Picture this: You're two months into your New Year's resolution, and the luster is fading fast. The workouts take too long, the diet is annoying, and you just want things to go back to the way they were. To make things worse, you feel bad about yourself for wanting to quit. Evidence of your "failure" is everywhere. The perfectly chiseled, smiling fitness models on magazine covers even seem to glare at you in line at the grocery store.
Don't let the tough stuff drag you down! Magazine covers don't matter. Your fitness is your own. Your second chance begins with the realization that you are becoming the best version of yourself. It should never be about comparisons. Trust me: I've been where you are, and I know how you feel.
Although it's difficult not to give in to your dwindling motivation, it's not impossible. There's always time to turn around! If you need some extra help, try these five steps. They'll help you rediscover your motivation and get you back on track to becoming your healthiest self.
When I decided to make changes to my life, I had to take stock of my habits. I had to evaluate how I trained, how I ate, and how my other activities influenced my health.
Once I did that, I consciously and repeatedly told myself I was in charge of my life. Every choice I made about my health was my own.
Giving myself that responsibility helped me set my heart on what I wanted to do. I had the ability to make myself into the happiest, healthiest, humblest person I could be. I encourage everyone to do the same.
Once I took ownership of my life, I set a plan to make a change. Everyone has a busy schedule, so it's important to be committed to those times you know you can make it to the gym. It's also important to give yourself an extra day for emergencies and unplanned problems.
If you know you can make it to the gym four days per week, start by scheduling three. That way, if you have a sick kid or have unexpected car problems, you already carved out time in your life to deal with them. Outsmart your excuses!
Once you make the commitment, just go. Everyone, even seasoned gym patrons, gets into a funk. Sometimes going to the gym is just a chore. But once you get done with your workout, you can feel great about your accomplishment. You will feel great about your workout, and you can also be proud of kicking your old self in the pants!
No more settling down on that comfy couch. You made a healthy decision for your life. Pat yourself on the back.
I see too many people feeling guilty about what they eat. It's an unhealthy habit, so kick it before you even start thinking that way.
Here's my approach: The word "diet" is simply what you choose to eat. So instead of saying, "I can't eat that, I am on a diet," you should say, say "I am choosing to replenish and fuel my body for the hard work it has to perform today." Your body wants clean, healthy food. It needs it to be properly fueled. If you feed your body crap, you're going to feel like crap. It's no punishment to forego the doughnut—it's a better choice.
It's also OK to keep in mind that food is an important aspect of your social life. I use the 80/20 rule. I eat for performance 80 percent of the time. Because I eat clean, healthy food the vast majority of the time, 20 percent of my diet gets to be something extra yummy.
Food isn't bad. Don't look at it that way. I don't even like the phrase "cheat meal." I think it's bad for your mental health. If you follow the 80/20 rule, your "cheat meal" is not cheating. It's a "treat" that celebrates your hard work. If you swing through the drive-thru on your way home from work, then that's your 20 percent treat for the week.
When I was in the Marines, a crusty first sergeant stood in front of 200 young Marines and said, "Motivation is like a shot. It's great for the short time it lasts, but once it wears off, you can find yourself back at the place you started. You might even feel worse and have a bad hangover from the 'high' you felt before."
At the time, I thought he was full of it and was just flapping his gums just to hear himself talk. But now, I see what he said is completely true. We've all seen something on television, or heard about a friend's success, and jumped immediately on the motivation train. But as soon as that train stops, you're usually not far from where you started.
That same crusty first sergeant also said, "Instead of looking for motivation, look for inspiration, which can last a lifetime." Don't look for others for motivation; look to yourself for inspiration. Think about what made you want to change. Maybe you want to get your pre-pregnancy body back, or you're fighting off diabetes, or maybe you just want to feel comfortable in your own skin and live an active life with and for your children.
Whatever your reason, keep it in the forefront of your mind. It needs to remain the reason you stay the course.
You may have started your fitness journey with the goal to compete in a bikini or physique competition. If you're not there yet, and you're supposed to be, don't worry. In order to rekindle your drive, you just need a few smaller, short-term goals.
If you've been unable to walk a mile, make the goal to do that; sign up for a 5K; or try three new, healthy recipes this week. You can also set goals to play with your kids outside for an hour per week, take walks after lunch, or sign your family up for a charity walk. Fitness should be fun! Your goal to be healthier should not hold you back from social interaction.
Keep in mind that, to win the war, we sometimes lose battles. If you slip up and miss a planned workout or your 20 percent treats end up more like 50 percent, accept it and move on! The worst thing you can do is stew in your failure.
Doing that just makes negative connections to your training and food. It's inevitable that you'll fall short sometimes. Shrug it off, have fun, and never settle for the old you!