For many of us, the stroke of midnight on December 31 st 2016 was a symbolic press of the reset button. We entered the New Year with optimism, seeing it as an opportunity to redirect our lives, placing it on a path that would lead us to happiness and self-fulfillment. For thousands of women, this path included a promise to themselves that they would commit to a healthier lifestyle by incorporating exercise and proper nutrition into their daily regimen.
Many women approach the wellness path from different directions. Some stock up on women’s health magazines in order to get exercise tips. Some, determined to begin cooking more meals at home, hit the cookbook aisle at their local bookstore. Others surf social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook for exercise and nutrition programs. Still others join challenges, such as the Lean Body® Challenge (LBC) that has been held by Labrada® Nutrition for 14 years!
While their approach to the path to fitness may have begun from a different starting point, many woman end up at the same crossroad: how do I stay motivated? As the weeks go by, the reality sets in of how difficult it can be to make the adjustments necessary to excite change and as a result, motivation wanes. As motivation begins to waver, excuses to stray off the path begin. So how do we silence the silly excuses and stay on track? Lee Labrada recently shared some tips for staying motivated with his Facebook LIVE audience. Let’s review some of Lee’s advice and hopefully, if your faith has already begun to waiver, his words of wisdom will help you re-charge and get back on your personal path!
1. SET AN ATTAINABLE GOAL
“I’m going to lose 10 pounds in two weeks!” – “I’m going to start running three miles every day!”– “I’m going to stop eating pizza and drinking beer!” Believe it or not, these are some of the goals I’ve heard my clients make during the portion of our consult where I ask,” So give me one or two nutritional and exercise goals you want to achieve.” While they mean well, what they don’t realize is that these goals are really set-ups for failure. Why? Because they are not attainable in that they aren’t realistic. First, if you ’ re losing weight the right way, then 10 pounds in two weeks is expecting a bit much. If you’ve never run before, then trying to start off with daily three-milers really isn’t wise. If you actually enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer, then cutting yourself off completely from it is eventually going to backfire.
Lee advises, then , that the best way to choose our goals is by making them attainable ! To do this, it may help you to focus on making your goals small, measurable, realistic, and time-sensitive. For example, saying,” I’m going to lose 10 pounds in two weeks!” is really asking a lot of yourself. So instead of placing such a huge mountain in front of you to climb, switch the goal to something more realistic such as,” For the next two weeks, I’m going to begin eating breakfast every morning instead of waiting until lunch to have my first real meal.” In order to make sure you follow through with this goal, you can mark your calendar and give yours elf a gold star for every day you eat breakfast. Imagine that you step on the scale two week later and see that you’ve only lost 4 pounds! Wouldn’t this make you feel defeated? Wouldn’t your” failure” to reach your goal make you strongly consider giving up?
But now imagine seeing a line of gold stars across your calendar. Wouldn’t this give you a sense of power in that you did what you set out to do in the time you set out to do it in? Of course it would! And because you feel empowered and encourage d, you are more apt to continue on your journey to better health!
2. WRITE YOUR GOAL DOWN
Have you ever prepared for a grocery store trip by trying to rem ember the items you need to restock after you complete a careful sweep of your pantry and refrigerator? Then, when you actually get to the supermarket, you go blank and forget everything you needed or at least, you forget to pick up one or two items you had intended to buy? I know I’ve done this and it can be very frustrating. To alleviate any future frustration, I now simply write down the items I need to purchase and bring this with me to the store.
Just as you would write down the items you need from the store to rem ind you of what aisles you need to visit, it is very beneficial to write down your goal as a reminder of what you intend to achieve and in which direction you need to go in order to achieve it. As Lee points out , writing your goal down helps it become more ingrained in your mind. Also, if you place it where you can see it (I like to pl ace my goals on my bathroom mirror, for example), not only does it serve as a constant reminder, it also serves to help emphasize the importance of the goal.
3. TELL FAMILY & FRIENDS ABOUT YOUR GOAL
I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of competitors and I have definitely noticed a trend. Those who come to me with the goal of competing but who haven’t really shared their goal with others tend to be the most difficult to work with. Some begin missing workouts, while others decide it’s ok to treat themselves to something every weekend since they followed their pl an so well during the week. Then, when show day comes, they are disappointed because they don’t look the way they imagined they should or they don’t place as well as they had hoped.
On the other side of the spectrum are my clients who often look and perform exactly as we imagined they would the day of the show. These clients tend to be th e ones who announce their intention to step on stage on a certain date to everyone! Not only do they tell close family and friends, they trumpet their goal over social media. And I think this is great ! Why? Lee points out that once you announce your goals to others, you have just made yourself accountable to them. For example, when I was competing, I was always asked questions such as, “How’s it going?” – “How many more weeks do you have?” – “How’s the diet coming along?” – “Did you already pick out your suit?”
Even though I was already self-motivated, meeting the expectations of others was also a motivating source: I didn’t want to let them down, either. So no matter what your goal is, definitely consider sharing your intentions with others. Not only do you now have someone other than yourself to be accountable to, you have gained a support system that can help you stay on track during the toughest parts of your journey.
4. MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS
Whether it’s a desire to strengthen our relationships, excel at work, or promote our health, nothing is more motivating than to see our hard work paying off. But how do we note progress if we don’t track progress? Lee explains that if you can’t measure it, then you simply can’t stay motivated. For example, if your goal is to lose inches, then how can you really know if what you are doing is working if you aren’t tracking your measurements on a regular basis? If your goal is to make strength gains, then how can you be sure you ’ re making progress if you ’ re not keeping a workout log?
When choosing your goal, then, be sure to pick one that allows you to truly measure your progress over a period of time. If your goal is” weight loss,” I actually never advise yo u use the scale as your guide since weight fluctuates on a day- to -day and even hour- to -hour basis. Rather, rely on photos, measurements, and even the fit of your clothes to determine if what you are doing is working for you. If your goal is to make strength gains, then be sure to start carrying a workout log with you to the gym so you can note your number of sets, reps, and the weight you used.
If your goal is to eat out less, then you can mark on your calendar the days you committed to preparing your food and carrying it with you versus the days you actually went out to eat. No matter what your goal is, the more measurable the results, the more you take strides to actually record your results, and the more you see that your work is being rewarded, the more apt you are to remain motivated!
5. REWARD YOURSELF!
You’ve done it! Not only did you reach the small goal you set for yourself , you reached it within the time frame you set! So what do you do now? You reward yourself, of course! Lee reminds us that it’s very important to treat ourselves whenever we hit a new mile-post. Was your goal to hit the gym at least four times a week for a month straight? Reward yourself with a new gym outfit.
Was your goal to start carrying your food to work so you could reduce your intake of fas t food? Reward yourself with a massage. Was your goal to drop a dress size in eight weeks? Reward yourself by buying a new dress to fit your new figure (and by the way — get rid of the clothes that don’t fit you any more!). While all of these suggestions are great, do keep in mind Lee’s advice:” Remember, the biggest reward is the result.”
It can be difficult to stay motivated when you take on a new challenge. You learn along the way that obtaining your goal may be a lot harder than you thought, so confidence plummets and resolve gives away. However, if you take into consideration these five tips from Lee Labrada, I am confident that you will be able to get back on track, stay there, and find success in the end!
About the Author:
Elizabeth Anastasopoulos, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, spends significant time in the gym training her athletes. However, her time as a figure competitor in the OCB directed her passion towards nutrition and nutritional counseling. She is currently pursuing her Diploma in Comprehensive Nutrition, and she plans to continue her education by obtaining a certification in sports nutrition as well.
Her greatest joy, though, is her family. She is a proud wife, as well as the mother of an 18 year-old daughter and of 9-year old twins. As a family, they enjoy multiple outdoor activities and traveling to various destinations.