I have spent many years getting to know people who are both "successful" and "unsuccessful" with their fitness goals. First, I should explain what "successful" means in this context. Successful means that you have overcome a barrier, made changes in your life to accommodate regular fitness training and healthy eating, achieved some xyz goal, AND these changes have become your new normal - a permanent change to how you do life. I am NOT implying that there are people out there that never miss a workout, never eat chocolate, never gain weight and never fall off the wagon. Those people don't exist. But, a "successful" person will always come back to their "healthy normal," like it is their equilibrium.
With that said, I will stop using quotation marks.
From this experience, I have come up with 5 major things a successful person has done to achieve their success....
1. Positive Reinforcement - this is a big one. I am constantly reminding my clients to stop focusing on what they didn't do, how they screwed up with their nutrition goals, and how they have been "bad." If you are constantly focusing on negative things, your fitness and health will never be a source of positive reward for you. Now answer me this: do you keep doing something that has a positive reward and makes you feel good, or are you more likely to do something that makes you feel bad and has a punishment attached to it? If healthy eating and fitness are something you use to punish yourself, or you are constantly telling yourself that you've failed again - you will never have long term success! People that are successful, have gotten there because they enjoy what fitness does for their body, they like the way healthy food fuels them, they love to feel strong and they leave room in their life for meals that aren't perfect and rest days that are purposeful and important for building muscle.
2. Love what you do - this is similar to the first, in that it has to do with being positive, and maybe it's obvious, but I have met many people that "hate" working out. They "hate" going to the gym. They "hate" yoga. They "hate" the treadmill. If that's the case, then what do you LOVE? You have to love what you do for fitness or it will never be long term. Disclaimer - when you're out of shape, working out is going to be HARD. So, if that's what you mean by "hate," then your opinion will change as it gets easier. Promise. But, if you really dislike lifting weights or walking on the treadmill forever, then, if you want to be successful, you have to find some mode of exercise that you love. Join a running group, take classes, work with a trainer ;).
3. Have goals and a plan - this is one that the majority of people get hung up on. You might have a goal, that's usually the easy part, but knowing how to achieve that goal is a bit tricky. Although I can totally plug training here, as that is my job as a trainer - to make a plan for you - I will give you a tool you can use to be more purposeful about setting goals, which will then help you make a plan. I like to use the word SMART. S = specific Your goals can't be vague. M = measurable How are you going to measure your progress? A = achievable Set goals that are going to challenge you, but that you're confident you can achieve. R = relevant Set a goal that is relevant to YOUR life, not your friend's life. Don't set a goal that someone else is pressuring you to do or because your friend is working on that goal. T = time sensitive What is the time frame in which these goals should be achieved? Then, I like to add to that "process-centered" goals, which means mini goals that will help you achieve the bigger goals. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, then a process-centered goal would be eating 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and/or drinking at least 80 oz of water every day.
4. Get rid of barriers - or find a way around - an important step to achieving your goals is figuring out what the barriers are to your success and either getting rid of them or finding a way around them. Here is a list of a few of the many barriers: demanding work schedule, unsupportive spouse or friends, kids that need your time and attention, sickness, lack of motivation, don't have gym membership or the gym is to inconvenient/uncomfortable etc., injury. There are many more, but I'm sure at least one of those rang a bell with you - or several! These are big things that really do make prioritizing fitness challenging. But, I promise that you CAN find a way to pursue your health. Some of them need to be removed, some need to be changed and some you can get around, but all can be overcome.
5. Don't stop - what do you do when you've achieved your SMART goals? Set new ones. There always needs to be a reason to keep going. More than likely, by the time you've achieved your initial goals, fitness and healthy eating will already be a habit. That's an amazing place to be! You should be very proud of yourself for getting there. But, you shouldn't let that be your reason for letting go. Set new SMART goals that will challenge you again. You've got to keep it fresh and keep enjoying what you do in order for it be a life change.
I really hope that these have helped you to either be encourage that you're on the right track, or maybe revealed some things about why you haven't been able to achieve your goals. If you are feeling overwhelmed or really need some more guidance in setting goals, or making a plan, or if you feel lost about where and how to start - set up an appointment with a trainer today! Don't let another year go by of feeling like you'll never get to where you want to be. Take steps today!