Tell me if this sounds familiar: you set a new workout goal and are SO excited about it for the first few days or weeks. And then…your motivation tends to wane. What was once shiny and new now feels dull and burdensome. Whether you made a New Year’s resolution you abandoned by February or committed to a new goal mid-summer and are already feeling beat, falling off the wagon doesn’t mean you can’t get back up and try again. No matter what time of year it is or what’s going on around you, here’s how to stay committed to your fitness goals when you’re losing motivation.
1. Set REALISTIC goals.
It would be nice to snap your fingers and go from completely sedentary couch potato to total fitness buff in a split second, but that’s not how lasting fitness changes work. Commit to small changes at first and build upon them. What can you realistically commit to? Can you exercise for an hour three days per week? If so, make that your commitment. Maybe you are ready to exercise five times a week and have two days per week when you can skip. If you can come up with a plan you can stick to it will build your confidence day by day. Be realistic with your schedule, but make sure you prioritize exercise. (And P.S. the CDC recommends 150 minutes of heart pumping exercise per week.)
2. Do something every day.
Imagine if you woke up every day and asked yourself what you can do to invest in your health and fitness. When you do that, you will become more conscious of your choices and make better decisions about what you eat, how much water you drink, how often you exercise, how much movement you squeeze into each day and the number of hours of sleep you get at night. If you can’t do everything you want in a 24 period, just ask yourself: What’s the one thing I can do?
3. Always keep looking forward.
If you find yourself not keeping to the promises you made before this year began or if you are falling into some bad habits, don’t beat yourself up. Positive changes can never be made when you are busy hurling criticisms at yourself inside your head and feeling defeated. Let your mistakes go and be understanding that evolving toward a healthy lifestyle isn’t always simple or easy. Look forward instead. Go for improvement over perfection.
4. Reward your healthy behavior.
Are you the type of person who loves to cross things off a To Do list for the feeling of accomplishment? If so, get a calendar where you write down when you work out and what you do. Jot down your weight once a week to see your progress. Make your commitment to exercise fun by documenting it, using fitness apps, or even rewarding yourself with health and fitness gifts. Buy yourself a new workout outfit, a new pair of running shoes, a reusable water bottle, a healthy eating cookbook or a new fitness DVD to reward your healthy habits. You know what will motivate you, so start doing what will inspire you to keep going.
5. Build your healthy habits one brick at a time.
If you feel you have a long way to go to create a healthy lifestyle, try and make one healthy new change per week. Every Sunday, take on one new healthy step. Maybe one week you decide to drink more water, and the next week you have one less dessert each week, and the third week you start packing healthy snacks for work … just keep adding healthy habits one brick at a time and build your healthy lifestyle week by week.
6. Be willing to be held accountable.
Enlist a friend or confidante to keep you accountable of your goals. Verbally saying “I’m going to try and run a mile every day this week” can help keep you accountable. You’ve put it out there in the universe and told your friends; now it’s up to you to keep your end of the bargain and actually follow through with your goal. If they’re willing, ask a few friends to join you. Setting goals together is an even better way to stay accountable.
7. Take fitness with you on the go.
For those days when getting in a workout seems impossible, let alone the lengthy one you’re perhaps working towards, try and do what you can. No one is perfect, and putting in the effort is what matters, even on days when you’d much rather bury yourself in a bag of potato chips. Sign up for an online workout community where you can stream workouts on the go–even quick ones–so you can get in your workout no matter where you are or what’s going on.
Use these tools and tips to restart your fitness if you find yourself lagging this month. Remember any day you wake up can be a new, fresh start. You don’t need a new year to be a new you. All you need is to make the decision to start once again.