Welcome to mid-February where Valentine’s Day becomes a perfect pretext to fall off the healthy eating and exercising wagon. In fact, by this time each year the majority of the “New-Years resolution crowd” have already given up on everything health-related that they set out to accomplish in the New Year. But why?
Often a person likes the idea of accomplishing a big goal, such as radically transforming their lives and getting in shape, resulting in an improved quality of life through exercise and nutrition, but lacks the long-term commitment and strategies required to make the transformation. It’s significantly more convenient to put in a little effort for a short while, then conveniently quit on their goal and blame the holidays, or any one of a number of excuses to justify for their inability to stay true to the original goal. Does this sound familiar?
So why is it so difficult to make a commitment, formulate a winning strategy and simply follow through? It’s often related to conflicting habits and scenarios that effectively sabotage the goal and derail progress.
Here are some examples of doomed, ineffective or conflicting habits and scenarios that often “crash” a fitness goal:
Wanting to get in shape, but choosing not to cut out unhealthy processed and sugar-based foods from the diet
Wanting to get fit but not making time for exercise
Buying expensive workout equipment that sits in the basement or garage gathering dust
Buying a gym membership but never using it
Training only low to medium intensity cardio in group classes and not undertaking more strenuous resistance-based exercise
Over-eating when the goal is to reduce unwanted bodyweight
Sitting, talking and wishing rather than standing and doing
Skipping workouts at the first opportunity
Not doing fitness homework and setting reasonable fitness goals to work towards
Judging the effectiveness of training by the numbers on the scales
Choosing a training partner who is less fit and or less knowledgeable about fitness than yourself
Thinking that a personal trainer will do the work for you
So what can be done to avoid these and other “doomed to failure” scenarios?
Start by forgiving yourself for anything you failed to do and forget the past! Wipe the slate clean and begin planning for success this time around. NOW is the ideal time to get prepared for success, making this year your most successful year ever! You can do it!
Yes, it sounds like a cliché, and it is; but clichés aren’t always bad and they exist for a reason!
So what does "planning for success" entail?
It's about having the right support, knowledge, skills, and the right tools. Some people attempt to search for these on their own, and some are successful; but many find themselves throwing in the towel too early and moving on to yet another never to be accomplished goal or project.
Problem with this is that it creates a scattered and sloppy life-path which typically leads nowhere. Or worse, it leads to depression through low self-image, self-worth and a sense of hopelessness. The result: Always being at Square One (and I don’t mean the shopping mall in Toronto) 365 days a year.
I get asked these questions and receive these comments a lot:
“Marta, what is the fastest way to get fit?”
“Marta, how long will it take to get in shape?”
“Marta, I hate my body, but I don’t want to exercise or change my diet. How do I get in shape?”
“Marta, I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to change my lifestyle, so what do I have to do?”
"Marta, is there a pill I can take?"
Do you see the conflicting interests in the questions above? Here’s the math for those who haven’t already figured it out: Wanting permanent change without making permanent changes equals NO CHANGE! PERIOD! END OF STORY!
So what do I answer when I’m asked questions such as those above?
This: Start by changing just one thing at a time and slowly expand from there!
I know a thing or two about becoming healthier through fitness and nutrition, so I’d like to share this story with you:
A few years ago, someone close to me asked me for tips on losing weight, but she wasn’t willing to exercise or change her eating habits. Normally I would see this as an opportunity to throw a ton of advice and inspiration at someone in order to persuade them to make a permanent and positive change, but this person was a very special person. I knew she would never implement my advice no matter what stellar knowledge or evidence I presented her with. Why? Because she is a creature of success (obviously not health success) and too much change at once would set her up for failure. People, by nature, are adverse to change and most have the incorrect notion that exercise equals pain when it’s exactly the opposite. Anyway, I had to be sensitive and creative with her. I picked up her large empty Coca-Cola bottle (she would drink one on daily basis) and I asked her to stop drinking it and from that day forward fill it up with water and drink one full bottle every single day instead. I knew the water would detox her body and force her to walk to the bathroom 30 feet each way. At ten trips per day, she was adding 600 feet (200m) of walking exercise daily, just to use the toilet. She lost 40 pounds of unwanted body weight that year alone, just by replacing soft drink with water. I have used the same strategy with few family members, former co-workers, friends, and clients, always with great success.
My job as a personal trainer often morphs into that of a friend and mentor, and it’s a very fine line that I am perpetually attempting to walk. All clients come to me with goals, but these goals are often vague, ill-informed or down right unrealistic. Once in a while I come across a client who wants instant gratification but does not take ownership of their inaction when it comes to creating and sustaining healthy behaviours.
They continue to finish their children’s or spouse's meals, to drink alcoholic beverages on daily basis, to skip breakfast, etc. These types of choices conflict with the goal and set the individual up for failure.
Here’s how I operate with my clients: In order to set someone up for fitness success, firstly I identify specific and measurable goals and as many of the limiting factors standing in the way of achieving these goals as possible.
From there, I focus on implementing one healthy and sustainable behaviour at a time. Like my water strategy, I help setup behavioural goals in order to develop lasting healthy habits that have a positive impact. I have many tools in my toolkit to help fast track health and fitness success, but the hard work can only be done by the person seeking health and fitness success for themselves.
I want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed, so it’s time to stop sabotaging your self-improvement goals and recommit to achieving them.
Believe in yourself and your ability to achieve the success you so rightly deserve
Know what it is you want and why you want it so badly
Formulate a realistic winning strategy
Take action, and be consistent with your action every single day taking one baby-step after another
Every step in the right direction, no matter how small, is one step closer to achieving your goal for a new, healthier, happier you.