Studies show that about half of all American adults say they are at least somewhat likely to make a New Years resolution this year. The top vows are to lose weight, quit smoking and exercise more. Sound familiar? Let me guess, it’s the same scene played out for you each year during the first week of January? Where’s the drive and motivation that you started with last year? Wasn’t 2015 going to be your year? How are you feeling now? I assume it’s similar to how you felt last year during this same time…you’re motivated!
We are filled with the buzz of everyone’s energy to hit the gym and start watching what we eat and we truly believe this year it’s going to happen. Those first few days or even weeks are exciting because it’s a new routine and you’re at least part of the group that’s “doing something” but it never lasts. Motivation is awesome, when it’s around. But what about when it’s not? What will keep you going through the low days to make sure you reach your ultimate goal? It isn’t motivation – it’s meaning.
Have you ever sat and just thought about what your weight loss or health goals means to you? It better be something powerful and it needs to be or it won’t be enough to carry you through when the excitement, adrenaline, thrill of a new routine and motivation wears off. Looking your very best, boosting your self-esteem and feeling great are worthy goals— but what do they mean to you?
Why do you want to be in better shape, lose weight or get healthy? The reasons you list need to move you in some way. They should be something worth getting up earlier to hit the gym for, something worth eating another salad for and definitely something worth passing up your favorite treat for. Feeling comfortable in your body, loving your reflection in the mirror or setting a great example for those you love— those are reasons that will fuel you over the long haul. Take the time to find your reasons.
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. The issue with relying on motivation for a big end goal is that we get so focused on the outcome— which is often a long ways away, for some of you with big goals it may be months or even a year away— and as we know, motivation has a shorter half-life than most of our big aspirations. When we focus on the outcome, whether it is a body fat percentage, a dress size or a number on the scale, the reward is simply the end goal and your hard work along the way doesn’t get much attention. No wonder we get fed up and throw in the towel!
And what if you don’t make it to your final goal— does that mean all the good you did along the way, all the new healthy habits you have, and the weight you DID lose don’t count? Of course not! But we often feel like those things don’t matter if our sole focus is on success at the end of the journey. While I do recommend that you set goals that are specific and measurable, be aware that your body doesn’t always have the same timeline.
As someone who often pushes themselves physically and emotionally, farther and quicker than is healthy— I know firsthand, as do many of you, that when we push a system that isn’t ready our body rebels. We end up either injured and burnt out or frustrated that we’ve put in all this time and effort and we’re STILL not there. It’s understandable to be upset at these times, but it’s another example of how focusing solely on the outcome can leave us lacking the umph to keep on going.
Remember, it may simply take more time than we want it to— just keep working and enjoying the small benefits along the way.
What truly will help you not only achieve your goals but also not be miserable along the way is emphasizing the process as much— or more than— the destination. If the ultimate goal is to get back into those favorite, skinny jeans or to see that optimal number when you step on the scale, focus on the process of being healthy and fit and take each healthy day— even each healthy activity— as a small victory.
How to Succeed and Stay Motivated: Set weekly lifestyle and exercise goals that will get you closer to your bigger goal— goals that focus on the process rather than the outcome.
For example, focus on getting to the gym five times this week rather than thinking “if I go to the gym five times this week I will lose more weight.” Really enjoy that feeling you get after a great workout. Stick with the process.
Motivation will burn out, inspiration will stay shining bright all the way through your journey. Here’s to your inspired goals for 2016!
Owner of Pro Physiques (formerly Az Pro Physiques) the largest personal training gym in Arizona. She is an IFBB Fitness Pro traveling the world representing the United States at competitions internationally and here in the U.S. A personal trainer and contest prep coach to athletes around the country, Radio show host of ProBodyTalk, Fit Fluential ambassador, Sponsored athlete for Gamma Labs, Legend Fitness, Lifestyle Healthy Foods and a Mom of two incredibly amazing boys.