You know the routine. It happens every year. The new year comes around and everyone, ourselves included, get all hyped up about how this year is going to be different…how this year things will change. And no doubt we go into it with sincere zeal and truly good intentions. So in January we sign up for a new gym membership or weight loss program. We decide to eat more healthy and become more active. February comes along and we are going strong, trying to adjust to the new lifestyle. March, and we begin to settle in for the long haul. Or do we?
For many of us, March is less like settling in for the long haul, and more like our last stand at the Alamo. Maybe we decide leading a healthier life is not as important as it once seemed. Or maybe it’s just too difficult to attain – especially when March comes around and we are not where we thought we would be by this point. Then April comes and we begin to slack a little – an extra fast food meal and soda here, a missed gym day there. Then May…then June…and before you know it you’ve set aside all goals of a flourishing life until next year, complete with the certain conviction that it will be different then.
Don’t hear us wrong. We know it is hard and never want to minimize that. On the contrary, we want to help. And that’s why we want to offer a few helpful tips for staying encouraged in your health and weight loss goals as those New Year’s resolution begins to wane.
- Make a plan: Do away with abstract notions that weight loss will just happen on its own, or by getting an injection or taking a pill. Weight loss requires a lifestyle change. So each week set concrete, attainable goals for yourself and stick to them. Write them somewhere so that you can see the goal. For example, write it on your bathroom mirror, “This week I will drink 64 oz. of water each day and will eat fast food only twice.” Remind yourself every day, and up the ante each week.
- Use the buddy system: Like many things in life, weight loss and healthier living is easier when you don’t try it alone. Find a friend and commit to hold one another accountable so that you can attain your goals of a flourishing, healthy life together.
- Celebrate every victory: Wars are won through battles, and each smaller victory is deserving of celebration. Celebrate more than just a pound lost. Every day that you reach your goal (maybe of drinking a certain amount of water, exercising for a certain amount of time, avoiding fast food, eating healthier choices) is one more step in the direction of a healthy life. So celebrate! Tell a friend of your accomplishment. Watch a movie. Do a little dance. Remember, oceans are made up of raindrops, and every little bit counts.
- Forgive yourself, but don’t excuse yourself: Let’s be real. No one can follow a perfect weight loss plan. There will be times when we fail, when we let ourselves go, when we fall off the wagon. But it is those times where it is most crucial to remember why you are doing this (you do really want this, don’t you?). Keep the goal in mind and get back up. Don’t decide that you have ruined your chances of success and thus become your own defeater, kicking yourself while you are down. Forgive yourself, and start again with a renewed zeal to succeed. Every day is a new day, and with it comes another opportunity to begin again. But be careful never to allow this to become an excuse for failure.