Challenge Yourself to Keep Motivation in the New Year

Monday, January 16, 2012

Setting resolutions and working toward a fitness or weight loss goal is great, but it is really only half the battle.  It is the ability to sustain the weight loss, and maintain the fitness gains that is the real challenge for so many.  How do you keep your weight losses, and avoid becoming one of the 90+% who gain some, or all, of it back?  Truly, reaching your goals is wonderful, but to prevent relapse and maintain motivation over the long haul requires learning some essential skills.

Recommit to Your Success

For starters, if you are not fully connecting to what you will gain, you will lose motivation.  It's that simple. To avoid the "now what" syndrome of many achievers, create a new goal to deepen your resolve.  Consider improving your time in your favorite 5K or 10K walk/run, or getting to the quarter finals in a tennis tournament.  Every year or so, learn a new sport—rowing, kayaking, in-line skating, basketball, or volleyball.  You always need some goal to shoot for—maybe an annual hiking, bicycling, or backpacking trip.  Or it might be time to explore other lifestyle changes you've been considering.  

Challenge Yourself

The bottom line is you must challenge yourself!  Making progress towards a challenging goal is what keeps you motivated.  Fitness Specialist Clarence Bass says, "Challenge lights the fire.  Progress keeps it burning bright.”  Psychologists say a key to motivation is enjoyment.  But too few recognize that most of the enjoyment comes from the challenge, the striving and the growth, rather than the achievement.  So keep striving—and enjoying!  Be wary of those who tell you to "take it easy."  Don't ever stop trying to improve physically, or mentally, or spiritually.  Challenge yourself.

Staying Focused

It's easy to get bored with the same old thing, so freshen up your exercise routine to avoid getting in a rut.  Think of ways you can add a little flare to your workout:

  • Try new activities or sports, change set or rep patterns with weights

  • Vary your bicycling or walking route, try a new technique like intervals

  • Change the music you listen to

  • Buy new workout clothes

  • Exercise at different times of the day, etc.

A Slip is Just a Slip

Even the most committed individuals have times when they falter.  Don't fret if you get off track for a day.  In fact, if done infrequently it can even be healthy.  One missed workout, or a holiday dinner can't set you back.  The time to be concerned is when a missed workout turns into 1 or 2 weeks of no exercise!  Or when a holiday dinner or party turns into a whole season of treat nibbling!

Don't Worry:

  • If you sleep through your morning workout, or worked late and skipped the gym

  • If you’re just too tired today

  • If you ate too much at the party last night, or too often on your vacation

Cause for Concern:

  • You no longer work out in the morning (or any other time), or have excuses every day

  • You don't go to the gym for a week

  • Your frequently eating high fat foods (chips, fast foods, fried) or high sugar foods (desserts, pastries, soda, candy)

The key is not to let a slip turn into a slide.  Remember, our fast food culture is against you.  Stay focused on your reasons for staying in good shape.  Reread your goals. Review how much progress you've made and how good it feels.  To prepare for the inevitable slips though, list those situations that are troubling for you, and tempt you to quit exercising and eating right.  Also, include ideas you can use to overcome or get back on track.

And in This Corner...

Never underestimate the power of a good support system of friends and family.  Seek someone to be in your corner—a nonjudgmental, positive-minded believer in you.  Someone working toward similar goals can provide great support, too.  Sometimes family members don't always know the best way to help you, so don't be afraid to tell them what things can help.  And a fitness coach or personal trainer is always a great support, for new workout ideas, accountability and helping you expand your horizons and stay challenged.  Keep growing!

Submitted by: Thomas Morrison, Fitness Coordinator, Bradley Wellness Center