It is the end of the year and a new year again. Motivation is high. It is time to reflect on the year that was (and what a year it was) and set resolutions for the year to come.
The time of the year to dive headlong into a new clean eating and exercise regime. Abstaining from alcohol, sugar, or some other vice leading to a fitter, healthier you: a fresh start.
It’s not just the changing of the calendar that brings about change. After going all-in on January 1st, we do it again in February (Febfast). And again in July (Dry July). People looking for that quick fix, that weight loss hack, wearing their abstinence like a badge of honour.
In reality, we don’t need to wait until a New Year or month-long charity event to rev up our motivation; we all know that the diet starts on Monday… What happens after New Year’s revolutionary motivation has waned? After the challenge or month’s end, what changes have stuck, and are taken forward with us?
It’s thought that some 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. It is also thought that Monday is actually the worst day to start a new diet. Abstaining from any vice leads many to indulge twofold after they have completed the challenge, feeling it gives them permission to do so. This is why so many people struggle to keep restrictive diets going for the long term. This all-or-nothing, quick fix mindset and approach form the root of the yo-yo diet crisis. New Years, charity events, all-in challenges are great catalysts to reset and usher in new healthy habits that you can play forward. But the key is to keep going.
We know that making better food and alcohol choices can have a profound impact to our health, leave us feeling healthier, sleeping better and being more productive in our life as a result. We don’t need the allure of a New Year resolution or motivation of a month-long challenge to understand that. Any lifestyle change will have a knock-on effect on our physical well-being leaving us feeling better, equating that feeling with a newly found motivation. If we equate motivation with a feeling, we soon get stuck and return to old behaviour patterns.
What happens when motivation wanes? Motivation pulls us into the trap of trying to hook onto a feeling before we act. Weight loss requires lifestyle change in diet, exercise and, most importantly, mindset, emotions and behaviours linked to these habits. Reviewing key motivators, drivers and values will give insight and prompt long term change. If our head is not in it then the motivation is lost.
Motivation follows mindset. This is where actions come into play. Action leads to more action. Committing to behaviours, actions and habits will always serve us better and longer than motivation ever will. This is called committed action. With enough of a compelling reason, we can continue to act and keep doing what truly matters, regardless of feeling, long after motivation has worn off. By staying consistent, this is when you will start to see changes in your life. Choose to learn from previous experience and do better to keep focused on the main thing, sustainable lifestyle change.
After the challenge or month’s end, choose the habits that resonate most and are easy to apply to your daily life. Choose to make the changes to your lifestyle that will move you closer to your goals. No matter how much we “know”, it is what we can do consistently that matters. Understand your habits, your true motivations and your reason for change. Understand that motivation is created and sustained by action. Choose one thing to focus on, one thing to add or one limiting factor to remove. As opposed to abstinence, focus on what you have to gain. Be realistic and honest with yourself.
Understand that there is no magic pill, no perfect program. The habits and discipline of repetitive actions and consistency takes time. Don’t wait for another New Year, February, Monday, 14 days, 9 weeks, Dry July to change your diet, your habits or your mindset.