If you’re struggling to make fitness a habit then these seven ways to achieve your goal will make all the difference
Alan Willams is here with his no nonsense approach to motivation, including seven ways you can achieve your goal
Why do so many of us find ourselves re-starting our fitness journey so often?
Because we keep quitting!
We lose weight, we reach a plateau and then maybe we gain weight. And, instead of accepting that that’s part of the journey, we get demoralised and quit. And start again sometime in the future. And so the cycle repeats itself.
To create long term change, the attitude and mindset have to change. I believe people are so focused on the food/exercise variables, that they overlook the mental. And changing your body is not about your body, it’s about your mind. So, unless we have a clear plan and a sense of self awareness when faced with challenges, we’ll keep getting the same results.
Here’s a few practical tips to help you break that cycle. To achieve your goals, and make fitness a lifestyle.
Read more: The truth about motivation
Don’t do extremes
Don’t try to overhaul everything. This is a short-term mindset that only creates long-term pain. You want to lose a stone, and you want it now. So you’ll deprive yourself of all biscuits, chocolate or whatever your preferred treat is. You’ll attempt to go from a gentle walk twice a week to intense training five days per week. You’ll probably do okay for a week or two, and then you’ll either get injured, burn out or just quit. Willpower is a finite resource. On it’s own, it won’t be enough to create lasting change. Don’t be too restrictive or too extreme. Small, sensible, progressive and maintainable steps are a much better option.
Avoid emotional and reactive decisions
This one is a little easier said than done for sure. However, a little strategy and planning goes a long way. I believe in occasional treats. But plan them in such a way that they won’t turn into a binge and derail your progress. For clients that are consuming a lot of sugar I encourage them to make little deals with themselves. Rather than having a sugar binge in front of the TV every night maybe you could have a bar of chocolate with your cup of tea every Wednesday and Sunday evening instead? That won’t do any major damage in relation to your fitness goal and it also gives you a little of what you fancy.
Emotional responses will throw you off track. Turning to a sugar binge or alcohol every time you’ve had a bad day will likely slow down your progress. Firstly we need to have the self awareness to realise it’s happening. Then have a coping mechanism in place for when those situations arise. Funnily enough, I find training to have an incredibly calming and soothing effect. Try to be disciplined enough to turn to something like training as your stress relief, rather than comfort food. It may be challenging at first, but it’ll soon become your normal response if you persist with it. Base your decisions on logic, not emotion.
Read more: 5 nutrition hacks for performance
Remove the escape clause
Us humans are great at giving ourselves an out. We’re highly skilled at justifying, rationalising, and explaining away the things we’re not doing. Usually there’s a common denominator; it’s never our fault. We give ourselves a way out.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life, business and fitness is that you need to fully commit in order to maximise results. Consider this in relation to your fitness goal. Are you leaving a little safety net there for yourself just incase it doesn’t all go to plan? Maybe keeping your plans a secret because if you fail nobody will know and you won’t have lost face?
On the flipside of that, I like to verbalise my goals and share them with people, because it holds me accountable. It puts me in a frame of mind that I’m going to back up my words. That means I do the work required and then results increase exponentially. Whatever your escape clause is, consider removing it and committing fully to the goal. Remember, half committed is not committed at all.
Make it habit
Temporary behaviours produce temporary results. To create long-term change, it’s got to be part of your daily routine. And non-negotiable. For a little while you’ll have to make your fitness goals one of your top priorities. If it’s in fifth place on your list it won’t get done consistently. And without consistency, there will be no major results. While it may be challenging at first, it’s worth making a conscious effort to consider that things that need to happen in order for you to achieve your goals. Then make them happen.
Soon you’ll just do it on autopilot and there won’t be as many decisions to make as there are now. Once you get to that stage you’re forming a lifestyle.
Read more: 4 ways to stay motivated
You don’t need January 1st, a Monday, or “the right time”. The right time is always now. As we head toward the end of the year many people will have already switched off. A subconscious decision has been made that this year is a ‘write off’ and you’ll start again in January. You still have around five weeks until Christmas. You could make huge changes in five weeks.
So many people spend their whole lives circling a fitness goal, telling themselves they’ll do it someday. Very often, they still haven’t made any progress 10 years later. Why? Because they’re waiting for the right time or until their circumstances are just perfect.
Without wanting to sound harsh; it’ll be a long wait! Start now. Start with what you have. No matter how little that is. Just make a start and you’ll gain more knowledge and resources as you go.
Accountability is key. Be answerable to somebody, even if it’s just giving updates to a family member/ friend. For body composition, you can use weighing scales/tape measurements/progress pictures. Have clear goals and be accountable. Without accountability, your results won’t be as impressive.
Human nature dictates that we’re much more likely to give into temptation when there are no “repercussions” or somebody to be answerable to. Very often when working with a trainer clients feel like they don’t want to let the trainer down too so they become more disciplined. The more accountability there is, the better results tend to be.
Social media is also a great way of keeping yourself accountable if you have positive, supportive followers. Let them share in your journey. Share your meals, your workouts, anything that helps you stay on track.
Read more: 12 hacks to improve your finances
Don’t just set a goal of getting in shape for a wedding. That can be a useful motivator but look beyond that too. If the goal is only to get in shape for the wedding you’ll view the wedding day as your end date. You’ll go back your old “normal” in terms of eating habits and training.
I’m sure most of you have people you look up to, or who influence you. And you wonder how it’s possible to be where they are, or how they’re in such amazing shape.
There’s no huge secret. It’s years of consistency. Not stop-start-stop-start. The time will pass anyway so why not take your time, be patient and focus on creating forever change.
Alan Williams is a coach, trainer, motivator and expert in the areas of wellbeing and lifestyle, fitness and confidence building. For more information visit alanwilliamscoaching.com