In my experience with personal training, the greatest struggle I see is one main problem with achieving success. Finding the right fitness and nutrional guidance is vital, and so is creating the right tool box to help you along the way. But if you want to make a descision (lose weight, gain muscle, general fitness, eat healthier) and truly stick with it, there are some easy behavioral tricks to follow that will majorly increase the chances you'll stick with the original plan.
Seems simple? It is. Making lists helps you visually create a task-based map that leads to the buried treasure: success. Start with your goal, and then break it down into several reasonable components. These components can then be broken into further tasks. Here's an example:
Goal: Lose 10 Pounds
- Improve Nutrition
- Buy more fruits and vegetables
- Throw out all processed or high calorie foods with minimal nutrition, keeping 1 or 2 as reward
- Get a reliable multivitamin and related supplements (fish oil, antioxidants)
- Drink water with meals and eat slowly.
- Pack lunches for work/school.
- Move More to Expend More Calories & Improve Fitness
- Start moving for 5 minutes a day (if easier, increase time)
- Seek out more exercises to use, and make a workout out of them
- Find an enjoyable, active activity to engage in at least twice a week
- Find a workout partner or accountability partner
- Focus on standing/walking as much as possible
Making lists can be something to roll your eyes at, especially with its simplicity. But it works. Mapping out and writing down what needs to be done is psychologically soothing compared to saying, "It's too hard" and never getting much of anything done. Be sure to rank your tasks in order of importance. In the previous example, the bottom line is eat less and move more. You can use this strategy for work, school and projects, not just fitness goals.
2. Assess and Reassess
Before you start your goal, know where you are. Every step along the way, keep checking progress instead of blindly hoping something is working. I have seen many people give up on working out because they expected to lose weight by doing the same treadmill workout 3 times per week. When it didn't work, they never assessed the intensity or type of their workouts, or looked at what role their nutrition might be playing. When have a clear idea of where you are, it's much easier to know where you need to go.
This includes motivation. Many will start a goal with a fiery passion, and that passion goes somewhere else. Retain that spirit. It may sound silly, but literally and verbally tell yourself what you want and what you need to do and get EXCITED. You CAN summon motivation out of nowhere, it all goes back to just thinking you can't (see any pattern?). Using the weight loss example, check your weight and recheck weekly. How do you feel? How do you look? Not seeing results? Try adjusting you diet or increase workout length or intensity. Don't make your goals static, change them as often as you change as a person.
3. Keep Learning
Keep seeking out help so that you will surely never fail. If you insist on learning about your goal and putting the efforts into the universe, the universe will respond with unrelenting opportuniy. For this step, you have to really want your goal. If you never give up on yourself, you're bound to find endless assistance that will never want to give up on you. Learn from specialized professionals, books, blogs, videos, documentaries...everything helps, even the incorrect information.
Try these tips and always tell yourself you will "quit tomorrow." Whatever behavior you insist on keeping today is that much more likely to live on. But using lists, assessments, and continued learning is guaranteed to get you closer to your goal than complaining about how hard it will be or being stunned when you're not getting any closer.