In the fitness world, I see a lot of negativity about “New Year’s resolutioners”. I understand this. When I worked out at a gym, I hated January because I was fighting for space with people who didn’t know gym etiquette, didn’t know what they were doing, and wouldn’t be there in a month anyways. It’s a frustrating thing to see someone who needs help and just won’t ask for it, open their minds, or really give it a shot. However…
I was once a New Year’s resolutioner, too. The difference between me that one year, and the hoards of people on the bandwagon right now is that 3 years later, I am still keeping the promises I made to myself that January 1, 2009. This isn’t luck, or an accident, or “will-power”. It’s a choice I make every single day.
So what is the secret to making it stick? By now, January 3rd, you’re probably so sick of hearing “it’s a lifestyle, not a diet” and phrases of that nature that are flying around everywhere. Motivation is great, but practical planning is realistic and habit forming. Here is what you need to do to make a PERMANENT change, and never again be a New Year’s Resolutioner.
Let me tell you something. 95% of the information you see on social media, in magazines, on tv, etc about health and fitness is a crock of sh*t. It’s hyped up misinformation that is formulated to get you to buy what they’re selling. Some of it actually infuriates me, some of it is just people blindly passing on misinformation.
Like when I google “healthy recipes” and see oxymorons like “healthy cheesy pasta” or “healthy crescent roll-ups”, it makes me want to scream, right along with the “exercises to lose belly flab”. I look back at my own food journals from when I thought I was eating healthy and I see things like “waffles”-healthy, I thought, because they were whole wheat (nevermind that they were doused in syrup)! And I wondered why I could not lose weight.
Find a fitness expert, someone who knows their stuff, is educated, is living the life, and read everything they have to say. I read books, perused fitness blogs, watched documentaries, and then by trial and error found what worked for me and what didn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who is in shape and healthy how they do it and what they suggest.
Don’t Go For a Complete Overhaul
Long term change is best made in baby steps. A big lifestyle overhaul will leave you miserable and thinking of nothing but what you miss about your old unhealthy life, and is a recipe for failure. Make yourself one big goal, maybe 6 months from now as your target, then give yourself weekly or even monthly goals to getting there. WRITE IT DOWN and put it somewhere you will see it each day. When you’ve mastered it, cross it off! For example:
LONG TERM GOAL: Eating all healthy food and exercising daily by June 1
Steps to get there:
- Week 1-Add fresh veggies to each meal and begin walking everyday
- Week 2-cut out all white grains and sugars, and begin running 30 seconds at a time
- Week 3-cut out diet sodas and begin HIIT training 3x a week
- Week 4-drinking 2L of water a day and begin running 1 minute at a time
Once you have educated yourself in step 1, you will know what your goals should be in step 2!
Focus On How You Feel and Your Health, Not How You Look
When I changed my focus from “I want to look like that girl” and “I want to be skinny” to “I like how healthy food makes me feel” and “I want to feel energized”, it stuck. As much as we all want to look our best, the process of beating ourselves up because we don’t look like a fitness model right away usually spirals into poor eating choices because it’s just too shallow of a reason to make permanent change, and it takes some time to see a difference in our bodies.
Focusing on how good you feel will bring immediate gratification that will motivate you daily; and even when you mess up and eat junk food, paying attention to how fatigued and gross you feel will instantly remind you to get back on track. Looking your best will come soon enough, as an added bonus to feeling great.
Never Give Up, No Matter How Much You Fail
Another secret of mine: I fail all the time. The past two weeks of holidays, I was a sugar-eating, alcohol-drinking, fat-gaining maniac. But I stopped using failure as an excuse to give up completely. I learned from my failures, and I tried harder. Over time, that adds up to overall success. Not perfection, because there is no such thing. But I am always striving to do better and keep my goals in sight.
I promise you that just like everything in life, you will have bumps in the road in your diet and fitness plan. You will fail spectacularly and feel like giving up. If you post anything on your mirror for motivation this year, make it these three words: JUST KEEP GOING.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Make a daily plan of what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Plan how you will handle parties and dinners out before you show up. Look menus up online and find the healthiest choice before you go. Write down what exercises you will be doing each day.
Make yourself accountable by keeping a journal. Make a grocery list and buy only the foods on it. Once you are regularly following your plan, it will become second nature…you only need to put the work in until it becomes your lifestyle. Planning allows little to no room for impulse, which is usually the driving catalyst behind failure.
These are the main principles I used to go from a yearly New Year’s Resolutioner to a permanent healthy lifestyle; and with the desire to succeed, following these steps will keep you on the path to a permanently healthy, fit, energized lifestyle as well.