Next week my class will be done. I’ll start then.
My family reunion is this weekend, so I’ll start eating healthy Monday.
The kids go back to school in a month. I’ll go to the gym then.
I just got over being sick. I’m tired. I’ll start soon, I promise….
Sound familiar? I have some bad news for you. There’s never a good time to start.
We’ve all said these things, and a few months later have not progressed and still feel out of shape, tired, and frustrated with the way we look.
I hear one of the above responses more often than not when I create a training program for a client.
Finding a Way
However, I was pleasantly surprised recently by one of my clients. The the first week she told me she didn’t start because she’d gotten sick (which is a legitimate excuse, by the way), but had tried to start the meal plan.
Just a few days later, knowing she was still dealing with sickness, I asked her how the food was going, and she informed me she’d started the workouts. Still recovering, still tired, she made it to the gym.
“There’s never going to be a great time to start,” she told me. “I really want to do this.”
Those words gave me warm fuzzies. That is strength. That is determination. That is someone who is going to see change in their life. Why? Because if you really want something, you find the time; you find a way to make it happen.
We all know that. If we really want sleep, we’ll slough off chores to nap. If we really want ice cream, we’ll find a way to drive to the closest Cold Stone. If we really want a promotion, we’ll put in longer hours at work. Why is it different with losing weight?
Keeping Your Word
Believe me, I understand. I’ve pushed off and rescheduled fasting, detoxes, and clean eating plans a number of times for all of the reasons above. In fact, I recently decided it was time to tune up my diet and get rid of some of the toxic stuff I know is hurting me – caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods.
I decided to start a 21-day cleanse. I looked at the calendar and saw that if I started right away I’d be done in time for 4th of July festivities. Perfect.
What I didn’t notice was the rest of my calendar: Three birthday parties, a potluck with my small group from church, and a few other special gatherings involving wonderful food and alcohol. Had I seen that sooner, I may have pushed off the plan so I could embrace all aspects of these celebrations.
But I’d already made a commitment.
See, life always gets in the way. There’s always going to be something that messes up our schedule and challenges our commitment. Life never settles down. The key is learning to plan ahead and prepare for those obstacles so you control them, not let them control you.
I can eat my salmon and veggies at home, and take a healthy snack to the parties. That way, temptation is reduced, and I’ll still have a cleanse-friendly option if I get hungry.
Tips for Sticking to a Plan
There are many tips for how to deal with motivation and excuses, but I’ll just give you three simple ones that have always worked for me.
1) Make a commitment before you can come up with excuses. And keep your word.
The only times I’ve stuck with something is when I picked a start and end date and began before I could change my mind. If I said, “I’ll try to start next week” or “I’ll try my best not to eat (fill in the blank)” I’d lose the battle. I’d already mentally given myself an out.
View it like work – you go to work no matter how desperately you want to stay home, because your boss doesn’t accept excuses. Do the same with your commitments. Give it to God and ask him to help you stay true to your word. This builds our character, and teaches us to let our “yes” be “yes”.
2) Give yourself a realistic goal.
If I said I’d stop eating sugar, coffee, or dairy, with no end in mind, I’d never do it. I chose a 21 day plan because it sounded less daunting. I know my areas of weakness, and I steered myself away from plans that make me cringe. I chose something doable.
Focus on something attainable: I will go to the gym 3 days this week. I will not eat any fried foods for two weeks. I’ll take a spin class every week for the next month. Once you reach that goal, others will become easier. One step at a time.
3) Get help/accountability.
If I’m fasting a certain food for a time, I tell a friend. Once I’ve said it out loud, someone knows. I may never ask them to keep me accountable, but I don’t want them to see me going back on my word.
For even greater accountability, get a trainer or nutritionist. I hired an online trainer a while back, not because I don’t know how to workout or eat well, but because I wanted the outside perspective and accountability.
It prevented me from making poor food choices, because I knew if I had to check in with her weekly and send progress photos, I wouldn’t want to tell her I’d failed, or send photos that never changed.
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to commit to a total overhaul at once and expect immediate results. If you start and mess up a week later, know that you’re normal. You didn’t fail. Just start over, and keep going. Your progress and good choices build on each other and add up in the long term.
So, what are you waiting for? Today is a great time to start.