Okay, you’ve made the resolution to take charge of your health and taken those important first steps toward reaching your goal. But as you’ve likely discovered by now… the road to success is sometimes (make that almost always) a bumpy one. How can you bypass the common motivation obstacles (Do these rationalizations sound familiar: What’s one cookie?; I’ll workout when this project is done.) and make it to the finish line? Follow our lead by using these simple—and realistic—tips to stay on course.
Go from gung-ho to ho-hum. Many people start out with grand intentions but quickly lose the stamina to keep working toward a lofty goal. (Ever notice how crowded the gym is in January, and how the herd thins out by the middle of March?) To help you overcome that diminishing energy, it’s a good idea to set smaller, reachable goals that you’re more likely to hit. Instead of promising yourself, “I’ll get up every morning for that 6 a.m. boot camp class,” start with something more achievable: “I’ll exercise at least three times this week.”
Accept your failures. So you blew it and reverted back to your old habits. Don’t head for the covers—and don’t give up entirely. Reaching your ultimate target is a series of many steps, not an all-or-nothing proposition. Instead of saying, “I ate one cookie, I might as well eat the whole box,” try to tell yourself, “Everyone deserves a treat now and then, but I’m still going to stick with my plan to eat healthier.” Then take in a few deep breaths, forget your transgression, and get right back on track.
Keep it small. Back when you set your health goal it seemed totally within reach, but now your schedule has gone haywire—and your intention to work out is moving farther and farther down your growing to-do list. If things are crazy-busy, accept this temporary reality for what it is—temporary—and look for opportunities to fit small, short bursts of exercise into your day. Taking the stairs, stretching at your desk, or going for a quick walk to clear your thoughts are far better than doing nothing. In fact, consistent, frequent intervals of movement will be more effective than planning for a big weekend workout and not being able to follow through when time gets crunched.
Team up. Making a change for the better can sometimes be a lonely proposition. If you’re feeling isolated, try the buddy system. Ask a friend to join you in activities like planning and prepping healthy meals, or heading out for long walks or fun workout classes. Knowing you have someone who’s counting on you to participate can help you stick to your plan and hit your goal.
Fight off cravings. It can be hard to deal with those 3 p.m. “I need a candy bar, now!” feelings, so remember that your goal of eating healthier will be easier if you can avoid temptation. Keep good-for-you snacks on hand (like almonds and fruit) and remember to fill your lunch plate with nutritious, satisfying foods, like fiber-rich veggies, lean protein and whole grains, to help stave off afternoon sugar cravings.