5 Tips to stay on top of your 2014 weight loss goals

girl ready to workout with water and a towel

You vs February: Running low on fitness motivation? Don’t give up yet.

It hurts. You’re tired. It’s too early. You’re sore. The gym always plays obnoxious music. You hate getting sweaty. You feel ridiculous dressed like this. You look silly to all of these skinny, fit people. You never liked gym class anyway. Is this even making a difference?

Go ahead: Add your reason to quit working out to the list. You set a goal to get fit, lose weight and improve your health last month, and now you’re into the month where New Year’s resolutions go to die: February. This is when your workout stops feeling new and fun, and starts feeling downright hard.

Want your New Year’s resolution to survive February? Want to keep it up long enough to see actual results and really change your life? Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental; the other half is physical”—and the same goes for your workout routine. Whether your exercise habit survives is going to depend more on what’s going on in your head than what’s going on in your aerobics class. So how do you get your head straightened out?

Find a Fitness Nemesis … er, Buddy
Having a fitness pal can be a positive, but it’s not for everybody. How do you know if it would be a good thing for you? Well, if your fitness friend outperformed you, would you

a) feel discouraged and quit working out?
b) feel competitive and try to get the upper hand by the next workout?
c) not even notice?
d) get angry and smash one of those large mirrors against the gym wall?

If you chose b) or c), go get a workout partner. If you chose a), keep working out solo. If you chose d), go see a psychiatrist. Having a partner keeps you accountable and gives you additional motivation. If that’s not enough, you could ask your workout buddy (or buddies) to publicly shame you with embarrassing pictures on a website or social media if you fail to show up for your workout. (For reference on how to do this properly, visit November-project.com/ category/we-missed-you/)

Get a Mantra
This trick comes from marathon runners and endurance athletes, but there’s no reason you can’t take this same strategy into the weight room or indoor cycling class. Choose a phrase, or even a single word, and repeat it when times get tough. One marathoner told The New York Times he repeats the phrase “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional” over and over again as he taps out 26.2 miles. Need a few more examples?

“You don’t have to feel good to run fast.”
“Sweat is your fat crying.”
“Bigger, stronger, faster.”
“Go hard or go home.”
“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

Buy a Box of Access Bars
Yes, the Access Bar® will help you burn fat more efficiently, but that’s not the point of this particular tip. Purchase one box of your absolute favorite flavor of Access Bars and commit (pinky swear if you have to) to only eat a bar before a minimum 30-minute workout. There are 10 bars in each box, and that means you’ll have to do 10 workouts (or two and a half hours of exercise) this month.

If you’re already working out more than 10 times per month, double it and give me 20! That’ll be five hours of exercise per month. The point is, you’ll get a reward for deciding to do your workout, and you’ll have the added benefit of feeling less sore, which will help with your motivation to go do it again next month.

Keep a Workout Calendar
There’s an old saying about planning: “Plans are useless but planning is invaluable.” What does that mean? At the start of every week, write out your fitness plan. (If you want extra credit, you can write out your nutrition plan too.) Every time you fulfill a scheduled workout, draw a happy face over it on your calendar.

But suppose your planned workout doesn’t come through—the weather doesn’t cooperate or your workout buddies bail on you. If you replace your planned workout with another 30-minute workout, draw your smiley face anyway. If, on the other hand, you miss a workout, draw a sad face … or an angry face … in red ink … baring its teeth at you. You get the point.

Hang your workout calendar in a public place where your entire family can see it. At the end of the week, you and your family can look back to see what you did—or didn’t—accomplish.

Focus On The Process
Say you want to lose 15 pounds. When you step on the scale, will it inspire you to work harder? Or will it remind you how far you have yet to go? And how many nagging reminders can you take before you throw your hands up and quit?

If standing on the scale every day motivates you to get better, by all means, do it. But if measuring yourself every day leaves you feeling discouraged, for goodness’ sake, stop doing it. Instead, focus on what you have to do to achieve your goal: exercise and eat better.

Real results come when you execute your plan over the long term. In an ideal world, you’ll even come to enjoy it. And when that happens, goal or no goal, you’ll keep doing it.