How to keep your momentum

Adventure Sports WeeklyJanuary 15, 2013 

Many people, especially athletes, start a new year with a multitude of plans for physical self improvement. However, even with a good start, too many of those plans fall by the wayside.

If that's you, here's how to regain and keep your momentum.

First, is your new workout plan too vague? Is it basically to "get in shape" or "lose weight"? If so, you probably won't make any real changes.

Think it through: what do you mean, "get in shape?" In shape for what? How?

And, what do you mean by "lose weight?" Do you want to lose pounds or FAT to get skinnier? Again, how? Where are the details? Exactly what changes do you want to make to your body?

If you haven't already written down the details, do it now. Just writing down a plan will boost the momentum of continuing to do the work.

If you're the type who likes advice from experts, ask a personal trainer or nutritionist to help you design a workout or diet that will accomplish your physical goals.

Make copies of your plan. Keep one beside your bed, and look at it every night before you go to sleep. Keep another in various spots that you keep changing; like on the fridge, beside the TV, taped inside the front door and so on.

The very act of changing where you put a copy of your plan will help you "see" it, so you don't stop paying attention to your intentions.

Next, make a "sacred space" in your life. This can be a workout time, or a meal time. If it's a workout that perhaps you plan to do three or four times a week, carve that time into your life. Nothing should get in the way, not phone calls, not visiting with someone who just dropped by, nothing. Whether it's a home, outside or gym workout, regard it as sacred to yourself.

The same with meals. Examine what you intend to eat and think about it. Regard what you intend to consume as sacred, so you are better able to resist the temptation of a fast chowdown of burger and fries.

Perhaps the most important momentum keeper is never, ever, ever resorting to a "just this once." EVER. It's frightening how many just this once exceptions stretch out into days or weeks and finally just get dropped altogether. Don't do that to yourself.

Finally, work on the psychology of creating a habit. According to many studies, it takes at least two months to firmly establish a habit, whether it's working out on a planned schedule or eating differently or even something as simple as keeping a surface clear of clutter.

You've already established the unworthy habits you now want to change, so the trick is to resist going back to your old habits while firming up new ones.

This is where it gets tricky, where the "just this once" excuse works to bedevil you back to your old ways. This is the part that takes the most effort.

Establish a thinking pattern to help you. One of the best is to regard your momentum as "head work." It's hard to start, say, working on a new weightlifting program or working on a new eating pattern, but you already know you can do it. Those are external things.

However, "head work" is internal. When you're tempted to do a "just this once" of skipping a workout or eating some greasy fries, work on controlling your psychology -- and it IS work. If necessary, force yourself to stick to your plan, despite having a strong desire to stray away from it.

It helps to keep in mind that the strong desires that stop your momentum will slowly weaken with each passing day. At the end of two months, it will be easier to stick to your plan and make the changes that will build your self esteem and make you happier.

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