So, you’ve made a new resolution to reinvent your eating habits. Whatever the motivation, whether it was looking at yourself in the mirror for the first time in a while, or an off-handed comment from your spouse, it put you into action. Now you’re revved and ready to go — for the 100th time. And for the 100th time, you start out with oatmeal on Monday morning only to end up in the nearest drive-through by dinner time.
Why is it that every time we decide to commit to diet and fitness, our plans stay on track for maybe a week, sometimes only a few days? As soon as the initial motivator fades from our memories we find ourselves stopping for “just one” doughnut on the way to work, or visiting the vending machine during afternoon break. It’s far to easy to make impulsive plans but end up feeling like a failure because of a lack of planning.
Here are some tips for keeping yourself on track this time around.
Find your Passion
It’s important to find the type of exercise that excites you, the kind that makes you look forward to getting a workout in. If that passion is for running, great! Running is an excellent means of exercising. Or maybe your passion is for dance, or gymnastics (you can actually do gymnastics in the comfort of your own home — check out these reviews of cheap gymnastics mats for home use; they can also be used for other activities like yoga, cheer, dance, and they’re pretty inexpensive too!)
If you haven’t find your passion yet, keep looking! There are so many ways to be active that you’re practically guaranteed to have something perfect for you.
Write Down Your Goal, and your Motivating Factors
The first key to success is to clearly define where you want to end up. If you’re looking to loose weight or inches, write down your starting weight, measure yourself and set attainable goals to reach within a set timeframe. The American Heart Association recommends that you loose no more than 1-2 pounds per week. Many people like to choose a certain length of time (10 to 12 weeks works well) to adhere to set goals. At then end of that time, you can assess your progress and decide if you would like to change anything. Just be sure to give yourself long enough to adjust to a new routine. Reassessing after a week is not exactly ideal.
Now that you’ve defined your goal, write down what is going to motivate you to attain your goal. Wanting to loose ten pounds is admirable, but when you’re in a face-off with a chocolate brownie, it’s easy to tell yourself how little that goal matters. It’s better to have definitive reasons for wanting to loose the weight. For example, you might want to look stunning at your sister’s wedding, or you might have a health reason for wanting to loose weight. One great motivator for some people is wanting to prove not just to themselves, but to all of the negative voices in their lives that they really CAN exercise the willpower to meet the goal. Choose a list of 3-5 at minimum -when one reason fails to motivate you, another surely will.
Post your goals and your motivations in several places where you can see them daily. The bathroom mirror, the refrigerator door, inside your day planner and on your desk at work.
Do Your Research
Don’t just start eating the worst, most healthy looking diet food that you can find. Do some research and find a plan that is ideal to your body and lifestyle. Determine exactly what you need to eat and drink, and what your activity level each day should be. If you choose a popular diet plan you’ll be provided with guidelines, some more strict than others, but you can also do your own research and design a good fitness and nutrition plan for yourself based on standard rules of nutrition.
Keep a Journal
Write down your daily exercise and food intake goals, and keep track of your progress each day. Record your success and your failures, so that you can look back and see what you’ve done right and what you need to improve on. There are several journals on the market designed especially for tracking diet and nutrition, there are also many free websites that can be used for tracking or you can just use a small blank book. The important thing is that you keep track.
Get an Accountability Buddy
Recruiting a spouse or close friend to jump on the fitness bandwagon can be a key to success. Together you can motivate each other to stick to your resolutions and work toward your goals. Unfortunately not everyone has someone willing to participate but support can still be found. There are many diet and fitness websites that provide users a way to connect to others and stay encouraged. Local groups can also provide motivation; you can check your local phone book or ask at your fitness center or gym for classes and support groups in your area.
Don’t Let Failure Get You Down
Everyone messes up once in a while but too many times, people starting a fitness routine take the first bit of failure as a sign that they can’t accomplish what they’ve set out to do. If you set strict goals for yourself, you’re bound to walk off the path at some point. The important part is to stand up and dust yourself off, look at what you feel you’ve done wrong and what caused it, and then move on. Dwelling on failure will get you nowhere. It’s best to view your moments of weakness as learning experiences instead of failure. Take what you can from those moments and let your goals motivate you to do better next time.