As a lifelong fitness lover, I always get excited at the start of a New Year. It’s wonderful to see a fresh crop of faces sweating it out on the elliptical machine next to mine at New York Sports Club or squatting away at the barre in my Physique57 classes. In the back of my mind, however, I can’t help but wonder how many of these glistening faces will disappear come March. I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday as a chance to encourage everyone to pause for a few moments and assess how things are going so far – and also forgive yourself for any slip-ups.
When I talk to people about why they abandon their fitness journey, most of their reasons can be put in two categories:
- Getting discouraged easily: Maybe these thoughts crossed your mind over the weekend “I’ve worked out every single day since January 1st. I haven’t had one piece of chocolate or even a glass of wine, but I don’t see the hint of a six-pack yet.” Well, consider this your reality check. First of all, I’ve never been a proponent of embracing extreme restrictions to make healthy lifestyle changes. Denying yourself the things you like for too long can only end in disaster, such as devouring a whole cake or pizza instead of one slice. Second, it’s important to remember it takes a minimum of six weeks for anything to become a habit. Whether that’s fitting those five servings of fruits and veggies into your daily diet or finding your groove in spinning class, be patient. Stick with your plan and focus on the positives you have experienced since making some healthy changes. (Don’t stop reading now, some of those positives are mentioned below.)
- Doing too much too soon: Similar to my mantra about restrictions, I’m also not a fan of over-the-top workout plans for newbies to the fitness world. Which of the following scenarios sounds better to you?:
- Banging out a series of squats, planks and even modified push-ups and feeling a healthy “burn” in the muscles afterward and being able to tackle another workout the next day or
- Plowing through 50 burpees and/or pull-ups in far-from-perfect form only to suffer lower-back pain and be out of the game for five days
Sure, it seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately too many people take the less optimal choice and end up with plenty of pain and no gain. Choosing quantity over quality is a surefire way to put yourself at risk for injury…which leads to discouragement…which can ultimately lead to throwing in the towel on those fitness goals altogether. You already know slow and steady wins the race. When it comes to running down your health and fitness goals, I like to think of it as more of a lifelong marathon.
Finally, it you’re plugging away with your workouts and healthy eating choices, keep it up and remember to focus on the positive! In fact, I’ll be so bold to tell you forget what the scale says and take stock of any of these positive changes:
- A sharper focus at work or tackling that to-do list on the homefront
- A new “glow” to your skin
- Increased energy for everyday activities like playing with your kids
- Not needing to catch your breath after walking up that flight of stairs
- Getting a better night’s sleep
I leave you with one last reality: there will be “off” days. Even this fitness lover can admit there are times all I want to do is watch TV while sipping red wine and eating chocolate. It happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course. Just wipe away the cookie crumbs, chop some veggies, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!