How many times have you said ‘I’ll start again on Monday’ after skipping a workout or having a few too many cheat meals? I know I’ve said it more than a few times… we all have those days where we feel like we’ve completely sabotaged ourselves.
What I came to realise is that no matter how many Mondays would come and go, I would always see myself starting from the beginning. Giving up mid-week on a Wednesday or Thursday only to treat myself over the weekend with a bottle of wine and a cheese platter. Why is it that we don’t just pick up where we left off? Are we really that lazy to assume that all of that motivation is going to come back to us when it hits a new week? Or even the classic ‘I’ll start again next year’. With 2018 creeping up slowly it may seem like the easy way out to just put off being healthy until then, to wait until the new year to invest in a personal trainer or to buy into whatever the latest fitness craze is.
Motivation comes and goes and to be honest it can take up a whole lot of time and resources. How many photos can we actually save from Instagram before the pressure feels like too much, we feel overwhelmed and once again it all seems too hard. Life happens. Be kind to yourself, challenge yourself and strive for momentum not motivation. It’s alright to have good intentions but good intentions aren’t habits, and after all, good isn’t great.
Progress > Perfection
Nobody is perfect. Even that person on IG that you’re following who has that #goals body has had their fair share of bad days. You’re never going to nail those burpees if you’re going to start back at 5 reps every time you skip a workout. Good habits can be harder to form compared to how simple it is to keep bad habits - progress and persistence is key.
If you delayed your intention to start your healthy habits until Monday you’re more than likely going to find it more difficult to stick the habit. Think of it this way, if you don’t practice how are you going to see any progress? If we ‘practice’ our habits before Monday comes around we’re going to see our results come through much quicker. If we practice the same activity time and again through regular training our muscle memory will develop quickest.
Did you learn how to ride a bike through childhood? You’re probably never going to forget how to do that! Our muscle memory registers certain muscle movements, and these movements can be performed flawlessly after a decade long break. This automatic response from muscle memory is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
For example, you’ve perfected your deadlift now it’s time to decide on your weights - maybe it’s even been a month since you last stepped into the gym and you were previously lifting 80kg, start off small with 50% during your warm up and go from there. Maybe last week you were doing 3 sets of 15 burpees, you’ve skipped a week because of illness and you’re thinking that you’ll just revert back to 3 sets of 5… what are you going to achieve from this? Let’s pick up where we left off - willpower! Your body has learnt how to perform, repair and rebuild muscles after all of this time - and this is how we progress, develop and get results.
How To Make It Stick
1. Forget the idea of ‘all or nothing’ - giving it your all on Monday is an easy way out and a negative state of mind setting yourself up for an inevitable failure.
2. Pay attention to your thoughts - if you catch yourself thinking ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that’ you’re responding to your negative reaction and now’s your chance to correct it - ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that, but I’ll allow it this time - I know that my lunch is a healthy option and I’ll make sure to spend that extra 5 minutes on the rower at the gym this evening’.
3. Stop hating on yourself - positivity can do wonders for our mental and physical health, positivity is progress and feeds momentum. Self love is important, it’s your body and you should be the one to control what happens with it.
4. Embrace the small changes - giving up your 1 can of soft drink per day may not seem like it’s paying off in the short term, but over 1 year that’s 58765 calories / 14600g (14.6kg or 32lb) of sugar that you’re not consuming.
5. Don’t start again, start where you left off - often we find that around 4-6 weeks into a training program people start to drop off the band wagon or revert to starting again after missing a week or 2, whether it’s because an event, holiday or illness or from simply being too busy… our muscle memory is there for a reason! Pick up where you left off - not from the very start.
6. Have someone to hold you accountable - whether it’s a workout buddy, housemate or a personal trainer, accountability means you’re being transparent with your responsibility and results with someone. After all, who are you going to brag to when you’ve hit your goals
1] C. Jacoby. 2017. Health Guidance. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/14351/1/What-Is-Muscle-Memory.html.