It’s week 5 postpartum for me and week 2 of the New Year. Many of you set out to accomplish new goals at this time of year. I happen to be on that bus this go ’round because the timing worked out just right that I’d be shedding some “extras” after having my 4th little.
New Year’s Resolutions are a bit of a joke. (Remember, I promised that I would be honest always in this blog series, totally “naked” about how I’m feeling personally, but also with my opinions. So here comes some honesty you may not like.) Everyone gets all excited to “accomplish, dream, reach goals, change the world!” and the marketing world capitalizes on your vulnerability and enthusiasm. Remember that I’ve worked in a gym for 16 years and have been in, around and on the other side of the fitness industry. I have watched hundreds, if not thousands, of those vulnerable yet enthusiastic faces waltz into the gym, run for their life on the treadmill then nearly die and/or pass out in the locker room. I learn their name, share some small talk and look for their face again in a few weeks. Gone. What happened to their enthusiasm and excitement for life? It died right along with them when they got off of the treadmill.
Well, now, isn’t this an encouraging post? Hang on, let me get to it.
I’m going to tell you that for the average person, it is not about New Years Resolutions, fast fix diets, or extreme workouts. What is it then?
1. Know your “WHY”:
Why the heck do you want to get in shape and conquer the world anyway? Your reason needs to be a whole lot more than “because I want to look good or fit into my skinny pants.” Why? Because, when you start losing weight or making progress, you might be tempted to slide from your commitment to “health”. Or, when it gets hard, you might allow yourself to say “forget it…I’ll just wear my fat pants”…until you hate how you feel again a month later. Find reasons. I am guilty of having this be a top reason, but it’s changed for me. Health does not equal my skinny pants.
2. Don’t forget the letters between A and Z:
If you are at point “A” and you want to get to point “Z”, don’t forget that there are 24 other letters (or steps) in between! Focus on one small step at a time. What’s your rush? You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and if your goal is to be healthy, then remember it’s a journey. You may find something that accelerates each step or helps you to hop from A to M, but those kinds of “accelerators” RARELY keep you moving forward. They are usually followed by a slide back a few letters (or all the way back to “A”).
3. Celebrate every small accomplishment and step you’ve made:
Don’t hold out for an “end result”. That “end result” may be redefined as you go anyway. Celebrate every accomplishment, everything you overcome, every good choice you make and every habit you break NO MATTER HOW SMALL! Oh, and maybe we shouldn’t celebrate with food eh?
4. Keep it in front of you:
Because if it gets behind you, how will you “see” what needs to happen next? How will you “aim” if you can’t see it in front of you? It is super easy to forget something behind your back.
How do I personally do this? My bachelor’s is in elementary education so I’m a little cheesy and really themey! I believe that adults respond to sticker charts as well as kids do! I believe that small rewards are as motivating to my kids as they are to me. What motivates us may change a LITTLE as we grow older. We learn to appreciate intrinsic rewards, but let’s get real, we all like an extrinsic reward every now and again…especially when we’ve been working so hard!
Check this out.
I put post-it note strips on my wall. There are 21 of them in this picture representing a 3 week length of time to build a habit. You could put as many as you want. I have them numbered and then, along the way, I’ve listed some small, celebratory, extrinsic rewards (none of which are foods or “cheat” foods…I don’t believe in “cheats” but I do eat dessert…that’s a whole other post). Here’s how it works:
1. Make a short term goal. My short term goal is to stick with my weekly/daily plans (like I shared in my last post) and my weekly goals. This week, I made an exercise plan, a meal plan, as well as a few little goals like “drink 2 big bottles of water everyday”. I’ve been doing this awhile so this might be too much for you to keep track of. I recommend making it more simple like “For 21 days, I will log my food” or “In the next 30 days, I will workout 15 times”—so you’d have 15 strips to peel off which is 1 for every workout.
2. Decide on some extrinsic celebration rewards and place them on every few strips. (You can see mine in the pic.) I also listed a TON of other ideas on the picture if you need some ideas.
3. For everyday you follow through, peel off a sticker. When you get to a reward, then celebrate! Don’t allow yourself to focus on what you DIDN’T do, focus on what you DID DO and CELEBRATE IT! Remember, you are tackling one letter at a time, one step at a time. Don’t expect end result behaviors when you are just beginning!
I’m telling you, if you stay motivated by keeping your “WHY” in front of you, by making small, reachable goals often AND if you celebrate every little goal reached…you will end up losing weight, getting fit, eating healthier, and being happier because you are creating a LIFESTYLE of HEALTH (for the right reasons).
BIG IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE:
Fight the fat talk along the way and don’t let Negative Nancy or Negative Narwald hang out in your head. I have committed to do this because it doesn’t get me anywhere and if anything, it holds me back. You and I have too much awesomeness out in front of us for Nancy and Narwald to hold us back.