If I had to offer one piece of advice to anyone starting out or starting over again on a health/fitness journey it would be to commit to reaching your goals for two solid months. No matter what life throws at you in those two months stick to your plan, have your goal always in mind and don’t let anything derail you! I would be willing to bet by the end of that first 60 days you have started to see some results, are motivated to keep going and are well on your way to creating habits that will set you up for a lifetime of success.
Scientifically speaking it takes about that long, 60 days, to form a new habit. Not a week. Not 21 days. A full 60 days. While two months may seem like a lot initially, really think about how quickly the last two months have gone by. If you are anything like me and can hardly believe that we are already almost into August of this year, the next two months will fly by before you know it! If you start making healthier food choices now, commit to working out a few days a week now, pick one or two not so healthy habits to do away with now, by the start of the Fall you could be well on your way to a whole new lifestyle and that healthier version of yourself that has just been patiently waiting to make an appearance.
I so often hear people complain that they have started and stopped fitness and diet routines over and over and over again mainly because they get discouraged that they weren’t seeing results fast enough. I think so many people believe that if they eat right and exercise for like a week or two that they are going to see miraculous changes occur and the weight will just start to fall off. Sadly, when this doesn’t happen, I think people start to lose that initial enthusiasm they had, they stop being as diligent about eating properly and working out and before they know it they have thrown in the towel on the whole dang process. To these people I just want to loudly exclaim…”STICK WITH IT!!!!” You guys, it is so worth having a little patience and persistence to give your body a chance to show you what it’s capable of because it truly is capable of great things!
Even though I am over a year into my own journey this time around, I too was one of those people who would stop and start diet and exercise programs, looking for a quick fix, and being disappointed when after a few weeks of “hard” work I didn’t look like all those beautiful people on the cover of Cosmo. I too crash dieted, ferociously jumped on the treadmill for hours at a time or did some sort of combo of both that realistically I could only make work for around two weeks before I spectacularly crashed and burned. To be totally honest, that scenario ALMOST played out again this time around. I can’t say for sure what made this attempt to get healthy and fit a success when others failed before other than I truly just think I was so fed up with myself that I went into it this time with the attitude that I was not under any circumstances going to fail.
Things did get dicey for me around about the six-week mark when I was feeling yet again that I was doing everything I could to get the weight off and seeing no changes happen outwardly. I was starting to get bored with getting on a treadmill day in and day out and I vividly remember sitting at my desk after I had completed another lunch time cardio workout thinking this is it. This is the crossroads where I either throw in the towel YET AGAIN or I put my head down, re-commit and figure out if I could be doing something differently or better to get the results I so badly wanted.
That afternoon I spent a fair amount of time (don’t tell my boss) researching all things diet and exercise-related trying to come up a plan as to how I could keep myself motivated, lose the ten pounds I had set out to lose and get my mental health back under control all at the same time. I mean, why wouldn’t I think that should all happen overnight??? All I knew at that point, however, was I was committed to succeeding. What I quickly learned is that while I probably needed to tweak my workouts by adding more weight training and adding some variety to my routine I also just simply needed to hang in there. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I wasn’t going to undo all the unhealthy living I had amassed over the previous years in a day or even 30. I also quickly realized that while I may not yet be seeing any outward changes happen, they were undoubtedly starting to take place on the inside already.
This was a huge turning point in my journey, and one where I broke all the bad workout habits I previously had and developed new, improved successful ones. I found the at-home workout programs that have absolutely changed my life, I started really doing research on and paying attention to what I was fueling my body with and from there, well the rest is sort of history. I jumped right into the first program I did from home (LIIFT4) which taught me not only the value of lifting weights but also how to properly go about it and I did a pretty massive overhaul of my diet. From there, I started seeing muscles develop where they never had before, the weight started falling off and best of all maybe my energy levels went way up and my anxiety levels went way down.
Now the changes I made are what worked for me. Whatever your health and fitness related goals are you have to find the right combination for yourself and your body. What has worked for me, with my life and with my schedule may not be what’s right for you. But I do believe a few fundamental principles can be applied to everyone who again is searching for a way to either start, re-start or stick with a healthy (er) lifestyle. Here are a few recommendations on how to create healthy habits based on my own experiences having FINALLY been successful in creating my own:
- Have a clear goal in mind in the beginning: For instance, mine was to lose ten pounds. I never wavered on that when I was starting out a year ago. Now that goal has since morphed into a much broader and long-lasting goal of just being as healthy as I can be but, in the beginning, having a set, tangible goal to strive for really helped keep me on track and moving forward.
- Start by making small changes and taking baby steps toward you goals: I think another major way people set themselves up for failure is they make drastic lifestyle changes in the beginning that might be sustainable for a week or two at the most, but aren’t realistic or even worse can be dangerous. Think crash diets, super intense workout schedules or a combination of both those things. My advice is that instead of saying you’re never going to eat another carb again in your life, start with just cutting out the cookies you usually snack on in the office. Or instead of drinking three sodas a day, replace two of them with a glass of water. Start working out 3 days a week, not 7. Just make changes you know you will be able to stick with and then build on them from there.
- Commit to this new lifestyle for a minimum of 60 days: Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post it takes about two months to really get those habits to form and results to start to be noticeable. Don’t forget though, you will be making progress as soon as you start so don’t get frustrated or inpatient too soon. The changes start to happen from Day 1!
- Track your workouts and the progress you are making: Get yourself a pretty new calendar/day planner, fitness tracker whatever works for you and keep track of your daily accomplishments. I personally log my workouts in a planner mostly because it is an extra layer of accountability to hold myself to. It helps to inspire me to not quit on myself because I see how much hard work I have put in that I wouldn’t want to go to waste! Plus, who doesn’t love getting to go out and buy a shiny new planner…don’t forget some fun stickers to go with it! 😊
- Cut yourself some slack: No one said this was going to be easy, only worth it! Chances are your motivation will lapse at some point, you will want to give up a time or two when sleeping in just seems like the better option, or that pizza starts calling your name in the office cafeteria saying you should definitely pick it over that boring salad bar that you ate yesterday and the day before. Taking a break, having a cheat day once a week or generally taking rest days are perfectly ok. Allow yourselves these things so you stay sane and committed….just learn to rest, not to quit!
- Don’t forget to reward yourself! Celebrate little successes along the way…like a week where you made the effort to eat mostly healthy meals, knocked out all the workouts you planned to do or just simply stuck to one of your goals likes replacing soda with water. Buy yourself a new pair of workout shoes, or a cute top or have that well deserved cheat meal plus an ice cream cone for dessert and enjoy every single minute of it!
Losing weight, getting healthy, becoming a fitter version of yourself is no easy task. It takes commitment, diligence and a lot of mental toughness but creating healthy habits makes the task a whole lot more manageable. In my experience, healthy habits also tend to build on themselves. Once you have a few core habits in place, the domino effect may start to happen and you could find yourself accomplishing things you never thought possible. Give yourself the 60 days at first, trust in the process and just don’t give up on yourself! You are soooo worth it!!