You’ve set a goal to “get back in shape,” “go to the gym more often,” or “start living more healthfully.” And for the first two weeks, you’re surpassing each benchmark. You’re working out almost every day, and your diet hasn’t “slipped” once.
But then, all of a sudden, things get a little harder. Waking up for that 5:00 a.m. gym class doesn’t come quite so easily. And walking by the donuts in the break room takes considerably more effort than it had last week.
What gives? Why is everything so difficult all of a sudden?
When we tackle a new goal – health-related or otherwise – we often begin on a natural high. We’re excited by the novelty of something different. And we’re motivated by the promise of positive change.
After those first few weeks, however, that natural high starts to wane, and we’re left to rely on sheer willpower. At times, the task seems nearly insurmountable, and we wonder if it’s even possible. Why is this!?
Simply put, it’s because you haven’t turned these behaviors into habits yet.
I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before,” which is all about habit change. And she made an observation toward the beginning of the study that really opened my eyes.
Essentially, she explained that habits are easy. They take very little willpower or energy on our part because they’re naturally ingrained into our daily lives.
In fact, the real challenge when it comes to habits and habit change is not maintaining a habit, but rather establishing that habit in the first place.
Just think about it. Does it take considerable willpower for you to brush your teeth in the morning or put on a seatbelt when you get in the car? Of course not. Because the habit is ingrained.
Think about a professional musician. Do they have an internal battle each day when they sit down to practice their instrument? Nope; it’s part of their daily routine. They’ve established a habit.
When we want to adopt a new habit that tests our current lifestyle, however, this is when the real challenge comes in. This is when you work the hardest, and it’s often when you push your willpower to its limits.
Can you relate to this situation? I know I can!
The good news is, while these goals may seem impossible right now, the more often we do them, the easier they get. And today I have some strategies to help you do just that.
So read on and learn how you can stick with your fitness goals, push through the challenging weeks, and make healthy living a habit.
5-step strategy to stick with your fitness goals for good
Define your objective and get specific
Vague, unclear objectives are one of the biggest stumbling blocks people have when setting their fitness goals. Consider these classics:
“My New Year’s Resolution is to get in shape.” Or “I’ll go to the gym more often.” Or “I’m going to exercise, eat right, and lose weight.”
Chances are, you’ve heard someone say something like this 100 times. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself! I certainly have.
While it’s great that you’re motivated to live more healthfully, the problem is that you’re not creating clear, measurable goals. And when you can’t track your progress, motivation quickly suffers.
So when you think about your fitness goals, be as specific as possible. Rather than saying “I’ll go to the gym more often,” try: “I’ll go to the gym four times a week. I’ll attend the 6:00 spin class on Monday, the 5:45 weight class on Wednesday, Zumba at 6:00 on Friday, and Yoga at 8:30 on Sunday morning.”
When you have these concrete goals, you can easily check them off your list:
“Did I goto all four classes this week? Yes, I did; success!”
If you keep your goals vague, however, you have much more room for loopholes. For example, if you’ve never belonged to a gym before, and your goal is to simply “go to the gym more often,” you technically only have to go once to achieve that goal…
Do yourself a favor, and make that objective clear and precise. Set yourself up for success.
I ran into this problem recently with yoga. The past few months I’ve really wanted to get into yoga, and I kept telling myself, “I need to go to yoga more often!” Not surprisingly, this thought was totally ineffective.
I then tried to be a bit more specific by saying, “I need to go to yoga 2-3 times per week.” Unfortunately, even with that level of specificity, I wasn’t following through with my goal. Why? Because day after day would pass by and I’d say, “I’ll go tomorrow.” Then, “I’ll go the next day.” And, “I’ll go the day after that…” Before I knew it, a whole week had gone by and I hadn’t been to yoga once.
So then I got super specific. I decided I would attend the 4:00 yoga class on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, and the 8:30 a.m. class on Sunday morning. Done. And guess what? I haven’t missed a day since. I put it in my planner, and it’s now part of my routine.
Another major player in being able to stick with your fitness goals is having true motivation behind them. If you don’t know why you’re working toward your objectives, chances are, you won’t be as dedicated to seeing them through.
And as you reflect on your motivation, it’s incredibly helpful if it’s internal. In other words, you need to want this goal.
Let’s go back to my yoga practice for an example.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this year my New Year’s resolution is to find work-life balance. And a portion of this resolution is to discover my inner calm within the chaos of the everyday.
You see, I’ve been dealing with considerable anxiety over the past several years, so this objective is incredibly important to me. In fact, its meaning goes beyond the category of wanting this goal and is now in the realm of needing it.
So as you consider your fitness goals, take some time to ask yourself: why is this goal important to me?
Break it Down
Once you’ve established your specific goal, and you’ve discovered the meaning behind it, it’s now time to break down your goal into manageable steps. By doing so, you change what can feel like an overwhelming task into concrete, manageable objectives. What’s more, you have an easier time tracking your progress along the way.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say your fitness goal is to lose 30 lbs. with diet and exercise. This is a fantastic goal, but it is also quite challenging. And if not approached correctly, it can be potentially overwhelming as well.
So rather than starting day one with the idea, “I’m going to lose 30 lbs!” try breaking this goal down into manageable weekly benchmarks. Perhaps your first few weeks look something like this:
Goal: Lose 2 lbs.*
- Fitness Plan: 2 cardio sessions, 2 strength sessions
- Monday: Tabata 5:30
- Wednesday: Body Attack 5:15
- Friday: Body Pump 5:45
- Sunday: Yoga 8:30
- Diet Plan: Eat 1800 calories/day
- Breakfast: 500
- Lunch: 500
- Dinner: 500
- Snack: 200
*Please Note: I am not a dietician or fitness coach. I chose the above numbers at random. Please consult a doctor about what is best for you:)
By breaking down your goals into small, manageable, and measurable tasks, you are able to track your process much easier. What’s more, you’ll have an easier time seeing progress, because you’re not expecting the scale to magically drop 30 lbs overnight.
While I mentioned above that it’s important to establish goals that are meaningful to you, having outside accountability is also a great motivator. And fortunately, there are many different ways to establish this accountability; find a workout buddy, hire a personal trainer, join a group, make some friends at the gym, etc. Sometimes simply having someone expecting us to show up is all the motivation we need.
For example, my gym classes begin at 5:15 a.m. And I’m not going to lie… When my alarm goes off at 4:30, I don’t spring out of bed every time. With that being said, I nevertheless get up, throw on my gym clothes, and trek to the gym without fail.
Have I been tempted to skip? Yep! So why don’t I? Accountability.
You see, I have a thoughtful friend at the gym who always gets to class a little bit earlier I do. She knows I tend to arrive at the very last minute, so she sets up my equipment for me. Because I know she’s expecting me, and I know the effort she puts into setting up my weights, I’m going to be there. Period.
So think outside the box. How can you find an accountability partner who helps you stick to your fitness goals? I think you’ll be amazed at how much it helps.
Looking for some extra accountability? Be sure to join the I’m Busy Being Awesome Facebook group here!
Track your Progress
You might have noticed that I mentioned tracking a few times in this post already. That’s because tracking is one of my favorite ways to stick to my goals. Perhaps it’s the type-A personality in me, but my motivation soars when I can check off a box, record my stats, and visually see my progress unfold.
And the best part is, you can track almost anything! So whether you’re focused on sessions at the gym, weight loss goals, or eating habits, you can boost your motivation through tracking.
In fact, because I’ve seen the positive effects of tracking on many different people over the years, I decided to create the ultimate fitness tracker to help you reach your goals. Not only does it track your gym attendance and log your workouts, but it also helps you plan your routines, track your daily habits, map out your weekly menu and shopping list, keep a food log, and reflect on your motivation and progress.
I’ve created a PDF Digital download that fits directly into any 5.5×8.5 ring planner, as well as the disc-bound planner systems. And you can also order a physical copy in 1, 2, or 3-month sets, which I’ll mail directly to you! Hop over to my Etsy store to see all the tracker has to offer!
And what’s more, because you’re a fantastic Busy Awesome Reader, if you click here, you’ll get a FREE 8.5×11 download of the weekly motivator!
So grab your freebie, start tracking your progress, and stick with your fitness goals for good!
CHECK OUT THE OTHER SECTIONS OF OUR GOAL SETTING SERIES:
How do you stick with your fitness goals? Do you ever run into a motivation slump? How do you break through it? Have you ever tracked your goals before? Let me know below!