One of the most common questions we get asked is how do you stay motivated? How are you so disciplined? The key to making your goals stick and living a healthy lifestyle is not inspiration or motivation; it is consistency and building habits into your life.
So how do you create consistency?
First, let’s recognize that change is hard. It can be hard to keep up with the habits we’re trying to establish, especially when we don’t know our WHY or are focusing on the short-term versus making it a lifestyle.
This is one of the main reasons why so many New Year's resolutions end up falling through. We start off strong with a plan to totally change our life, but then 2 weeks later our motivation wears off. Life happens and all of a sudden our goals seem to have gone out the window because we feel we can't keep up with everything we've committed to doing. Therefore, many often go back to the old ways because they come naturally and they are ingrained deep into our routines.
Humans are creatures of habit. It is our nature to follow the Law of Least Effort, because every action we take requires energy. Therefore, we automatically gravitate towards the path that is easier.
So, contrary to the famous saying “go big or go home,” we recommend building change one habit at a time to instill consistency rather than trying to do an overnight overhaul and expecting yourself to go from 0-100.
It is highly unlikely anyone will sustain working out 6 days a week right out of the gate when they aren’t working out at all right now. The same applies with trying to overhaul your nutrition overnight, which is why many people push off starting until Monday because they believe they have to have everything perfectly planned, all the food prepared and no temptations in order to be successful.
However, this is simply not true. In fact, we believe the better path is the sustainable path so let's dive into the strategies to help build habits and increase your consistency so you can reach your goals.
1. Know Your WHY - before you begin your journey, you need to know WHY this goal matters. If you say you want to ‘lose weight’ what does that mean? Why does that matter? How will you feel when you reach your goal? Oftentimes people make a blanket statement of “I want to lose XX pounds” without connecting to the deeper, emotional reason. You need to know WHY this goal matters to you and how your life will change as this is key to helping you stay consistent and be disciplined on the days you are tired and don’t feel like it.
2. Set your mindset. This is a lifestyle, not a short-term commitment. The habits you are working to instill have a much greater impact than just helping you “lose weight.” They are important to your long-term health and helping you sustain your results. What is the point of doing something for 30 days if you can’t sustain the results? Sure you may get the 10 pounds off quickly, but thinking solely about the short-term only sets you up to rebound long-term. Ask yourself, can I sustain this 5, 10, 20 years from now? AND will I be happy? Having the lifestyle mindset as you begin not only helps with consistency and longevity of sticking to the plan, it also alleviates a lot of pressure if you don’t hit a specific goal in 21 days.
3. Start with ONE focus and nail it. Consistency is more important than anything else you could be focusing on. Research has shown that when we focus on changing ONE behavior at a time, the likelihood that they'll retain that habit for a year or more is better than 80 percent. However, when we try to change two behaviors at once, the chances of success are less than 35 percent. (Source)
If you’re struggling with drinking enough water, don’t grocery shop or prep, don’t eat protein every meal or consume veggies, then don’t say “I’m going to drink a gallon a day and prep all my meals for the week with my new macro goals that I’ve never tracked before.” This sounds extremely overwhelming, right??
Set yourself up for success by starting with ONE focus and track consistency. Ex: I’m going to drink ½ my bodyweight in ounces each day for 2 weeks. Look at ways to make the goal a bit easier, like getting a nice water bottle, or a healthy water enhancer and track your accomplishments. We like the app called STREAKS, or you can track on a calendar - put a green checkmark on the days you win, and a red X on the days you fell short of your water intake goals.
4. Don’t over commit. Set small, achievable goals. Many people struggle to stay consistent because they over commit. As I mentioned before, don’t commit to working out 6 days a week when you aren’t in an exercise routine right now.
Overcommitting sets us up to become overwhelmed as life gets busy, and it will forever be busy!
Consistency builds trust. Set a goal to workout 2x per week, and do it for a month. If you can add in a 3rd or 4th workout, or even just a walk or some sort of movement - GREAT!
Additionally, don’t overcommit to the length of time that you have to workout. If you’re not working out now, committing to working out an hour a day sounds good, but can be very challenging. Schedule in an hour, but understand it is okay if you only get 30-45 minutes in. Don’t skip the workout or feel that it doesn’t count if you’re not able to do 60 minutes. Something is better than nothing in building consistency!
5. Surround yourself with the right people! As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says, “New habits seem achievable when you see others doing them every day.”
Take the time to talk to family, friends and coworkers! We spend the majority of our day around these individuals so having daily support from them makes sticking to the plan easier.
Ask them for support and be specific with an example of a situation and what you need. You could try saying something like, “Every Friday you ask me to go to happy hour and I love spending time with you, but right now happy hour is too much of a temptation. Maybe we could go for a walk instead?”
Better yet, invite them to join you on your journey as an accountability buddy! *Understand that they may not want to or be as enthusiastic about it as you are, so don’t be upset if they say no.
Your environment and your community matter! Find an online community or a gym you can join for accountability and support outside of your inner circle. This can be extremely beneficial on days you feel like you’re struggling to stay the course!
6. Make a schedule and commit! Look at your week ahead and plan in the days and times you’re going to workout. This is an appointment with yourself, and you’re the only one that has to show up :)
Scheduling the time on your calendar shows that it is a priority and you have time.
We know things happen and curveballs are thrown at us constantly, but try your best to not move the time around. You may find that you need to get it done first thing in the morning and that may require waking up a bit earlier, but we promise you will feel good, feel accomplished and ready to tackle the day knowing your workout is done.
7. Prepare! Most people fail because they don’t take the few minutes needed to prepare. As mentioned earlier, if your goal is drinking more water - you need to have a plan and ensure you have the water with you in order to drink it :)
Take a minute in the morning to fill up your bottle and carry it with you. If you don’t love plain water or like to have flavor, add in a healthy water enhancer like hydrate. Hydrate is unlike any other product on the market and it tastes amazing! Hydrate has L-Glutamine, BCAAs, Pink Himalayan Salt (great for mineral balance and thyroid function) and high doses of Vitamin C (a water soluble vitamin that constantly needs to be replenished as we excrete it throughout the day).
Further, if your goal is to get to the gym to workout after work, pack your gym bag and keep it in your car so you can go straight to the gym instead of going home and then having to talk yourself into leaving the house again.
A little preparation goes a long way!
8. Recognize and reframe negative self talk. What we think matters, a LOT! What we tell ourselves we are capable of achieving is powerful! As I always tell my training clients, your mind will give up before our body does.
Start to recognize the thoughts that pop into your head throughout the day. What are the false beliefs and stories the little voice in your head is telling you? As soon as these thoughts come into your mind, ask yourself is this true? Most of the time, it is not!
So, we have to work to reframe them in a way that aligns with your goals and your ability to achieve them.
Here’s some examples of thoughts and how you can reframe them.
I can’t do it >>> I can do this, I am strong and capable!
I can never lose weight >>> I am capable of losing weight & keeping it off!
I suck at this >>> This is a journey and I am learning every day from my struggles.
It’s too hard >>> I get better and better every time. It will get easier.
I don’t have time >>> My goals are a priority and I will make time!
The shift of these thoughts made you FEEL better… didn’t it?
9. Reflect and assess - Making changes takes time. Most people think it is an easy road and rely on motivation for success, but it simply doesn’t work that way. Like anything in life, there will be tough times, rough days and days you don’t nail your habits. This is a journey, but if you focus on consistency you will reap what you sow!
Each month, or at least every quarter, take some time to reflect on your goals, recognize the progress you’ve made, and assess your consistency. How have you shown up for yourself? Are you enjoying this process? Have you been more consistent than before? If so, what is the next goal? If not, What is the biggest roadblock you need to remove? Do you need an accountability partner or coach?
No matter how big or small the wins are - you should reward yourself for progress! As you reach smaller goals, for example, consistently working out 3 times in the week as you committed to, reward yourself for sticking to it! Try not to reward yourself with something that will undo progress. Find something that aligns with your goals - a new pair of tennis shoes, new meal prep containers, a weekend trip to hike, or a massage are all great options.
Finally, remember that no one is perfect - give yourself some grace in the journey and focus on utilizing these strategies to build new habits consistently.
Being consistent helps you accomplish your goals, instill habits long-term, and build trust. It’s a powerful tool that you can use for yourself and for whatever goals you want to accomplish.