Getting started is easy, staying motivated is hard.
Fat loss, building muscle, getting stronger and looking better take time.
You need to be patient and keep motivated over an extended period of time if you want to reach your ultimate goal.
Here are 10 tips that will help you stay motivated and get better results starting from today.
Track Your Food
No matter what your goal is, you need to track what you are eating. For the more experienced in health and fitness this may not be necessary, but it is very important to understand what is going into your body. Calories are important, macro-nutrients are important, and you need to know exactly what is in the food you choose, no matter what diet approach you decide to take.
At the beginning of a journey it is exceptionally important to track your food, because day to day you will not see the gains from your hard work. A journal of your food will not only help to motivate you knowing you are doing the right thing, but it will also teach you what foods are good for your body, how many calories you are actually eating, and how you respond to certain foods.
I recommend my fitness pal, it is a downloadable app and program that you can use to track the food you are taking in. If you aren’t a tech person, simply keep a journal of what you eat throughout the day and add up the calories during the day.
If you go over your calories on one day, you can assess the damage and respond correctly. Often on a diet people are either on it or off it. This means if you go off track slightly, the whole day turns into three large pizzas. Tracking your calories will help you to understand that the damage actually isn’t so big, and keep you motivated moving forward.
As a beginner or someone starting out, I recommend doing this for two weeks. This will help you to learn what is inside food and how you respond to it. If you enjoy it and are happy with the results you are getting, keep doing it.
Plan Your Workouts
This ties into a point below on creating habits. Planning your workouts is the first step to ensure it becomes routine. Although exercise is secondary to nutrition when it comes to losing fat, in my opinion it is still a very important and necessary part of any transformation. The way you metabolize food changes, and you will look better faster.
Working out is tough for people who have never done it before, and often isn’t something we look forward too. Planning your workouts at least month in advance keeps you much more accountable and goes a very long way to getting it done.
My recommendation is getting a calendar printed out, sticking it on the fridge and have your planned workouts scheduled in. It is important to put away a specific time, and it is much more effective if it is the same time each workout day. Do it for a month and see how your productivity increases.
If you are unsure of how to put together a workout, I have some already made for you:
- 20 minute home workouts 4 week plan
- Beginner Home Workout 1
- Beginners Home Workout 2
- Beginners Gym Workout
- Intermediate Gym Workout
- 41 Living Room Exercises
Track Your Achievements
Losing fat is a process and there are many different things that will show you are on your way other than the scale. Tracking your achievements will help keep you motivated and see that you are making big changes and getting great results.
If fat loss is your goal it is better to track a variety of different variables. The scale isn’t always your best friend and you weight can vary depending on a lot of environmental factors. Make sure you take your measurements, this can be done at home. Your waist, arms, legs, hips and chest.
It is also important to keep track of training variables. Although you might not have lost weight off the scale one week, you may be able to do a couple of extra pushups, run another interval sprint or lift a heavier weight. These achievements are very significant and very important.
Set Long Term Goals
Having a specific goal in mind is very important. It can keep you motivated as you take the steps toward it.
Changing your body takes time, so setting your goals well into the future makes them realistic and attainable. When you have a lot of fat to lose, initially you can drop more faster. As you get leaner it gets a lot harder. Your long term goal needs to take this into account, and can be split up into shorter term goals.
Set Short Term Goals
Staying motivated during the setbacks on the way to your long term goal is tough if you don’t have short ones.
Once you have an end goal in mind, set out to define a few shorter term goals. These goals should be steps that get you to where you want to be. They should be closely related and be things that can help you attain the long term goal. Performance goals or related nutrition goals are often a great way to start.
These are what will ensure you reach your long term goals, help you bust through plateaus and keep going even when you aren’t seeing the results you want in the short term.
Example Long Term Goal: Lose 20 pounds in 5 months.
Example Short Term Goals:
- Increase maximum pushups from 5 to 10 in the first two weeks.
- Increase your squat for 8 repetitions by 10 kgs in two weeks.
- Eliminate soda from your diet for a week.
- Drink 2 liters of water a day for a week.
- Run a 5km race (As long as you keep strength training!)
Tell a Friend
It’s no secret, everything is easier to achieve when you have support.
If you can get your family and friends on board with your goals you don’t need to battle the environment. Reaching your goal is a process that takes time, but when you have to fight unnecessary temptations it makes it harder. Ideally the best thing to do is have your family on board with your new nutritional habits. This doesn’t mean every needs to eat the same way you do, but they definitely need to understand it.
The same goes for workouts. Working out with a partner is about 100 times easier than doing it alone. Try to find someone to work out with and push each other to achieve those short term goals.
Create Good Habits
I want to create a whole separate post on habits because I think it is what drives a successful healthy lifestyle. Bad habits can ruin your progress. Alternatively, creating good habits can ensure that you succeed.
Initially it takes a little work to get into a new habit, but it is worth it. When something becomes automatic, you don’t have to think about it anymore. For many people, this is the single most important thing that will help keep you motivated and stay on track.
Let’s say for example you are at work and you go to take a coffee. Many of us will automatically grab a cookie or biscuit. Over time, this cookie adds up and you will gradually gain weight just from a simple habit.
A habit consists of a cue, a process and a reward. The cue to eating the biscuit in this case is buying the coffee. You have to discover what the reward is in order to change the habit. Is it taking time out to go and chat with colleagues or is it getting some sugar into your blood? If it is the latter, you can begin by opting for a healthier snack and seeing if you feel the same reward. If it is the craving for company and chatter, then you can skip the coffee all together and go and chat to someone where there is no opportunity for cookies.
If you want to create a new habit you need to make sure you are creating a cue. Take working out for example. If you want to workout three times a week, I recommend making sure that it is the exact same time of each day, right after something else has occurred. For example, you wake up have a light breakfast, put your workout clothes on and get it done. Eventually having and finishing breakfast will be the cue for working out. Until then, planning your workouts is the first step to creating those habits.
I plan on writing a full post on habits, how they affect our fitness goals and how to create new ones and change old ones, but I recently read a very eye opening book that you should check out if you think your bad habits is what is holding you back, check it out. It’s called The Power of Habit.
Understand It Takes Time And Patience
Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight. Whether you need to lose a lot of weight, or you simply need to drop the last few pounds, you need to take your time. It’s tough to stay motivated when the progress is slow, but an understanding and appreciation of the smaller steps is what will keep you going.
When you set out to lose weight quickly, you are setting yourself up to gain it all back in a hurry. When you can understand that sustainable weight loss takes time you will be able to appreciate the small steps you make. It’s all well and good watching the biggest loser participants get their butts kicked and lose a lot of pounds a week, but the way they get it done is not something you want to be doing every day.
This ties back in with setting long term goals. Is it absolutely important to push yourself, but it is also important to make sure you are setting up a change for life, not just a way to fit into your wedding dress.
Experiment With Nutrition Strategies
At the end of the day you do need to watch the calories you eat to get sustainable fat loss. How you do this is totally up to you.
Experimentation is never great for creating long term habits, but finding what works for you is very important. I recommend counting your calories for at least a short time, but you have to find a nutrition strategy that suits your lifestyle. This is a huge key to keeping you motivated and on track. After having a good understanding of what is going into your body, most people will be able to regulate what they eat and understand that flexibility is the key, however often sticking to a certain ‘diet’ will help people regulate the calories, get good food in and make bigger gains.
If you have a lot of weight to lose and your diet isn’t great and you absolutely suffered when you were counting calories you may want to look at the Paleo Diet. I believe it’s a great template for people who are not doing high intensity training because it incorporates a whole lot of natural food groups. If sticking to a certain restrictive diet is what you need to stay motivated, then I recommend the Paleo diet.
There are several different nutritional strategies you can use, but at the end of the day you need to be doing something that suits your lifestyle. I will talk in more detail about this soon as there are several ways you can approach nutrition that all end in the same result.
If I had to sum up in one sentence how to lose fat and keep it off forever and stay motivated at the same time, I would tell you to eat good food 90% of the time and strength train three times a week.
In my experience rigid and strict diets do not work long term. You reach your goal and then don’t know what to do. The fat comes back and it comes back with a vengeance.
It is exceptionally important to set up sustainable habits, not just reach your goal and revert back to your old way of life. When you can understand that flexibility is important and implement it, you will keep yourself motivated. Knowing you need to eat well 90% of the time, and the other 10% you can indulge is a huge motivator. Understanding that you only need a minimal amount of well thought out exercise to get pretty great results makes it easier to follow.
Be flexible and create a better lifestyle.
What else do you do to keep you motivated? Leave a comment below!