You’ve finally decided to adopt a new lifestyle and transform your body…again. This time you have the perfect plan for your training, nutrition and supplementation, and you’re not going to fall off the wagon like before. You’ll get up early when you have to, eat boring meals when you have to, train your heart out and avoid all of the indulgences that keep you from reaching your goals. Sound familiar?
If you’re like most fitness beginners – in fact, even if you’ve been lifting hard and eating right for years – you’ve probably thought the above more times than you can remember. Whether you have a tough time sticking to any program at all, or a short attention span keeps you hopping from one plan to the next, you haven’t really seen any program through to completion.
Don’t worry, though! You’ve at least started, which is half of the battle of any difficult task. Plenty of successful fitness enthusiasts – and even bodybuilders, competitive lifters and models – have gone through the same pattern of starting and stopping before they’ve knuckled down and gotten consistent. If you want to finally make fitness a lifestyle, and not just a temporary thing you do to lose weight, start following these top tips for sticking to your plan!
Don’t chase perfection.
Perfect is the enemy of good, and all too often, people chasing perfection fall off the wagon far more often than if they’d come to terms with a few slip-ups here and there. A cheat meal once or twice per week, a missed workout here and there – these certainly aren’t things you should aim for, but you can’t get down on yourself when they happen! More importantly, you won’t be able to sustain the fit lifestyle for long if you never allow yourself some indulgences.
You may feel like no temptation is too much to resist when you’re first starting out, but you can’t maintain a 100 percent perfect training schedule and diet for the rest of your life. Plus, for the vast majority of people, there is little difference in terms of results between 90 or even 80 percent adherence and 100 percent. You may feel guilty eating a burger once a week or skipping a workout to hang out with friends, but unless you’re an elite athlete, you likely won’t hurt your progress.
Make it fun!
If your workouts aren’t fun, you’re not going to want to complete them, and you can only get through so many boring, repetitive sessions before you just call it quits. Of course you have an end goal, and you will have to do some things in the gym that you don’t enjoy, but each session should involve at least something you look forward to. This could include fun exercises that play to your strengths, as well as challenging routines that leave you with a sense of accomplishment.
Spice Up Your Meals.
There’s no two ways about it: If you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to eat less than you’re eating now, and you’re probably going to have to cut way back on some of your favorite foods. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your meals! If you’re cutting calories then you probably won’t be able to eat as much fat or as many carbs as you’re used to, but you can still make dishes taste great with herbs, spices, and high-heat cooking techniques like roasting and sauteing. And, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are plenty of delicious and safe sugar substitutes you can use to make healthier versions of your favorite desserts. Not every meal needs to be a gourmet affair, but you’re not going to stick the plan if you can never enjoy your food.
Track Your Progress.
Some trainers promote variety to keep workouts interesting and fun, and while that’s all well and good, progression is far more important! You’ll change up your weekly workouts countless times throughout your life, but during any given shorter-term program, you want to be making tangible progress in the gym. Keep track of your weight, reps, sets and rest periods, and strive to improve at least one of those data points every time you train. Variety may seem fun, but the motivational boost you get when you see tangible progress on paper can’t be beat!
A great deal of free time outside of or even at work may seem like a blessing, but it can become a curse when you’re trying to stick to a diet. Hunger, real or imagined, will you have searching for food when you might otherwise be working, and the treats your friends and co-workers are eating won’t help you resist temptation.
So, if you’re having trouble managing hunger on a weight-loss diet, or if you just can’t seem to resist the pull of other people’s treats, find something interesting to keep you busy! Options include new hobbies, good books or even odd jobs or increased responsibilities at work. Use the time you’re now NOT spending focusing on food to enrich yourself in other ways.
Hire a Coach
When all else fails, having someone to keep you accountable can make a world of difference. And, while friends and family members might help you stick to your plan, they’re not being paid to keep you on the straight and narrow! By actually paying for a quality coach or trainer, you’re giving yourself a financial incentive to accomplish your goals, and you’re getting help from someone whose job it is to ensure your success. If that seems too costly or time-consuming, think of all the time and money you’ve already spent on workouts, diets, gym memberships and supplements that did so little for you in the long run. You probably won’t need one-on-one help forever, but hiring a trainer is a great way to keep yourself on track as you embark on the long process of adopting the fitness lifestyle.
Photo Credits: Doug Larson of Doug Larson Photography