Don't Make a Resolution, Make a Habit.

“If you want to be great, you’ve got to come to an understanding that you’ve got to put in the work.”  -Larry Fitzgerald, AZ Cardinals.

I love this time of year.  “It’s the New Year, time to get serious.”  I hear this from friends, family, even strangers in the grocery store.  January 1st, a new year, gives every one the feeling of a fresh start.  The duration is a different story.
Try to find an available piece of cardio equipment at any local gym and you’ll see exactly what I mean.  They are just saturated with what I call “Resolutioneers.” Don’t worry, most of them won’t even make it until Opening day of Cardinals Baseball.
After being in the fitness industry for about 10 years, I have gotten to be pretty good at observing who will fail within weeks or months of the new year. There is a VERY small percentage of those that I feel are in it for the long haul and will have great results. 
I have seen multiple posts on Facebook about people working out or dieting and they sound so motivated, but they are setting themselves up for failure from the beginning. It is so hard not to comment back, “You aren’t going to last 2 months.”  I’m a trainer; I’m supposed to be optimistic and encouraging right? Encouraging, yes, optimistic, no… I’m a realist… I’m hired to be a realist with my clients.
Anyone can achieve their fitness goals, and we, as trainers, can get you to your goals; however, you have to be mentally ready for the work. 
Think about the time(s) you, yourself, have said, “I want to lose weight”.  Now think about how many times you have failed in the past.  What caused you to fail? More than likely, it wasn’t a physical reason that made you fall off the wagon, but it was a mental reason.
To reach one’s fitness goals, it’s just as much mental work as it is physical.  I have always told my clients that getting one foot in the door at the gym was the hard part.  Once you’re in, it gets easier.
Here are some guidelines to follow in order to prepare you mentally as well as physically for the road to reaching your fitness goals:

  1. Set Realistic, short term goals as well as having your “Big Goal.”  If you have never worked out or you have been a healthy eater, making a goal to lose 25-50 pounds is taking a pretty big leap.  Instead, make your first goal attainable, such as getting a gym membership and going to the gym 3-4 times a week.  If you don’t have a gym nearby, start with a goal of going for a walk every day.   Start with one mile, and set a goal every week to walk further than the week before.
  2. Take Baby Steps.  It’s very common to see people who want to lose weight take drastic measures in their food intake.  They try going from 3000 calories to eating 900.  Extreme changes in diet can de-motivate anyone.  Instead, find things in your diet that are high calorie that you can remove. If you have a habit of drinking sodas, try cutting down.  An average regular 32 oz soda has over 400 calories! If you take them out of your diet, you will see immediate weight loss.
  3.  Get Support.  Taking on weight loss alone can be a pretty intimidating thing, especially if you have never attempted to try it before.  Why not get others on board?  Everyone should have a balance of eating healthy and being physically active.  Inform family, friends, and coworkers of your goals and your road to reaching them.  If you are having a bad day and you feel like veering off of your plan, having support can help keep you on track.
  4. Be Accountable and Responsible.  Let’s say you have been dieting for a week and you are feeling better and looking better, and you go into the break room at work and you see all sorts of pastries and cookies.  You think to yourself, “I have been working really hard; I deserve to have one thing.”  Next thing you know, you have consumed three doughnuts.  Then later that day you have some candy off of a coworker’s desk.  Then after work, you swing by for happy hour and have a drink. A few days later, you cannot understand why the scale hasn’t moved and your clothes feel snug again?  Logging your daily food intake will give you visual evidence of your progress (or lack of progress).  It’s easy to forget the bad stuff you have eaten when it isn’t written down in front of you.  Taking weekly measurements can also track your progress.  An Emerge personal trainer is the biggest tool for accountability.  We make sure you make it to your training sessions, that cardio exercise is happening when you are not training with us, and that your food log is completed and that your diet is improving.  When a client has a paid session and they know that they will be charged whether they are there or not, the client will show up. 🙂   Boot Camps that Emerge offers allow you to get in that additional workout in the company of others who have goals similar to your own.  Having that team “camaraderie” will push you more than you would working out solo.
  5. Find motivation. Everyone has different things that will motivate them, whether it’s a new workout outfit or shoes, or a new playlist of workout music.  One may have a vacation planned for spring break or a wedding or class reunion to attend in the summer. Take a “Before” photo of you.  When you hit a rut, look back at that picture and see how far you have come.  Seeing you at your worst is sometimes the best motivation to keep you from ever wanting to be in that place again.  Whatever it may be, keep your “motivation” around you 24/7.  You never know when you’ll need that “extra push” to do 10 more minutes of cardio or to avoid the desert bar at dinner.
  6. Reward yourself. You have lost 10 pounds on your way to your long term goal of 50 pounds.  Reward yourself, PROPERLY.  Indulging with a 600 calorie Dairy Queen Blizzard is not that.  Reward yourself in a way that keeps you wanting to push towards your goal.  If you have lost inches in your waist, get yourself a new pair of pants that show off your smaller midsection.  Go get yourself a massage to relax those muscles you have worked the past few weeks.  Whatever you decide, choose something that makes you feel accomplished, yet motivated to keep going.  Who doesn’t like rewards!?

Reaching your fitness/weight loss goals were never meant to be easy.  If they were, everyone would be doing it and we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic in this country.  May you have a successful and wonderful 2011!
Kimberly Renoud, Emerge Fitness