I was really lacking motivation last year. Looking back on that time period, I wish I would have read more articles regarding habit formation and motivation. Our culture is that of extremes. “I want to lose 30 pounds this month!” Or beginning a training regimen and going 7 days per week right off the bat. Or going paleo when all of your meals have been processed foods.
I am also one of those people and while I love that I can set such lofty goals for myself sometimes they just aren’t realistic. A complete life overhaul and those one in a million transformations don’t have lasting power. As humans our willpower is bound to fail us and motivation ebbs and flows. Making changes that are easy one by one is the path to lasting change.
What did I do when I decided to get back on the horse last year? I decided to train 7 days per week and 5 of those days at 5 am when I have never trained at 5 am one time in my life. By the end of week one, I was exhausted and starving and had a total “forget this” attitude.
Overhaul did not last.
What would have worked better for me? To add one or two training sessions and make a small change regarding my nutrition like deciding to drink more water each day or replacing one meal of lower quality food with a high quality choice. Ease back in. Make the goals small and attainable and celebrate my success. Slowly build up to my previous training program and healthy eating habits.
Unfortunately, we want gratification immediately. We want those 6 pack abs yesterday and we want to be in a size 6 ASAP. If you take the time to slowly change your habits, formulate the new ones and add them one by one I promise you the reward you will reap is a lasting change and one you can live with.
Lets Create a New Habit, shall we?
How do we get habits to stick? Associate them with something you already do. On Sunday when we make dinner at home (already a routine), we make extra food to prepare for the week ahead. Our cue is Sunday dinner, our meal preparation is the habit we want to form, and our reward is not only having healthy choices on hand all week but I tell myself great job for setting my week up for success. The celebration aspect is what can solidify the new habit since we make the reward as positive as possible. (Unlike the negative reward I got from going all in at 5 am that was exhaustion and extreme hunger ha!)
Pick a time to prepare for the week. If cooking isn’t your thing, choose a time to start with cutting fresh fruit and vegetables to have on hand. Move on from there to easy crock pot meal preparations. Then you can work your way up to more complicated recipes if you choose.
Start with training you enjoy. I really wanted to get back in to lifting heavy but that just didn’t sound appealing at the time. Signing up for a class with light resistance training with others around me to fuel my tiny motivation spark helped me recreate my habit of working out regularly. I then went back to one leg day per week and slowly added from there.
Choose a time to train that you can associate with a cue and a reward. For example, train every evening after you put the kids to bed and don’t let yourself watch your favorite show on DVR until you are done. Integrating a new activity in your schedule in such a way will help form a habit
Another thing to focus on while you are creating a new habit is how you feel not just how you look. We are so hung up on outer appearances these days we forget to measure our success on more than one gauge. Making healthy choices, counting your macronutrients, getting sleep, managing stress- these things will help you lead a better and more fulfilling life no matter your dress size (or pant size).
Sometimes I’m not the most popular coach for suggesting small changes over time but that is ok with me. The clients I have that do change in this manner have continued to maintain their look and success and adopt a new way of life. They are happier and healthier for the long term and that is what I want for everyone more than anything. I don’t want you to be happy for one day on stage or one day for a big event and crash through the finish line only to revert back to old habits. I want this for you for the rest of your life.
Want help formulating a program that will work for you? Email me personally at [email protected]