About this time every year, the crowds at the gym start to thin out. No matter how determined you may have been on January 1st, if you’re like many others out there, your resolution no longer holds quite the same appeal. Maybe this change of heart is because you aren’t seeing the results you thought you would? If so, we’re here to tell you not to give up!
In today’s social-media-driven world, it can be easy to set your expectations too high. You see these crazy before-and-after transformations and expect the same results for yourself. This is easy because you relate to the before and want to look like the after, but the truth is, the goal to look like someone else is unrealistic. Your progress must be measured by your milestones, not anyone else’s.
Let’s talk about these milestones. Setting smaller goals within your larger goal will help you track your progress. They will also give you something to work towards, which will keep you motivated. Now, don’t confuse motivation with enthusiasm. Motivation is the reason you have for acting or behaving in a particular way; enthusiasm is simply your energy or eagerness to do something. Our cofounder, James Grage, explains the difference with a short story about wife:
“My wife is originally from a small town in Northern Canada, where winter temperatures can drop as low as -70 degrees C. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to never leave your house, let alone wake up to exercise at 3 a.m.
Still, every morning my wife would wake up, scrape the ice off her car, and shovel snow off the driveway just so she could squeeze in an hour of cardio before work. In the evenings, she’d come home, put on her parka and boots, and head to the gym again—this time for weight training.
My wife’s determination and enthusiasm were impressive, so I had to ask her: ‘What’s the key to staying motivated?’ Her answer was exactly what I suspected. Day to day, depending on how exhausted she was, or how bad the blizzard was, her levels of enthusiasm would fluctuate. Some days it would be higher than others. The key here is that motivation, not enthusiasm, got my wife to the gym.
She wasn’t enthusiastic about packing on multiple layers to brave the cold and hit the gym, but she was motivated. She was training for a purpose. She had a specific goal with a specific deadline. Her specificity was essential to her success.
At the time, my wife was competing in fitness competitions, which required her to be in peak shape. If you only have 12 weeks to prepare, then every single day counts. Her motivation to never skip a workout stemmed from that. Would she have put in that same effort if her goals weren’t as specific, or if she was driven only by enthusiasm? Not a chance. She might have worked out occasionally, but not with the same consistency.”
This may be an extreme example, but James’ story illustrates a clear point: if you aren’t motivated by a specific goal with a set deadline, you are not as likely to be successful. What is your overall goal? When is your deadline?
Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day, when the pools open. If you started on January 1, you have almost 5 months to the day to accomplish your goal. But how can you be sure you’re actually making progress? First, take pictures every week. You won’t really be able to see the change your body is going through unless you document it. Plus, being able to look back and see how far you’ve come will make you proud!
Second, make smaller, more attainable weekly goals to keep you motivated in the short term. In the example of losing 20 pounds by Memorial Day, you can break the goal up by month and by week. With 5 months to accomplish your goal, you should be losing 4 pounds per month. That breaks down into 1 pound per week. Now how much more manageable does that sound?!
As we said earlier, these milestones will give you undeniable proof that you ARE making progress. They also provide a weekly excuse to celebrate! Set up a routine that ends with a reward. For example, weighing in every Friday. If you’ve lost the 1 pound you were aiming for, reward yourself! This act of treating yourself is bigger than a new pair of jeans or concert tickets. Treating yourself creates a positive association with your goals, recharges your batteries and makes you eager to achieve your next major triumph. Just make sure that your “treat” is a healthy reward that complements your end goal.
Most importantly, remember why you started in the first place. Although you are working towards a specific goal, fitness really is about the journey. Once you reach your goal, will you quit? No. You’ll set a new goal and continue to improve. Fitness is your chance to change your life for the better, and become the best version of yourself. So don’t give up! Results don’t happen overnight and the path to success is not an easy one. But if you set your mind to it, you can do it, and we’ll be right here cheering you on along the way.