You know you want to get fit, but you lack the motivation. You know you need to work out, but there are so many other things on your to-do list that you never get around to actually doing it. You know you need to lose weight, but you are so busy doing for others that the last thing you can do is something for yourself.
Does this sound like you?
I think any parent to young children has felt this way at some point. You thought your schedule was packed, but by the time you add a baby into the mix (or two, or three), committing to a consistent fitness plan seems impossible.
It’s not that you don’t want to improve your health. You do. The question you always get stuck on is: how?
I’m not a health professional in any shape or form. And there are a lot of days where I feel very, very unhealthy. But, I was able to lose fifty pounds after my first pregnancy, and I’m in the process of losing the weight I gained during my second pregnancy all over again.
How do I do this? I find ways to stay motivated. I go beyond wanting my fitness goals and find ways to actually make them happen.
I’m not going to say that is easy. It is actually very hard, and has gotten even harder now that I have two children. One way I stay motivated is by creating a reward system that is aligned to meet my fitness goals. Basically, I bribe myself. And as silly as that sounds, it is something that has worked through multiple weight loss sprees
Determine Your Fitness Goals
Too often people assume an accurate fitness goal is to lose X number of pounds. They say, “I want to lose 30 pounds by summer” or “I want to lose 20 pounds before my high school reunion.” These are good goals that will keep you motivated, but it is important to realize fitness is much more than just the number you see on the scale.
On the surface, my post-partum weight loss goal is to lose fifty pounds. That’s approximately how much weight I gained during my second pregnancy combined with the weight that I failed to lose after my first pregnancy.
My bigger goal, however, is to fit back into the clothes I was wearing before I got pregnant the first time. This is much more important to me than what I actually weigh. Weight can change due to a number of factors, especially after a pregnancy. If I never see the same number on the scale again, I will be okay with that. My main goal is to confidently fit into the same clothes I wore before getting pregnant.
Your goal could be totally different. Maybe you have a certain amount of weight you would like to lose. Maybe you have other concerns, like lowering your cholesterol or preparing to run a marathon. Whatever your fitness goal is, it should be unique to you. If it is not a goal that truly inspires you to make healthy changes, you won’t be as motivated to keep up the hard work.
Segment Your Progress
Once you have defined your fitness goals, determine how you want to measure your progress. Create four or five milestones between your starting point and your ultimate goal. This will make your overall goal appear more manageable.
It is really easy to get burnt out in week one of a new fitness routine, telling yourself, “Fifty pounds! That will never happen.” Maybe you’re training for a 5K and can barely run for five minutes straight. You might be far away from your goal, but it is always still in sight.
Hone in your efforts by deciding what mini-goals you want to achieve. Maybe it’s to lose that first ten pounds. Maybe you want to run 10 minutes straight without stopping. Again, you need to make your milestones doable and inspiring. Hitting that first milestone can be the push you need to keep going.
Reward Yourself As You Go
Once you’ve determined your mini-goals, set up rewards. This is the fun part! Think of all the things you love doing and how you can use them as motivation.
I love pasta. When I started losing weight, my first milestone was to lose ten pounds and my reward was to eat pasta. As much pasta as I wanted! I just couldn’t eat any pasta until those first ten pounds were gone. Not five pounds. Not nine pounds. I had to lose ten pounds. After reaching my goal, I ate to my heart’s desire—for one meal. Then I started working toward milestone #2.
It can sound a bit like a chore chart for adults, and in a way it is! But the reality is, it works for me! It keeps me focused so that I am not constantly beating myself up about how far away I am from my end goal. It also makes me better appreciate my hard work along the way.
Your goals don’t all have to be related to food. In fact, they shouldn’t be just about food. But think about whatever it is you really enjoy doing and work that into your reward system. I like to build upon my successes. My first reward might be pasta, and then my second is a professional pedicure. It’s summer and I REALLY want a pedicure, so that is a strong source of motivation.
Treat yourself. You really do deserve it.
Make the Finish Line Worth It
Plan something really big to celebrate reaching your ultimate goal. After my first pregnancy, my husband and I planned a tripped to Mexico. This was my biggest motivation for losing the fifty pounds. I certainly didn’t want to spend a week in Mexico feeling bad about myself! So each time my inner voice would try to talk me out of working out or eating healthily, I would think about my trip. I was pushing myself extra hard those last few weeks, and it was totally worth it.
Granted, this trip was booked and paid for while there was still quite a bit of weight on me. If I hadn’t lost the weight we still would have ended up going. But by sticking to my goal, I felt so great about my progress the whole week. And I didn’t feel guilty about indulging in food and drink while there. It was such a fun trip, and I know being confident with my fitness accomplishments made it even better.
Think about what is really important for you. I am a huge travel junkie, so I think planning a trip is the best way to reward myself for hitting my goals. I’m already thinking about where I want to go when I lose the weight this time. But, you have to do what works for you. Maybe you want to splurge on a luxury item like a nice purse or an expensive camera. Consider what inspires you and then go for it! You won’t regret it.
This is just one way that I try to stay motivated when I am on a weight loss program. I plan on using this website to document my second weight loss journey, so I will be revealing several other fitness tips in the future.
I’ve even created a fun printable to get you started! You can get it here. Really put some time into what you want your goals to be, and come up with rewards that will make you stick to them. Good luck and keep me posted on your progress!
As promised, here is a fitness rewards tracker to get you started 🙂
Now I want to hear from you. What are your fitness goals and how do you reward yourself along the way?