Have you ever noticed how crowded it gets at the gym in January?
It’s likely you, like many other Americans, have a plan for upping your fitness game in the new year. Statistically, making a health and fitness resolution is still at the top of the list, and of course the month of January is the peak of it all. People are making good on their newly set goals and health clubs are offering specials to draw in new clients. Excitement is in the air and we all have the best of intentions.
Until we fall off the “fitness cliff”, that is.
According to Health & Wellness writer for the Wall Street Journal, Rachel Bachman, “Check-ins on Facebook to facilities with “gym” or “fitness” in the name drop 10% in February, according to two years of Facebook data. The decline starts as early as the third week in January, Facebook researchers say. This dip comes after a more than 50% surge from December as people chase vows to lose weight or get fit.
The Fitness Cliff
Like most of our goals in life, we do actually begin with the best of intentions, but then the excitement fades and we struggle to keep to our new found routines for very long. In fact, Gold’s Gym did a study that found people in 2016 started to slack on their gym attendance as early as January 9th! They offered up a list of red flags on how to recognize when you begin to fall off the fitness “cliff”.
C – Can’t find the time.
L – Lacking a game plan to keep you going.
I – Ignoring your commitment and falling into old patterns.
F – Frustrated with lack of early results.
F – Forgetting why you started.
So how, exactly, do we become better at sticking to our goals and actually seeing results? It starts with recognizing the stumbling blocks that push you too close to that “cliff” and then using some mindful strategies to overcome them.
Whether you are trying to kick a bad habit, lose a little weight, stick to a budget, or spend more time delving into good books this year, here are some tips for upping your chances of sticking with your goals well after the month of January has come and gone.
Create (and follow) A Plan.
A pretty common excuse people use for straying from their goals is that they don’t have “enough time”. While it’s true we can’t create more time in our day, we can control what we do with it. Don’t let time become your excuse. Create a plan based on your priorities and make time to get it done. You’ll get your best results when that plan is written down into broken into small actions.
Your best success will come if your mindset and your intentions are crystal clear and you make a daily appointment with yourself to put your plan into action with concrete steps. Saying to your friends, “I will lose weight” or “I will eat healthier” is not crystal clear. Saying, “I will set bring my running shoes to work and go for a run 3 times per week” or “I will eat at least 2 vegetables with every meal and stop drinking soda with my lunch” is.
Get a Why Goal.
A WHY goal is a bit different from a WHAT goal, and oh so powerful! A WHAT goal is a good goal to have. It’s a nice place to start, but it’s not enough. I’ll use an example from my life to show you what I mean. Learning to get really good at cooking crockpot freezer meals is a goal I have. It’s a WHAT goal.
A WHY goal gets to the heart of your reason for setting the WHAT goal in the first place. It can only be identified by going deep (sometimes multiple layers deep) into WHY you actually want to accomplish something. So here’s my WHY…
If crockpot freezer cooking is my WHAT goal, my WHY goal might be so I can save time in the evenings having a meal that’s already done when I walk in the door. I can go even deeper still. WHY do I want a meal that’s already done when I get home? So, as a single mom, I can save time in the evenings, spending less time in the kitchen and more family time around the dinner table eating a healthy meal.
Look deep inside yourself (as many layers as it takes) to really reveal your “WHY”. The more of an emotional connection you have, the more likely you will be able to return to this during times when you might see that cliff coming.
Find Some Support.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you first start out, the road may seem so long and daunting that it’s easy to make little excuses along the way. Life has its obstacles. Life has its challenges. Life throws us curves and puts us off-balance. If you enlist the support of friends, co-workers, or family, the road may just seem a little less bumpy. An accountability partner can help you stay committed even on the days when you just aren’t “feeling it”.
Lastly, be persistent and be patient. Your mindset and intentions should be laser-focused upon your goal, even when results don’t seem to be coming as quickly as you’d like. If your WHY goal is strong enough, you can persevere and maintain your focus no matter what is going on around you. We all know it’s easy to give in to external pressures, stresses and drama in the world, but when you look those obstacles square in the eyes the find a way around them, that is when you ultimately succeed, and what a feeling that is!
If you slip up, try not to get frustrated. Don’t make everything so black and white that you end up feeling guilty or shame yourself into destructive habits. Just get right back on track and reach forward again.
Your focus and attitude to press forward must be relentless and passionate if you want to win. When it is, and when you have clearly defined your actionable goals, you know your “why”, and you lean on your support system, you will be unstoppable, long after January 1st!
May you find success in the year ahead!