah Fechter Fitness is not a doctor or registered dietitian. The contents of this blog or documents attached should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem - nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health.