Staying Motivated Despite Setbacks

I have a confession. I gained 5 pounds over the Christmas holidays. I know, I know. Everyone has trouble eating well over the holidays. But I have always thought that was bullshit. How can someone gain weight just from eating like crap for a single day? How can a big turkey dinner lead to an extra 5 pounds on your belly? I have always thought that was just an excuse for people to justify their weight gain. But now I am one of those people… crap. But there is a positive side to this story. Despite the fact that gaining 5 pounds kind of made me feel sorry for myself, I tried to think about the bigger picture. At my heaviest, I weighed 230 pounds. And despite gaining the 5 back, I was still at 200 pounds. So even though I gained weight, I had still made lots of overall progress. And thinking about that made me feel a tad better.

So my first point is this: Don’t ever think of your fitness or weight loss goal as a race. It’s not something that is going to happen over night, and there are always going to be obstacles. It’s okay (and normal) to be discouraged by setbacks. But when you take a step back, look at the big picture. Are you ahead of where you were when you started? Good. That is called progress. Think about Bill Gates, and picture his bank statements over the course of 30 years. Now instead of just numbers, picture his account balance as a line on a graph. Do you really think that line went up every day? How about every week, or every month? Hell no! I haven’t even researched this and I guarantee Bill Gates has made and lost millions of dollars during his money-making journey. And look at where he is now. As long as you are healthier than you were at the start of your journey, then you are still on the right path.

The reason I am talking about this is obviously because of my own personal setback. Today I finally got back to the gym after about 3 weeks without working out. Why did I take such a long break? I have no idea. But I am sure as hell not going to blame it on the Christmas holidays. Okay maybe just a little bit. I let my own 80/20 rule get out of hand (in case I didn’t mention it before, I believe that if you eat well 80% of the time, that makes a diet sustainable). I would have a cookie at work (because some asshole brought them in)… I would stop by McDonald’s because I was too lazy to cook… and the list goes on. So instead of just enjoying the odd treat, I started having “treats” all the time. Mix that in with the holidays, equals 5 pounds on mah belly.

So maybe I let that weight gain discourage me, and maybe that was one of the reasons why I stayed away from the gym for so long. And then the treadmill reared its ugly face. I found that I was running slower than normal. 9 mile per hour sprints seemed like a distant memory. And of course I was discouraged again. So I moved on to the main part of the workout, and I knew that those 3 weeks off would likely mean I was going to struggle in other areas as well. So I decided I needed something positive to turn my day around. I needed to set some sort of personal record. So I did 30 burpees in a row without stopping, which I have never done before. And although the rest of my workout was sub-par for my standards, at least I had the burpees. I think it’s really important to always try and set some sort of “personal best” each time you work out… even if it’s something small like running at 7.1 mph instead of 7.0 mph. That gives you concrete evidence that you are progressing, which is the whole point.

And guess what? In my 3 weeks away from the gym, I stayed with paleo and managed to lose 3 of those pounds again. So as of today I am at 197. And that brings me to my next point, which has to do with motivation. I lost 3 pounds in 3 weeks… simply based on how I was eating. This proves that you can lose weight without slaving away for hours at the gym. Eating properly is hands down the most important thing you need to do if you want to get healthy. I believe eating well is 80% of the battle. Now you’re probably asking yourself “what does that have to do with motivation?” Well… I know that a big reason people have trouble dragging their butts to the gym is that it takes lots of time, or they’re intimidated, or they feel like it will be an exhausting journey that will take months to finish. And trust me, I have felt all of those things. But the good news is that eating well doesn’t take a ton of work. All it takes is planning and a bit of discipline. Okay, maybe it takes a lot of discipline. But eating well is way easier than going to the gym 5 times a week.

So what I’m saying is this: If you are having motivational issues and aren’t making it to the gym enough… at the very least, make sure you are eating well. If you do that, I promise you won’t lose your progress. I stayed away from the gym for 3 weeks and still lost 3 pounds. And that motivates me because I know that if my fitness falls off track, I can still rely on my diet. It motivates me because I know that if I break my leg, or can’t find the energy to work out, I will won’t lose my progress because I will still be eating well. And the best part is that when you eat well, it helps with motivating you to work out. And while we are on this topic, I should mention that I will regularly be talking about my own personal fitness journey… including before and after photos (when I finally get the courage).

So ask yourself this question. What motivates you? What gives you the mental strength to work out when all you want to do is watch Seinfeld and eat Fruit Loops?

For me, it’s being around other people in the gym. I know that sounds strange, but I don’t mind when the gym is busy. Seeing so many other people around me that are making their lives better is an incredible thing. The guy next to me on the treadmill doesn’t know it… but we are actually racing against each other. Aside from that, I love seeing results too. The scale motivates me just as much as fitting in to my smallest pair of jeans. I have a “Fat Craig” photo hanging by my door to remind myself of how far I’ve come. What is it for you? Maybe it’s the hot tub session after the gym. Maybe it’s the delicious protein shake or the feeling of accomplishment. My point is that everyone needs to find their own personal reason to get healthy. And when you find yourself low on energy, or stuck to the couch, just keep thinking about that one thing that motivates you. It’s not going to be easy. But nothing worth accomplishing ever is.

“Being fit is not a destination. It is a way of life”

-Unknown

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