For the majority, people enter the health and fitness world with a goal in mind, whether it be as simple as wanting to clean up some dirty habits or a very specific lose XX pounds by XX date or event. This is great when you get started where motivation is high from your new plan and it is the driving factor behind your efforts. I personally have always been interested in staying healthy but getting engaged really sparked my fire for busting ass in the gym. But what happens when progress slows or plateaus? Motivation usually begins to fade at this point and excuses become much easier to dish out than that 4 oz of chicken for the 5th day in a row; We still want to reach our goals but the finish line is seeming to become further and further away or unattainable. This is usually what my clients begin to experience roughly 6 weeks into our program especially when we start in a reverse dieting phase (more on that in the future).
In a world of quick fixes and instant gratification the time it takes to truly reach your health and fitness goals in a healthy and sustainable manner is much longer than expected for 99.9% of the population **sigh/eye roll/temper tantrum**. We are exposed to fat burners, skinny teas, so-and-so’s amazing 4 week transformation, blah, blah blah. I’ll tell you right now we do not see the behind the scenes and losing 10 pounds in one month is water weight, the result of being in over a 1200 calorie per day deficit, or the result of drugs; so stop right there and stop comparing yourself to others and for the love of God please stop drinking skinny teas (unless you truly enjoy the taste enough to continue shitting your brains out). You could be on the exact same plan as Susan and achieve totally different outcomes. Every BODY is different. Give yourself the time, honesty, patience, and consistency and I assure you, results will follow. Of course this doesn’t help our loss of motivation problem.
So now status-post rant, how do we push forward when motivation goes out the window? Goals are usually all driven by deadlines. Think about it, if your professor gave you every single homework assignment at the start of the year, you more than likely would have put them off. For the few who could stay on top of this and do it along the way, props to you and BRAVO; the rest of us have been truly enjoying our down time leading up to the all-nighters ahead to get all this homework completed. The same goes for health and fitness. We neglect prioritizing our health and making it a lifestyle for an extended period of time until BOOM, we have 20 pounds we want to shed or a vacation we want to tighten up for. Just like you did not gain 20 pounds in a short amount of time, it is going to take you an extended period of time to get it off, 6-12 months depending on how consistent and honest you are with your plan. Now, 6 to 12 months seems like a LONG freaking time when life is full of busy schedules and break rooms full of cookies (or is that just a hospital thing?!).
When the motivation goes out the window it is time to implement SMART goals, and yes for my fellow nurses, I’m talking nursing school SMART goals. One of my favorite quotes by Greg S. Reid, “A dream written down with a date is a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” SMART goals can be applied to any aspect of life and they are definitive and narrow in our focus, putting accountability into play because there will be an end date of achieving the goal or not. Weekly action plans to work towards our dreams. Super easy to do and I would recommend only 1-2 goals per week. If you are my client, I will ask each week if you met your goals or not.
S-Specific–write out clear, concise goals.
“I will workout five times this week for at least thirty minutes.”
“I will meet my carb goal six days this week”
M-Measurable–must be able to track progress. Yes or No; Can be as simple as that.
Did you or did you not workout five times for at least thirty minutes this week?
Did you hit your carb target six days this week?
A-Achievable–must be achievable.
Important to note with health and fitness goals, a SMART goal should never be a scale weight or pant size because we cannot determine the exact time it would take to get there. We need specifics for measurability. Remember, our end goal is likely what our weekly SMART goals add up to in the end. These goals are meant to keep us driven and accountable for our actions on a daily basis.
R-Relevant–do my weekly goals prompt action towards that long term end goal?
Getting your oil changed because you’ve been putting it off is good to do but is not relevant to our end goal of dropping 20 pounds.
R-Realistic–Are these goals something you can ACTUALLY achieve.
With any new diet or lifestyle change, I do not recommend going all-in all at once. Cutting out sugar, soda, alcohol, dairy, and hitting the gym 7 days/week all in the first week is not very realistic and does not develop sustainable behaviors.
Does your schedule even allow for you to get in five workouts a week?
It is your birthday weekend and you have plans for Friday dinner with BAE, Saturday brunch and a night out with the girls; is meeting your carb goal realistic when you know you are going out to eat two days this week?
T-Timely–Target finish time attached.
Mid-week, end of the week, no longer than bi-weekly. The time factor will help keep you accountable and allows for evaluation. If you did not meet your weekly goal, this is when we need to take a deeper look as to why we did or did not meet our goals.
“I did not workout five times this week because I was sick. Feeling better and will try again this week.”
“I did workout five times this week. **pat on the back** I feel great!”
“I ordered pasta for dinner and pancakes for brunch. I enjoyed my birthday celebrations but my goal was not realistic. I will try again this week!”
In the end, motivation WILL come, and it WILL go. We must create a plan for accountability and discipline to continue moving towards our dreams we set for ourselves. I do not wake up at 4 am every morning feeling motivated AF. But at the end of the week I can look back and answer the question, “Did I work out 5 days this week for at least 30 minutes? Yes or No.” Evaluate what went right or wrong and set a new plan for the upcoming week. What will allow you to achieve your end goal regardless of how far away it may seem, is small daily actions that yield big results over time. When that 20 pounds is off, it will not matter if it took you 6 months or 16 months, the time will have passed anyways and you will just be proud you never gave up on yourself and your dreams. Keep on keeping on!
Written By Angie Klicka