I work with people who want to lose weight more than anything else. So, why is it when people stand on the scales to have their body-fat measured there are some weeks when they actually get fatter despite working with a trainer and having all the nutrition and exercise support they need at their fingertips?
It’s probably the same reason for people who have a situation in their lives they are unhappy with, yet never do anything to really challenge or change it. An example is when someone is unhappy with their body, yet never really changes their diet successfully or adheres to a long-term progressive exercise plan; the reason is that desire and motivation for something are two completely different things.
Desire Alone is Not Enough
In my business I see the differences all the time. An example is when I consult with a new client when they first begin training with me. They are often really keen and enthusiastic to have me help them start their new training regime and begin losing weight with the expectation that it will happen quickly and easily.
I then mention that food is actually 70% of the results they achieve and ask them what are they prepared to do to change their eating habits. Quite quickly people’s body language changes when you ask them what they are prepared to do for themselves.
A Decline in Motivation
Another situation people find themselves in is promising themselves they will have a ‘good week’ of diet and exercise just for the weekend to come along and ruin their promise. Measurement day comes around again and the good work they have achieved all week was set back by a weekend of indulgent behaviours and neglecting their promises to themselves.
The outcome is they often end up sad and unhappy because they are not any slimmer than the previous week. The desire is now stronger than ever, but the lack of results causes motivation to decline, meaning they are less likely to achieve fat loss the following week and so it goes on and on.
Desire & Motivation Are Different Animals
Putting it simply, having a strong desire for something is a deep, emotional want for it. Having strong motivation for something is being prepared to do anything to achieve it, sometimes at any cost.
The challenge here is that we are programmed psychologically toward what we want rather than what we need. How many times in your life has you been asked ‘what do you want for dinner tonight?’ Probably a lot more than ‘what do you need for dinner tonight?’
Actually what we need is a balance of the correct nutrients, a specific amount of calories per day and to exercise our bodies regularly to keep them well oiled and working properly. Often what we want is food that tastes nice, to be full up and content, oh and hard vigorous and potentially painful exercise? No thank you.
Set Some Goals
Firstly, simply wanting something is not enough. Desire is an emotional response to something you have become fixated on. If you are serious, you have to stop ‘wanting’ and start ‘doing’.
What you then need to do first is to set some clear goals to kick-start your motivation. My advice would be to firstly work out what it is specifically you want to achieve first – That will give you a tangible target.
It would then help to create some measures so you will know when you have achieved what it is you want. Ideally, set both short and long-term measures to keep you motivated in the short-term.
You need to work out how you are going to achieve it, which will become the plan behind getting what you want. You also need to consider what resources you need and when all this is going to happen by and commit to a date of when it will happen by.
This is called a SMART goal (Specific Measureable Achievable Resources Time-bound) and it’s how I set up goals with my clients to get them as motivated toward achieving their goals as possible.
There is an old Chinese proverb which I love… ‘You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time’. Choosing to commit to unachievable goals is probably one of the main causes of people quitting on their dreams.
Start small and commit to only what you know you can achieve. Want to lose weight? Aim for a maximum of a pound a week, even if you have several stones to lose. Want to start exercise? Maybe just start once a week. Trying to workout everyday when you are just starting out will leave you so sore and you may end up hating it, that’s if you can even find the time to work out everyday in the first place.
Want to improve your diet? Start by reducing the things you know you shouldn’t be having, such as; sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks and alcohol before promising yourself a perfectly nutritionally balanced diet. Start small and build up as things get easier and you start to create new habits.
Keep your eyes on the prize and stay committed. Last weeks blog post Top Ten Tips For Fitness & Fat Loss number one tip was the importance of consistency. It’s not enough to focus on what you want now and then, it needs to be in the fore front of your mind consistently.
It’s especially important when you want to lose weight as food has such a major impact on your results and we eat at least three times a day.
Making the right food choices is key and that means the right mind-set when you are just waking up in the morning, when you are busy at work and when you are tired in the evening. The mind is like a muscle – it needs to be exercised and you need to practice working it to make it stronger. Stay focused on your goals consistently for a week or so and next thing you know, your habits will start to change toward you achieving your new goals without you realising you are doing it.
Nothing motivates quite like seeing results. Getting into that once to small pair of jeans, feeling amazing in that bikini you never thought you would wear again and hearing compliments about how amazing you look. Lets not kid ourselves, these things make us feel great and are a fantastic motivator to keep going.
A great tip is to hang on to those memories because anchored to them is your motivation. Save pictures of yourself looking great, store text messages or emails from people complimenting you, and keep looking at your measurements dropping from one week to the next.
You can mark the tape measure on a week to week basis and look back at where you started and how much smaller you are. All these are great ways to remind yourself how well you have done.
Re-evaluate When Things Are Not Working
So, now you have your goals you know what you are going to be aiming for, by when, how you are going to get there, what resources you need and you have your new-found focus. You’re working hard toward your goals and sticking to your plan… But hang on, something isn’t right. You are still where you were and nothing has changed.
Yes, you may have goals, a plan and are focused. You may need to consider though your plan may not always work the way you want it to and sometimes, they don’t. In some cases, it’s not even the right plan to begin with which is often only something we can learn on the journey.
The short-term measures you have committed to will let you know if things are working for you or not. If they are not, you have to take responsibility to do something about it. That means tweaking the variables of you plan.
If it’s weight loss you want and it’s not coming off, you can work out harder, for longer and / or reduce your calories. Try that for a week then re-evaluate your results. If you want to build muscle and it’s just not happening… Are you eating enough? Are you training properly? Do you need to seek advice? Are you consistent with your regime?
I honestly don’t believe in failure. I believe when we are not achieving the things we set out to, it’s an opportunity to learn about ourselves and what it is that’s stopping us from being where we want to be.
Those with closed minds may scoff, but as a coach and a trainer there are always multiple options for achieving a goal. Not achieving it just means that you haven’t found the right way yet.
Have A Great Work Ethic
The final and probably most important thing to consider when wanting to keep seeing results and to maintain a high level of motivation, is to consistently work hard toward what you want. Nothing ever worth having comes easy and where there is a challenge, there is very often a benefit of some sort.
Having the right level of focus and a solid plan without a real intention to then put the hard work in to make your goal a reality is a bit like a firework on Guy Fawkes night with no fuse to light.
This is true to any goal you set yourself, but most relevant in the world of fitness. If you want to lose fat, you have to convince your body you don’t need it anymore. That means working hard at keeping your diet clean and it means applying yourself with your workouts to physically burn off the amount of fat that you want to lose.
If you want to increase muscle tone and build muscle it’s about consistently breaking the body down to then rebuild and repair to encourage growth. If you’re not working hard enough to break your tissues down in the first place it probably won’t happen for you.
So, now you know what you want and have worked out how to get it. You know what to do when things stop working and you know whatever happens you cannot fail. You now have all the tools to start moving toward you new goals. The key question, however, is will you?