You know how retailers start shelving Christmas goods the millisecond after Halloween has passed? That’s what it’s like with the Big January Gym-Going Frenzy. Before you’ve barely cleared your holiday plate, the conversation immediately turns to New Year’s resolutions – especially ones focused on fitness. You can’t help but get caught up in the excitement, and before you know it, you’re the proud owner of a shiny new 12-month gym membership.
While we love nothing more than seeing people commit (or recommit) to fitness in January, what pains us is witnessing the slow decline that usually follows three or four weeks later. People who are excitedly posting workout selfies on January 2nd can barely make it to the gym by the end of the month. To help you avoid being that guy, we’re offering up some free advice on how to stay motivated for the long haul. Here are four easy ways to keep your January workout momentum in full gear for the full year.
1. Be SMART About it
Want abs like Ryan Gosling and muscle like Chris Hemsworth? Join the list. Nothing says you can’t get as lean and buff as these guys, but don’t expect it to happen overnight – especially if you’ve never set foot in a gym before. When starting your New Year’s plan, follow the business acronym of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals: ones that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. For example, set a goal to lose five pounds of fat in your first four weeks. This goal checks all the S.M.A.R.T. boxes, which is important for long-term success. When you reach that initial five-pound milestone, you’ll be motivated to keep going. Set an unrealistic goal and you’ll just set yourself up for failure and be tempted to quit before February sees the light of day.
2. Acknowledge the Pain
Starting a new fitness plan is exciting. In the beginning, all you can think about is ditching the old, flabby love handles and making way for a new, muscular body. But in the glow of New Year’s goal setting, it’s important to acknowledge that the process won’t always be easy. After weeks one and two, you may not be jumping for joy to hit the gym following a long day of school or work. Similarly, there may be times when you’ll want to skip the lean chicken breast in favor of an XL pizza and wing combo. That’s natural, because new healthy habits (or any habits, for that matter) take a while to form. In the book “Outliers,” author Malcom Gladwell explains his 10,000 Hour Rule; a principle that says 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. While you may not be striving for elite-level fitness status, this principle does reaffirm that fact that it takes dedication to form lasting habits and excel at new skills.
3. Seek Nutritional Support
Failing to see noticeable results is a big reason why many new gym goers don’t make it past January 31st. And guess what’s crucial to seeing noticeable results? That’s right; nutrition. Not just any nutrition, but a balanced mix of high-quality protein, complex carbs, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats.
Knowing what to eat and when can be confusing on a regular day, but add training to the mix and things get even more complicated. If you’re not eating the right foods at the right time, all that effort in the gym may go to waste. For example, without enough carbs, you’ll lack the energy to train with gusto and really push yourself. Without proper post-workout protein, your muscles will struggle to recover and build. And without the right healthy snacks in between meal (and too many trips to the vending machine instead), you’ll derail your chances for washboard abs.
You can help ease nutrition confusion by hiring a personal nutrition coach or subscribing to an online nutritional coaching program. A personal nutrition coach can help answer any dietary questions you may have, such as: Which protein supplements are best for muscle building? Should carbs be eaten before or after workouts? Is it best to count calories or measure food with your fist? Your personal nutrition coach can also help you establish your unique fitness goals – such as fat loss, muscle building, increased strength, more energy, etc. By improving your nutrition game – and seeing better results because of it – you’ll be more likely to beat the January odds and stick with your new workout plan. A great online nutritional coaching service that Lee Labrada helped develop is leanbodycoaching.com.
4. Put Something on the Line
Did you ever have a buddy in college who partied his way through school, nearly flunking every subject, because his parents were fronting the tuition bill? Usually, the students who had to fork over their own money ended up graduating with higher grades and better job prospects. Why? Because they had something of their own on the line – their hard-earned cash from crappy summer jobs. They knew if they quit, it was their money down the toilet.
What is it that will make you think twice about dropping out of your fitness program in January? What are you most afraid of losing if you quit? For example, is it the money you spent on your new gym membership? The time you’ve already put into your workouts? Or maybe it’s the opportunity to hear your friends and family compliment you on your new leaner body a few months down the road. We all have something that drives us. You just need to find out what that “something” is for you. Don’t just think about what you’ll gain by sticking with your program. Think about what you’ll lose if you don’t.
As February, March, and April roll around and local gyms start clearing out again, you can stand tall and proud knowing you’ve made it past the big rush. Just keep these simple tips in mind, and you’ll be good to go the distance!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.