We’ve all experienced that rush of enthusiasm that comes with starting a new diet or training program, but how often do you stick to the plan once that initial burst has faded away?
If you’ve ever visited a gym in January, you’ll know you’re not alone. The hordes of people making an enthusiastic start to their New Year’s resolution can make it pretty difficult to get on the equipment, but you know in the back of your mind that in a few weeks things will be back to normal as people slip in to their old habits.
The main reason for people failing to be consistent is the lack of a clear goal and a well constructed path to get there. Most people start a diet with a blanket statement like “I’m going to lose 30lbs”, but without a plan and realistic short term goals it can seem like an unreachable target. When a goal seems impossible it’s much easier to give up, which is what the majority of people do when it comes to training and diet.
If you have a significant amount of fat to lose, break it down in to smaller, more manageable targets. Rather than aiming for the 30lb target, start tidying up your diet so you’re eating at a caloric deficit most days and that you’re eating plenty of lean protein and veggies.
Track your progress every week, and set mini goals on the way to your target. Aim for 7 or 8lbs loss a month, and focus on that initial smaller number until you achieve it. You can break it down further, aiming for 2lbs a week, which seems a much more achievable target than the big number you’re going after in the long term.
Setting and achieving these mini goals will give you the momentum to keep going, and you really feel like you’re making progress rather than feeling you’ve still got a long time to go.
Focus On Actions, Not Results
It’s also easy to get disheartened if you’re not making progress as quickly as you’d like. You may have a goal of adding 20lbs to your bench press in 2 months, but that might not be a realistic goal for some people. You can’t directly control how much progress you make towards a specific target like that, but what you can control is how often you work towards it.
Rather than saying you’ll add 20lbs to your bench in 2 months, commit to training the lift 3 times a week until you hit your goal. It might take 2 months, it might take 6 months, but the only thing you’re committing to is training consistently until you get there.
The same goes for the initial example of losing 30lbs. Some weeks you’ll lose more, some weeks less – all you can control is what you’re eating and how often you’re exercising. If you stop seeing results over the course of several weeks it might be time to adjust your calorie intake a little, but as long as you commit to doing the right thing you’ll remain consistent.
Another great way to stick to your training plan is to be accountable to someone, typically in the form of a training partner. If you know you’d be letting someone down if you don’t turn up then there’s a pretty compelling reason to hit the gym, and it’s been an accountability staple for quite some time.
One key aspect here is to find someone with similar goals to you, and who won’t let you off the hook easily. We’ve all had that workout partner who will try to talk you out of the gym or let you away with not putting in the effort, so try to find someone motivating who you like to train with.
Another popular accountability method is to sign up for an event and let people know you’re competing. This could be a 10k race, a triathlon, a bodybuilding contest or a powerlifting meet – anything that you’d like to do and would need to train hard for will work. If people know you’re entering then you’ll get asked about it a lot, so there’s nowhere to hide!
Commit To Consistency
Write down your goals, including why you want to achieve them, and review them every morning. There may be days where you just don’t feel like going to the gym, but reviewing and remembering the reason you started and what you want to achieve can help get your mind back on track.
The real step to improving consistency is a mental one, which only comes by consciously committing to consistency and working towards your goals every single day. Set your goals and work out the plan to get there, and make sure you do something that helps move you closer to achieving it every single day.
About The Author:
Stuart is a fitness enthusiast who owns takefitness.net, a blog with a range of workouts and nutritional advice.