1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: working out is going to suck. For about 30 minutes a day you can expect to be a struggling, sweaty mess gasping for air just thinking about how sore you'll be the next day. (DOMS are no laughing matter). Don't get me wrong, some workouts are actually fun and you'll look forward to them, but if you really want to see a change, you're going to have to push yourself. That means having to suck it up, pull your hair into that crazy top-knot, and get down and dirty with workouts you hate (burpees and commandos, anyone? *shudders*).
On a positive note, the "after-workout feeling" is completely worth it. You'll be sipping on your post-workout smoothie feeling like you can take on the world and — if you stick with it long enough (which you will) — you'll learn to embrace your time in the gym. There's a huge chance you may even become one of those crazy people jumping out of bed at 6am ready to get their sweat on. Why? Because the benefits you receive from busting your ass for only 2% of your day and eating properly outweighs any amount of effort it took to get there.
Also, erase 'can't' from your vocabulary. "It's not that you can't. You can. You just choose not to." Unless you're literally concerned you're going to pass out or seriously harm yourself, keep pushing through the pain. Take a little break if needed. Listen to your body, but also realize you're not going to see the results you want by half-assing your workouts. As they say, it takes 21 days to create a habit, so the sooner you start the better!
2. DON'T EXPECT MIRACLES TO HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
Ideally, you should aim to take progress pics every 4 weeks. Now you may be thinking, "4 weeks, really? That's such a long time!" and I completely agree with you. It sucks progress can't happen as quickly as you'd like, but that's just how it works. We're led into thinking instant results are possible with "miracle pills" and "skinny teas," but all they really offer are big fat lies. Seriously! Don't waste your money on quick fixes. Rule of thumb: If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Your everyday (and super cheap) teas have plenty of health benefits and are capable of boosting your metabolism. However, the results are minimal at best and will make no drastic change to your appearance. Especially not the "guaranteed" results marketed to you.
An active lifestyle focuses on changing your body from the inside out which takes time. Comparing progress pics each week will only leave you feeling discouraged because it's impossible to achieve drastic results in only seven days. Do yourself a favor and remain realistic during the process. It'll pay off!
3. DON'T FIXATE ON COMPARING YOUR PROGRESS TO OTHERS
It's perfectly normal to admire someone else's body and appreciate what they've worked for, but you should also keep in mind how different everyone's body types are. Some people are blessed with the ability to gain muscle and lose fat quickly while others fight an uphill battle.
It may not be fair, but fitness wasn't meant to be easy! If it was, everyone would be walking around looking the part. Keep a photo archive dedicated solely to documenting your progress. Take front, back, and side views so you can track how much you've changed and accomplished. Remember, some people have been at this for years. You can't expect to mimic their results after just a few weeks.
4. STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE
The number on the scale is a poor indicator of one's overall health because everyone's weight fluctuates throughout the day. It just happens. In fact, some people actually gain weight during their fitness journey, but look stronger simply because muscle is more dense than fat. Ditch the scale and stick to your transformation pics, strength gained, and new-found confidence to measure your progress instead. You can also try logging your thoughts to look back on your fitness journey. Here are some free printables to download for meal-planning and exercise goals. If you prefer the digital route, My Fitness Pal is a great health-tracking app. Don't focus so much on the calories logged, but instead try focusing on perfecting your macros and other nutrients! If you need help deciding what your macros are, try this handy calculator. Keep in mind this is a general estimate. Seek advice from a professional for a personalized breakdown.
5. GRAB A BUDDY
Having a friend by your side is a great way to hold yourself accountable. You can plan workouts and keep each other on track. Another way to receive help from others is creating a fitspo Instagram account. Millions of people similar to you are more than willing to help motivate and give encouragement when needed.
6. SWITCH UP YOUR WORKOUTS
Having a routine is nice, but it can grow boring. Look for new forms of exercise like swimming, a spin class, or even yoga. It's a great way to hold yourself accountable when you find yourself in a rut —especially if you're paying for classes or a gym membership. Plus, it's an easy way to meet new people with similar interests.
7. HAVE EVERYTHING READY THE DAY BEFORE
Plan your outfit, equipment, and workout routine the night before so you'll be more than ready to go the next morning. On particularly early walkup calls, I'll wear my outfit to bed so "morning me" has no excuse but to get up and go.
8. TREAT YOURSELF
It's best to find healthier alternatives to your favorite indulgences, but if you absolutely need to occasionally 'Treat Yo'Self' then go ahead! Completely depriving yourself of your favorite foods is never fun. As long as you don't make a habit of mindless overindulging, you'll be perfectly fine. Do what you need to do to keep yourself sane and on-track.
One good practice to start is having a specific day of the week dedicated to a cheat meal. This way, you can rationalize super unhealthy choices and limit your indulgences. For example, if you're craving that chocolate cake at dinner, but know you have a friend's birthday coming up that same weekend, you can prioritize one "cheat" over the other. Ask yourself, "cake now or drinks later?" This way of thinking will help keep your impulsive eating in-check.
9. CHANGE HOW YOU SEE REWARDS
Like I said before, having the occasional treat is fine, but try not to see food as the ultimate reward. Thinking, "I've worked so hard I deserve this" can get you into a habit of emotional eating. Instead, reward yourself with new workout clothes or new appliances (a Vitamix blender is an excellent investment if I do say so myself).
You could even have a fitness piggy bank where you deposit a dollar amount each time you workout. This way you have extra cash saved for the sole purpose of rewarding yourself with something special.
10. UPDATE YOUR PLAYLIST
Having the right playlist can instantly boost your mood and give your workout an extra oomph! Create one with all your favorite songs to help you complete even the most grueling workouts. If you need help getting started, check out our very own Spotify. We have a playlist for almost everything (and yes, it's color coded).
11. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
If you're not putting in 100% effort don't expect amazing results. Are you honestly eating healthy, balanced meals or are you indulging a little too much? Are you half-assing your workouts and not giving your all? Are you expecting unrealistic results? You get what you put in — just remember that!
12. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Sometimes life happens and things don't go as planned. We get sick, injured, skip workouts because we aren't in the mood, or go overboard on cheat meals that turn into cheat days. That's fine! Avoid falling into the trap of "oh, I've screwed up already might as well start over next week." Don't penalize yourself just because of one minor setback.
Remember: one perfectly healthy day isn't going to add life-changing results to your progress, just like one bad day isn't going to revert you back to where you started. Forgive yourself and move on. Make the next day a chance to get it right.
Congratulations on getting this far and working toward becoming a better you! Without sounding cliche, the hardest part really is starting, so have at it and get sweaty!
If you have anything to add, leave a comment!