One of my clients messaged me this week saying she had to use the treadmill over the rowing machine because of all the January gym-goers. Despite being a trainer and wanting people to get fitter and make positive changes to their health, I responded saying ‘don’t worry they’ll be gone in a month’. Which is awful! I know, however, the truth is that most people even with good intentions give up their new ‘healthy habits’ before the end of January.
This got me thinking.
Why do people give up so quickly?
I believe many people go into the New Year with an all or nothing approach. They went into full indulgence mode during December and now it’s time to be restrictive and workout every day of the week. There is no way that this is sustainable long term. After 2/3 miserable weeks of feeling hungry and weak, people give up and go back to their old ways.
Another thing is that your motivation does not last forever. That’s what gets you started, what gets you down to the gym to buy your membership and down to the gym for the first few weeks in January. Motivation is linked to emotion and that feeling will change after a few weeks. Motivation is what will get you started but discipline is the thing that will keep you going.
As a population now expect instant results. For anyone who has been on a fitness journey ever, will be able to tell you that results aren’t instant, they take hard work and there is no easy way to get to your goal (that being said there are smarter ways, but that’s for another blog).
However, if you want to make long term sustainable changes, here are a few things you can do:
Be patient, don’t expect results overnight
Track your progress in a variety of ways. If you are aiming for fat loss, don’t rely on the scale, use body measurements with a tape measure and progress photos. If your goal is more performance-based, record the weight you are lifting each session or how fast you are running/swimming, etc, so that you can see your progress over time.
Don’t go all in
If you haven’t trained before and had a relatively poor diet, don’t suddenly start training 6 days a week and cut out all processed food, alcohol and caffeine. Do things gradually. Start by moving more, this could be working out in the gym, or it could be doing a half an hour walk every day. Start cutting out things in your diet, but perhaps start off by cutting down on alcohol or trying to get more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Then each month you can progress your training or tweak your diet further.
If you’ve never worked out before, or done a certain type of training, research about it first. Don’t go into a gym and start deadlifting with a barbell if you’re not sure how to use it. Research, watch videos or find a coach who will help you and introduce you to lifting safely.
If you wish to lose fat
Then as much as some people hate it, I would calorie track. Download my fitness pal, record what you are eating and make sure that you are in a calorie deficit. This should not be too big, around 300 calories works well to help keep you on track and not make you feel restricted.
When you feel your motivation fading, think of little things you can do that will keep you going.
For example organizing with friends to go to a spin class, or go for a hike. Meal prepping on a Sunday to help to keep you on track for the rest of the week.
Whatever your health goal is this year, following some of these tips should help to keep you on track!
Have a happy and healthy 2020!