Finishing Can be HardHopefully, through the months of January and February, you’ve not only started making a few life changes, but it is possible you’re starting to see some progress as well. And, right now, you are working under the adrenaline and excitement of something new and shiny. We all love new and shiny!
But the big question? How do you finish? What happens when you wake up one morning, and for the one thousandth time you tie your shoes and go for that run first thing? You’ve seen the scenery before, you’ve done this before. In fact, it is getting harder and harder to get out of bed. Or, you have consistently lost about a pound a week and those pants are getting really loose. But then you have a two week stretch where you gain weight. Henry David Thoreau! You stare at the scale, wondering if all the work was worth it.
How do you keep yourself going when everything in you is ready to quit?
First, I want to talk about willpower. That part of our soul that gets us to do what we need to do, even if we don’t want to do it. Official definition:
: the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult (such as to lose weight or quit smoking)
And no matter what you may believe about it, studies have shown that doing many tasks that require self-control will deplete your willpower. You will become more and more likely to give into temptation. So, with limited willpower to actually accomplish your fitness and nutrition goals, how do you actually do it?
This comes down to smart choices, in my opinion. There has been many a time that I have given in to half a cookie at work, so that I could have the willpower to workout later that day. Is this something I do all the time? No. But, I have to weigh how a decision will affect my other decisions later on. It is also why I don’t like diets as the answer to weight loss. Simply put, it is a plan that relies on an infinite amount of something that you have in limited supply, willpower. There is no way you will keep it up indefinitely, which means at some point, you will fail. Check out this awesome video from TED Talks:
Motivation vs. Inspiration
(And how to make them both work for you)
I know, I know. That sounds like the title of a cheesy, self-help novel. But, there is a difference between the two, even if both can help you keep going.
Motivation: This can be anything from a picture, a song, a quote. Anything that motivates you to keep going. If you want to lose 50 lbs, a picture of someone 50 lbs slimmer than you might help motivate you to keep going when you hit a plateau. Need to get out of bed every morning? Maybe you ask a close friend that’s up then anyways to call you to make sure you’re up. A friend of mine has to pay her buddy $1 every time she doesn’t work out. Financial loss is always a strong motivator.
Inspiration: Usually, I find my inspiration amongst people I know or average people I read about that do amazing things. Whether it’s a friend that has lost weight, or another that is getting in shape for the first time in their lives, it can inspire me to realize that I can do it, too. And while it can be tempting to look up to your favorite celebs, realize that the time, money, and clout they can throw around may not be realistic for you. If you don’t have $2000 to drop on a personal trainer to come to your house and make you exercise, reading how the Kardashian’s lost all their baby weight in 3 weeks may inspire and then defeat you when you can’t do the same.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Finally, realize that you can’t be perfect 24/7. In fact, that kind of expectation will set you up for failure the first time you lose willpower or skip a workout. Stuff happens. All. The. Time.
So, I think this is the last crucial bit to keep in mind as you work towards your health goals. You have to give yourself a break. Make sure your goal is also reasonable. Surprise! You cannot lose 100 lbs in 4 weeks. And expecting that is a setup for failure. Leave room in your plan for mistakes, because they will happen. And when they do, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going.
What is something that motivates you? Who is someone that inspires you? Leave a comment with your answers!