We all know that the first 30 days of any fitness program are going to be the hardest. And while there’s nothing really new under the sun, I thought I’d give what helped me make it through the first month without losing sight of my goals. It’s important to note that this is ‘how to help’ get through your first month, not ‘what to do’; mainly I’m focusing on ideas for on how to stay motivated. You’ve probably heard some of these before, and if you haven’t that’s great. Also there is sure to be more than 8 so if you have ideas, just feel free to post them in the comments.
1. Make a Plan
This is going to be easier for some than it is for others. I’m a procrastinator by nature so this wasn’t easy. Take a week before you start to plan the changes you’re about to make, set your goals, and make all the big decisions now before it’s time to implement them.
2. Leave out the “But I’d Really Like…”
For the first month, set obtainable goals for yourself. Reaching goals is a huge part of getting yourself motivated to stay on track. If you say “My goal is to lose 10 lbs this month, but I’d really like to lose 15,” then 10 is not your goal. In your mind, you’ve set your goal to 15 and if you land at 10 or 12 in the month, you’re not going to be satisfied. You’ll probably even feel like you’ve failed. Set a realistic number and stick with it! Don’t add to it, let any bonuses be a pleasant surprise.
3. Don’t torture yourself
We all have bad habits and we all want to get rid of them, but don’t make so many changes that you feel overwhelmed. For me, I realized that removing soda from my diet was an unrealistic goal for the first month. If you feel like you’ve given up too much for this program than there’s another notch against motivation. If you need your glass of wine or Ding Dong stash then keep it around. Understand it’s a bad habit that you want to remove at some point, but for now, keep your comforts. You’re making a lifestyle change and if there’s something you know that you’re truly unwilling to give up to the point where you will scrap the program over the Ding Dong, then keep it around.
4. Use a step up/down approach.
Whether losing weight or gaining muscle you’re probably not eating the right amount of calories each day. If you’re eating 5,000 and you read that 2,200 is what’s going to get you your best results, don’t eat 2,200 calories from day 1. Maybe start the first week at 3,800. Then 2,800 and so on and so forth. Let your body and your mind get used to the changes, and don’t stress about not hitting every number right from the start. For now, you’re making progress and that’s what’s really important.
Have a cheat day set aside once a week, where you don’t need to count every calorie you eat and don’t need to run a mile. Relax and let yourself rest from the week. What you’ll notice is that on cheat days you don’t feel as active, you’ll see a significant drop in your energy levels, but it’s a big help on your mind. As time goes on you’ll realize that you’re eating less and even exercising on cheat days because you enjoy the feeling of having that energy.
6. Find Motivation Wherever You Can
You’re fighting a mental battle with your old self and you need all the weapons available to you. Whether that’s creating a support group by telling friends/family members about your goals, self hypnosis, or other methods of pumping yourself up. Find what works for you and do it!
7. Celebrate the Victories
Congratulate yourself whenever you’ve made it through a full work out session, bask in the awesome feeling. Lost 3 lbs this week? Awesome, pat yourself on the back! Try to reward yourself with something that isn’t part of your old lifestyle. Giving yourself a double cheeseburger every time you succeed is kind of like telling your brain that your success is determined by how much you can revert to your old habits. Double Cheeseburgers also tend to hurt your chances on future victories.
8. Get a Physical Reminder of Your Goal
For me, it’s just a blue wristband. Something that you have on you or around you that reminds you of what you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes I would be working and look down and see the wristband and think, “Hmmm I haven’t had my protein shake for lunch”, or “did I take my supplements today?” Other times it helped me when I was tempted to grab an energy drink from the gas station. It reminded me that it’s not worth it.
It’s really a mental game. Getting your head and your body on the right track for a new lifestyle takes a lot of effort, but just keep telling yourself “it’s worth it.” Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t a complete list so if you’ve got something else to offer, please feel free! We want everyone to be successful and knowledge is power. Even if it’s just amending one of the 8 on the list or disagreeing with them, let us know what’s worked for you and what hasn’t.