Being consistent with healthy eating and exercise is tough for most people in the New Year period. January is a time when we often contemplate the idea of positive, healthy changes for ourselves. Overindulgence during the Christmas period is often a great motivator to start afresh and move towards the summer feeling healthier, leaner and fitter. The challenge, however, is January can be a tough time to start a fitness plan. The UK winter weather doesn’t exactly motivate, plus we are straight back into work after a relaxing festive break. Things are busy as ever… All this can result in low energy and ever decreasing motivation.
How do we stick to our ‘good intentions’ and ‘healthy promises’ to ourselves for the long-term to ensure our success? How do we become consistently consistent? These are my five most effective tips to ensure you stay focused on your goals long-term.
1# Create a Plan Around Your ‘Emotional’ Needs
Your new fitness plan should be linked to an emotional goal to ensure your success. For example; you may want to lose weight reactively after putting on a few extra pounds over Christmas, but possibly haven’t considered on a deeper level why losing weight may be important to you.
Example – A lady I once worked with wanted to lose a few pounds because she felt being slimmer would boost her confidence. It was only when we then investigated as to what was important about increasing her confidence we discovered she felt it would improve her chances of finding a partner and result in her feeling less lonely.
Getting in touch with our emotional needs like this allows us to acknowledge that actually (using this example) losing weight sometimes isn’t the primary goal after all but simply a catalyst to achieving something else – It’s the deeper goals which we should then focus on. Emotional drivers are much more powerful than focusing on pure logic alone and our goals should reflect that to keep us consistent.
Your plan should also be S.M.A.R.T (Specific Measureable Achievable Realistic and Time-Bound). Setting yourself any kind of goals without a plan is literally planning to fail. To read more about how to set goals properly and to learn more about smart goals read my post ‘The Importance of Planning in Health & Fitness’.
2# Implementation of your Plan
Of course, creating a plan is worthless if you aren’t actually going to do anything with it. Once you have worked out your plan the challenge is to ensure you effectively take ‘action’ to progress you forward. You can do this by following a few simple tips:
- Manage your planned tasks into your diary and prioritise them as ‘important’
- Start with small, regular objectives which are easy to achieve
- Focus on achieving just one task at a time and avoid multi-tasking
- Commit to your planned actions
3# Create Positive Habits and Routines
Once you have decided on your actions to implement your plan, the next step is to repeat those actions until they become second nature and a newly formed habit. We do things all the time because our subconscious brain (which controls our habits) tells us they are important. For example; you wouldn’t go to work without brushing your teeth, would you?
Healthy eating, meal preparation, exercising, drinking lots of water and getting to bed on time are all examples of actions which, over time, can become healthy habits and a new way of life. It’s suggested it takes 28 days to create a habit, so focus on your actions for a month and you should find at the end of this period your new action becomes second nature.
4# Eliminate Negative Thinking
Negative thinking can often be lead to losing focus on our positive objectives. One way to manage this is to begin focusing on your own negative thought patterns – For example;
“I can’t do it”
“I’m worried I will fail”
“I’m not good enough to start yet”
These are all examples of negative thinking patterns. The challenge here is to turn this thinking around and reframe the negative into a positive – For example;
“I’m not good enough to start yet” can instead be turned around to “I’m going to enjoy practicing and improving as I learn”.
Maintaining a positive mind-set is a sure fire way of keeping your motivation high and exercising your ability to solve problems as they arise. It’s this way of thinking which will help you become as consistent as possible, long-term.
5# Focus on Results
Nothing motivates like seeing the results of your hard work. If you are eating healthily and exercising, seeing yourself in those smaller jeans and feeling great wearing them is the perfect way to keep your positive fire burning. However, the outcome of your constant efforts aren’t just your physical health and fitness goals, becoming consistent itself is a behavioural outcome which deserves acknowledgement and praise all on its own.
For example; we tend to reward ourselves when we have lost a certain amount of weight… But do we reward ourselves for going to the gym twelve times in a month or for tracking our food intake everyday for several weeks? If we focus on our planned actions being goals within themselves, it reframes our thinking from our actions being a ‘difficult chore’ to ‘a task well done’ if we acknowledge how well we’ve done working hard on them.
Reframe Your Thinking
I see examples of this when working with my clients. People who focus primarily on losing weight have far less success in terms of actual weight loss than people who focus on athleticism. The people who focus on weight loss will often see exercise as hard work and a chore. People who focus on achieving that new Personal Best or trying out a new way of exercising however, often stay trim without having to focus on the weight loss as much
So, there you go… A few simple tips to help keep your head in the right place while you set about your New Year Resolutions this January. These basic techniques work. They may seem simple, however, implemented properly, the simple things are often the most effective.They are tried and tested, and have produced great results for me and my clients over the years, personally and professionally. You can do it too if you really want to!
Believe in yourself, take one day at a time and focus daily on your ‘planned actions’. Before you know it, you’ll be where you want to be. The icing on the cake will be getting there will have felt both easy and rewarding at the same time.
Leave Me a Comment
How are you finding your motivation this New Year? Have you started as you mean to go on or are you still struggling to get going? Leave me a message in the comment section below and I would love to hear your story. If you need help or advice I will do my best to help you.
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Nicely put Danny… need to refine my action plan and get going for the new year!
Thank you Beth! Happy to be able to help.
Great blog Dan, very interesting way of explaining your system. I am quite stressed at the mo, but know that I could handle things better if I got fitter. Thanks Dan
Hi Jeanne, lovely to hear from you. It’s always good to know I’m able to help you, if only in a small way. Keep up the good work with your health and fitness, I know you can do it.