You know the drill… Every January, literally everyone vows to step up their gym game. Everyone is inspired (post-holiday muffin top guilt, maybe?) to eat healthier. Suddenly, gyms are unusually packed and grocery store fruit and produce aisles are in a constant state of traffic jam as people fight over who gets the last bunch of trendy, overpriced designer kale because they all read an article in a gossip mag preaching it as *the* new green superfood.
Well… Now that it’s February, please trust that gym attendance has gone back to normal and the fights at the store have returned to the beer, chip, and ice cream aisles. People have quickly given up their hopes of being healthy in favor of their previous diet habits. But, mind you, they didn’t “quit” or “give up” on their resolutions – that would imply they had committed to them in the first place. That would admit they failed… and no one likes to be a quitter, or a loser. They have not failed! They have merely changed their mind and found their goals unsuitable or just not worthwhile of their time. These are called excuses, and we are all full of them.
1 in 3 people will give up on their resolutions before the end of January. 73% of people will give up before reaching their goals. Only 45% of people actually make New Years Resolutions. This is a sad but accurate indication of our collective willpower.
Like I said in my 2015 reflection post, I’ve made one of my resolutions getting back into shape. Since moving to LA, I’ve fallen off my workout grind and while I’ve maintained a fairly healthy diet and weight, I definitely feel out of shape. The new year was as good a reason as any for me to refresh my commitment to my body – and booty – back. I spent a few years working very hard to lose over 40 lbs, and I’m not okay with letting my efforts go to waste.
People continuously tell me how good I look these days and it honestly makes me so uncomfortable. I’m not fishing for compliments or validation – I’m just being candid about my relationship with my body image and self-confidence at the present moment. I feel skinny fat, which is an entirely new experience for me… As someone who spent the majority of her life between 175-188 lbs, I kinda feel like I don’t belong in this body sometimes, because I had always seen myself as a thicker, curvy girl. Now my resting weight is usually between 142-145 lbs.
I can vividly remember the time in my life I was reasoning with myself that I was big boned, *thick,* and just probably would never weigh below 175… Turns out I was feeding myself lies in an effort to make myself feel better about myself (see: “I don’t really mind how I look” excuse above). I had to seriously work to overhaul my habits and lifestyle to create one that supported my focus on getting healthy. It was hard, it sucked, it was discouraging, it was exhilarating, frustrating, but overall the most rewarding experience and struggle I’ve ever had to go through.
I don’t have to work so hard anymore or be so meticulous about my diet and training program now because I don’t have excess weight to lose. But on days where I eat like shit and then I wake up feeling fat and bloated, I see myself as I used to be, uncomfortable with myself at 185 lbs and trying so hard to rationalize it was just the way I was. It’s a wake up call I’ve decided to welcome, because it’s gotten my ass back in gear again. I’ve started working out on a consistent basis and dialed my diet back in to include more vegetables and less takeout.
All that being said, I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I’m no stranger to the gym, and have learned over the years how to keep up with a training program amidst a busy life schedule. I’ve endured my fair share of health struggles in years past, and while my current body goals are not nearly as lofty as they once were, it’s humbling to remember where I came from. To see my progress and transformation over the years, check the pics in a post I wrote a while back: Learning to Love My Body.
In the spirit of being a successful “get fit” resolutioner, I’ve thought up my top 5 “stick with it” tips to share with anyone looking to get their ass in gear with me this year. I hope they are as useful for you as they have been for me!
1. Prioritize your time. Make cooking or working out a requirement, not an option. Plan your meals and prep in advance. Plan your schedule around your workout – not your workout into your schedule.
I know, I know. You get up, rush to get ready, go to work all day, then finally get home. You want nothing more than a delicious dinner and a big ass glass of wine – ME TOO. Realistically, between work, your personal obligations/social life, and sleep, there really isn’t time to work out or cook healthy for yourself every night. *sigh* It’s just too much. You can’t do it all, right? No one is perfect. You’ll take an extra five pounds creeping over the waistband of your pants for a blameless, exercise-free existence.
REALITY CHECK: It’s not that hard to be healthy, it’s just in your head. Take responsibility for yourself. Did you know Netflix has this really awesome feature, it’s called pause? Your couch will be A-OK without your ass keeping it warm for an hour or so. Stop making excuses…. There really is no excuse, for making an excuse to not make an effort. FIND some time to move your body and break a sweat, and if you can’t “find” any, MAKE some.. IDGAF if it’s at 6am or 8pm.
I wish I had someone yelling at me every single time I decided to order out and collapse on the couch with a bottle of cab sauv instead of going for a run or doing a yoga class. Choose to change your priorities. Decide to spend a few hours on Sunday cooking some healthy food to keep in your fridge for the week. Pick a yoga class and time to attend. Take a girlfriend with you to the gym and do cardio while catching up on life. Then get happy hour cocktails after. #BALANCE
2. Make healthy habits worth your while. Set goals and incentivize yourself to reach them… Positively reinforce new, good behavior with rewards.
Today I finally forced myself to attend a bikram yoga class, after being out of practice for well over a year… I am certainly a healthy, fit and able human at this point in my life, but the mental fortitude and physical endurance required for a 90 minute yoga class in a sweaty 105 degree room is something I’ve successfully avoided for too long. I am not too proud to say 90% of my motivation to finally buck up and attend one was because I promised myself a post-yoga manicure after class. Be it a mani, handbag, new clothes, a cheat meal, or anything that gets your blood pumping – pick something you actually care to get to motivate you to get your ass moving when it wants to stay glued to the couch. Don’t give it to yourself until you’ve worked out/reached a milestone/whatever you set as the reward point.
For me, I always get more excited about breaking a sweat and struggling through a workout if I have cute new clothes to show off – even if my body isn’t on point. It’s not so much materialistic, like “having the new Lululemon gear,” as much as it is making me appreciate my bod and feelin good that I’m doing something that lets me put these cute workout clothes on.
PRO TIP: Don’t do stupid shit like buy jeans a size down before you’ve actually gotten your size down – that’s discouraging. It’s much more motivating to realize you’ve started to shrink out of your current clothes than pour yourself into your “one day, hopefully” clothing. Buy workout clothes. Thank me later.
3. Accept that results do not happen overnight. Learn to appreciate the journey and any progress will be motivating and worthy of celebration.
I am pretty sure I gave up on 95% of my “diets” in college and during the years I was helplessly gaining weight because I only ever dieted long enough to get back to what I considered to be an acceptable weight for myself. When I got to that low point (high point, figuratively speaking) where I weighed 190, I realized it didn’t matter what I ultimately got down to as long as I started making changes to lose some weight and stuck with them. I had an arbitrary goal of weighing 165-175, but never thought it would be possible for me to ever weigh less than that.
Fast forward 5 years and I’ve been 145 lbs for over a year. I did not get here from obsessing over my calories or stalking the numbers on a scale, I did it by implementing healthy changes into my life to create habits that would serve me well in the long term. There was no quick fix or corners to cut, I learned that by failing to keep my weight off in years past. There is no easy out. Accept that, and you’ll start to enjoy the process of getting healthy or getting in shape… Your self-worth, self-confidence, and self-love will be the better for it, and the motivation to continue to treat yourself well will be abundant.
Realize that your goals, or current body, or any other issues you want to fix – they do not define you. Your willingness to acknowledge and deal with them head on, and dedication to perservering through the difficulties of working through your weaknesses, is what matters. When you start to view yourself like a wonderful work in progress that is only getting better instead of a waste of space who will never be good enough – that’s when you will start to create REAL change for yourself, be it physical or otherwise.
4. Surround yourself with positive motivation.
I cannot stress this one enough! I used to have the top of my bathroom mirror plastered with fitspo from my Pinterest – motivating quotes and pictures of abs, Crossfit athletes, cute Nike kicks, you get the idea. I don’t think I realized it at the time but it was a critically motivating factor – every time I saw me, the current me, the me who was a work in progress, I saw those words and those bodies that I wanted to be more like and I remembered why I was doing what I was doing, putting in the time at the gym and the work in the kitchen. Just like it’s hard to be healthy with tons of junk food lying around, it’s hard to eat shitty and be lazy when you have flat abs, nice butts, and positive mantras everywhere you look…
PS. This goes for people, too – keep those who are supportive around you, and eliminate those who get mad at you for not drunk eating Taco Bell with them. They’re just as much excess fat in your life as on your body. You’ll be figuratively (possibly literally) lighter without their toxic weight on your shoulders.
Another tip: Follow motivational or fitness accounts on social media. Yes, some of them are cheesy, but there are many real people out there who choose to share their programs, diets, recipes, and energy on social and they are great inspiration and motivation. If you have specific questions, ask for their expertise.
(that last one is actually me in 2012, doing one of the Crossfit Open workouts)
5. Be realistic.
This goes along with what I was saying in #3… You won’t see small but satisfactory progress if you’re only focused on the end goal. I think people (myself included) tend to give up because they set huge and VAGUE, health and fitness goals that are impossible without planning and persistence.
Be realistic. Define your goals, then break them into actionable steps – it’s hard to quit when you can see tangible improvement. You’ll set yourself up for a series of small successes that will keep you motivated and positive about your progress, and that will help keep you moving forward instead of feeling doomed to fail because you feel like you’re putting in all this work but going nowhere. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself! It takes TIME to create any worthwhile change. Once you break your goals down into possible, bite size chunks – that’s when anything is possible.
How do you guys stay motivated? Share the wisdom and health wealth in a comment below!