By this time of year, most people have long ago dropped their New Year’s resolutions.
Often, as we know, these well-intentioned promises are related to fitness, diet and weight loss. The gyms get flooded with new members for a short stint and then—before long—they turn into ghost towns.
As a personal trainer, I've seen this pattern year after year. New members come in with totally unrealistic weight loss expectations in terms of the speed of results and the actual level of consistent effort required. Then, when these goals don’t become a quick reality, these individuals are likely to give up entirely, believing that they have failed and weight loss is not possible for them.
Healthy goals are established based on what we are actually able to control: our daily behaviors and our lifestyle choices. Rather than making an unrealistic pledge to lose twenty pounds in five days, for instance, a person might decide to make sure he or she gets to the gym five times per week, or that he or she will pack a healthy lunch instead of ordering takeout at work everyday. These are the kinds of choices that we can control and have power over.
Motivation will not always be high; that is when habit needs to takeover. Motivation comes in waves, and it is important to be realistic about our expectations around this. We must ride the lows and not give up. Habits such as packing your gym bag the night before, having your fridge stocked with healthy choices and keeping junk out of the house and setting workout dates with a gym partner, so you feel accountable, make you much more likely to stick with it. If you can ride the lows by relying on habit, the motivation does come back.
Setbacks are inevitable; no one is perfect. If you have a bad day with food choices or you miss the gym for a few days, you just get right back on track. You do not quit because of a few bad days. I always tell my clients to reset their mind. It is like a light switch that goes off. For instance, the first one or two workouts back at the gym after a setback can sometimes be difficult, but then the light switch flips back on. You just have to fake it till you make it.
Don't beat yourself up and focus on what went wrong. You cannot go back in time, but you can make better choices in the future. Focus on what you can do and get right back on track with food choices and exercise.
Setting attainable, time-appropriate lifestyle goals is a great way to begin this year. Resolutions do not have to be set in January only to be long gone by February. Make some now! Set yourself up for success and make 2016 your fittest and healthiest year yet.