As a fitness instructor and an employee of the fitness and health industry for the last six years, I have seen first hand the excitement and pure, fire-in-the-eyes motivation that walks in the gym doors every January. Memberships boom, fitness consultations book up like crazy, and even my 5am, "any-normal-person-should-be-sleeping-right-now" cycling class participation swells with the onslaught of tough individuals determined to make this "the year". Around the gym, you can hear discussion of "paleo versus whole 30", "multivitamins and fish oil", PR's and Nike and class schedules and running partners and motivation groups. And it is this time of year that makes me feel so incredibly fortunate to work in the supplement and fitness industry, helping people reach goals and see progress and become whatever version of themselves they want to be. It's awesome.
But come March 1st, it seems the fire that once burned so fiercely in the minds of so many of us is extinguished. The gym starts to clear out, the class numbers dwindle, and by mid-March all the New Year's excitement has vacated and we are left making excuses why we need to lose that extra hour of sleep to watch Game of Thrones, skip kickboxing class again because the house is dirty, or order takeout for the third time this week because we "just don't feel like cooking tonight". What happened to those New Year's resolutions we were so driven to achieve? Have we lost motivation, or have they just fallen from the small privileged list of priorities that we keep in our minds? Trust me, I am right there with you--I can probably count on one hand the number of years I have actually, fully, accomplished any of my New Year's goals that year. So I ask the question for me and for everyone else still wondering: where did the fire go, and how can we light it again?
Here is a list of ways you can stay motivated to keep those New Year's resolutions in 2018.
1. When making your New Year's resolutions this year, make sure you set realistic goals.
As unfortunate as it is, expecting to lose 60 lbs by April on the Krispy Kreme diet may not be the best way to start 2018 goal-setting off on the right foot (wishful thinking though, am I right?!). It's okay to aim high--you always want to aim to give it your best--but aiming too high and failing could be detrimental to your motivation. On the other hand, setting smaller goals and overachieving them could give you the encouragement you need to keep going.
2. Come up with a strategy, and write it down.
There is something about letting a thought or concept in your head flow down, through your pen, out onto a piece of paper where you can physically visualize your goals, and the way you want to achieve them. Not only does writing them down actually create evidence of your goals (nothing says "get to the gym" like a piece of paper with your fitness goals in bold letters tacked to your refrigerator), but scientifically, that action of writing down your plan actually helps you remember it better.
3. Be specific, and shoot for the small stuff.
Saying "I want to read three books every month for the year of 2018" is awesome. No really, it is. But why haven't you done it yet? If it is a goal you have not yet accomplished, chances are there is a obstacle that stands in your way. Identify that obstacle (maybe you don't have time), problem-solve it ("I am going to cut out thirty minutes of screen time each night to read"), and tackle it head on. If you are focused on taking one month at a time, you will see many more small successes--and you will spend less time wondering why reading 36 books this year seems so far away.
4. Track your progress.
For me, I am a to-do list kind of girl. In fact, if I do not physically write things down, or set reminders on my phone, I am thoroughly convinced that none of my bills would get paid, work projects wouldn't get completed, and heck, I'd probably even starve to death from forgetting to buy groceries (that's honestly not far from the truth...). However it suits you--whether you like bar graphs, motivation spreadsheets, food journals, or pie charts, keep track of everything related to your goals--both good and bad. And be honest about it. That way, later on down the road, you can look back and know what worked for you, and what didn't.
5. Find Accountability
Telling someone about your plan can make all the difference in the world to sticking to it. That doesn't mean you have to tell them every little detail ("On Saturday, I am going to eat three hardboiled eggs, drink 64 ounces of water, do an upperbody/lowerbody muscle-building split, spend 33 minutes doing HIIT cardio on the treadmill..."), but have someone keep you accountable. Tell them what your big goal is, and then make sure to them what your little stepping stones along the way are. Ask that person to ask you daily or weekly how you are progressing. But, don't let that person become your inspiration. Remember that these are your resolutions--not theirs--and the only person who can truly motivate you to succeed is yourself.
6. Reward yourself for reaching your goal, and reward yourself along the way.
Let's be real: it doesn't matter how much we want to accomplish our goal of being able to run three miles, a little bit extra "motivation" beyond what our mind can produce never hurts...
Set aside some money, a splurge treat, or maybe even a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant as the end goal. And then, for all the little milestones you accomplish along the way (like maybe being able to run one mile without stopping, of the three you eventually want to run), reward yourself in a small way for that too.
7. Plan Ahead.
If your New Year's resolution has anything to do with food, this one may especially apply to you. Picture this: Your goal is to lose 10lbs. You plan to hit the gym three days a week, drink 64 ounces of water a day, and only eat whole, home-cooked foods. Week one goes great, you meal prepped every lunch and dinner, packed your water bottle, and made sure you had your gym clothes in the car so that you can leave straight from work. Easy. But then week two hits, and it comes jam-packed with meetings, soccer practices, deadlines, doctor appointments, and maybe even sick kids. Some of those things you knew in advance, some just kind of hit you. What happens if you don't meal prep (or, I am guilty of thinking "I'll just do it in the early morning for that day, it'll be fine..."), leave your water bottle at home, and get in a hurry on your way to work and leave your gym bag behind? Suddenly, that resolution that you made gets pushed behind a busy schedule. Plan ahead for your week, and make your resolution a priority (I like to think of it as setting a date with yourself).
8. If you mess up, Don't Sweat it.
Mess ups happen, it's a part of life. We are all human, and sometimes we consciously choose to eat that carton of fries, drink that extra glass of wine, buy that pair of shoes when we should be saving, or stay out that extra two hours instead of getting the full eight hours of sleep you planned. IT IS OKAY. But you know what isn't okay? Letting one mistake destroy your motivation. Plan for setbacks--they will happen--and when you do screw up, choose to power through right from the moment after.
9. And most importantly... remember why you are doing it.
Something drove you to make this New Year's resolution. Something motivated you so fiercely that you decided to make all of 2018 committed to changing that one thing. And even when it gets hard to keep going, dwell on that. Remember that feeling that you had when you decided you were done and ready to change. And then hold onto it... use it to feed your fire of motivation.