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Finding That Light At The End Of The Tunnel

When starting a new workout regime, diet plan, or any goal we set out for ourselves we as human beings we all struggle huge aspect, motivation. I know as well as you that setting a goal or starting a new regime to better ourselves is often easier than expected, it’s exciting! But what we often overlook is how to maintain this excitement throughout our journey to reach this goal.

“Shane, how do I stay motivated!?”, is a question often asked by clients, friends, family once they have embarked on the journey to reach their goal. This heavy question shows its ugly face anywhere from one week, three months, or one year. There is no proven time it arrives, oh but trust me, I know just as well as you, it will.

I have experienced the excitement of engaging in a new routine to further better myself, only to eventually find myself struggling with the idea of staying on this path. Truth be told, I have been successful and I have also failed. The great thing however about failing is that after the feeling of disappointment and frustration, is that you often learn something from that failure. Along the way of the many journeys of emotional peaks and valleys that is staying motivated I have stated some tips and tricks I have picked up that have worked and proven to be successful in helping me maintain motivation to stay on the rough path that is reaching my goal.

1. Make IT PERSONAL
What is it you really want? No I mean REALLY want. Is it the food, or is it the goal? Often attaching some personal relevance to our goals gives it purpose, and more meaningful.

2. MAKE IT SPECIFIC. MAKE IT MEASUREABLE.
You want to lose weight, great! How much? You want to get stronger, fantastic! In what way? When we set goals we often set them vague and generalized. We don’t want to do this. You want to be specific. Saying you want to lose weight is great, but saying you want to lose 20 pounds gives you a number to hit – something to strive for. Having an actual measureable goal, lets you keep progress on it (doing 2 more push ups every week – getting closer to that 20 consecutive push up goal), keeps you focused on what you are trying to achieve, and also seeing yourself getting closer to this goal is exciting and self motivating in itself.

3. BREAK IT DOWN.
Long Term vs. Short Term. You want to set out a basic outline of what you want to achieve. For instance, if you want to lose 100 lbs. over the next year – that can be a daunting challenge. So much like many challenges in life, I like to break it down. Don’t focus on the main end goal itself. Focus on small increments on how you are to get there. “Check stops” if you will. So every week you decide you will lose 1 to 2 pounds every week. This puts you at about 8 pounds a month, which puts you at about 95-100lbs for the year. Setting short-term goals that are on the way to your end goal makes the challenge not so daunting or “far away”.

4. DO NOT BE A PERFECTIONIST.
90% STRICT 10% LEANENT. When it comes down to it, stop striving for perfection. Its not maintainable, realistic and more often than not unattainable. If you miss a workout, it’s not the end of the world. If you eat some pizza, ice cream or what have you - enjoy it, and move on. Do not stress about it. Life should be about moderation. Give yourself a break. You eat well majority of the time, active regularly and lead a busy life with social and professional events.

You cannot be 100%, 100% of the time. Strive for 90%, 100% of the time.

5. PICK AN IDOL.
Read their bio. Sounds kind of funny, but picking someone you look up to – doesn’t matter who it is, read how they got where they are, what were their successes, struggles, failures, and lessons learned. Chances are they have had some of the same mental and physical barriers you have, and you could very well pick up some tips/tricks that relate to you and your situation.

6. MAKE IT PUBLIC.
This can be terrifying. But posting or mentioning to someone your new goal is setting you up for more accountability. You will have more support. You never know who is also struggling with staying towards their goals or who is having the same issue as you. You can build a support system with people who have the same goals as you.

7. WRITE IT DOWN.
Simple and effective. Write down the goal you have for yourself and post it where you often frequent and some places that are more “random” and “odd”. For me, in the past I have placed a post-it on the fridge, by the bathroom mirror, in the bedroom by the door. As of late, I currently have a ”reminder” set in my iPhone that goes off and now and then. This helps remind you of your goals, not how far you have to go, but how far you have come. It’s a little self check-in to help remind you of why you are embarking on this goal.

8. KEEP A JOURNAL FOR TRACKING.
Marking your progress down regularly keeps you on track because you can see what you last weighed, lifted, reps, sets, minutes were. It keeps you pushing to be better than you were last week. It lets you know if you are on track – or if you are off track. When counting calories this becomes huge when hitting caloric deficits for weight loss or surpluses for weight gain. Its hard to know how much you REALLY are taken in. Also, seeing yourself getting stronger, lighter, faster, what have you lets you give yourself a little mental tip of the hat to you, pushing you forward.

9. TAKE A SECOND. THINK ABOUT IT.
“Do I really want this?” is usually a question I asked for myself. If I find myself struggling to get into a workout or diving into a bag of chocolate almonds, I take 10 seconds think to myself, “do I really do want this?” It sounds silly maybe, but it works. It takes out the impromptu reaction to just grab that bag of chips or go home right after work and skip the workout. Actually stopping to revaluate the goal I found works surprisingly well.

SHANE KOKAS, CSEP-CPT, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CES
skokas@hotmail.com

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