Get the Ball Rolling
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It comes with practice and patience.
Getting started on a new challenge is the toughest thing to do. Why do today what can be put off tomorrow? Tomorrow becomes next week, next month, next year.
The beginning is the hardest part. But, it becomes easier once you get going.
This is momentum. Putting something in motion and staying in motion. This is a concept that can be applied to many areas but I’m going to write on it in a training context.
How do you get the ball rolling? How do you build momentum? And what happens if you lose it?
You already have an idea of what you need to do. You want to lose weight, get strong, get healthy, feel confident. You know you should exercise, eat healthy foods, and sleep better. This isn’t new information.
The best way to start, is to start slow. The common attitude is to dive headfirst into a strict diet or intense training plan without an appropriate transition period. This is a good way to burn yourself out, get frustrated, and quit.
Have you ever tried to become an early riser? Let’s say you usually wake up at 7am but you want to start getting up at 6am. Do you set your alarm for 6 in the morning right out of the gate? Probably not. But what if you try waking up 15 minutes earlier each week? In 4 weeks, you’ve reached your goal!
If you want to start eating right, don’t throw away everything in your fridge and eat nothing but salads for the next 6 weeks. You’re not suddenly going to overcome your cravings. Swap a meal a day, two or three days a week, for a healthy alternative to your usual meals. As you get used to the change, build on it. Do more days, for more meals. Make gradual changes, satisfy cravings, track progress.
Stay in Motion
Congratulations! You’ve started your new challenge and it’s going well. A few weeks in and you’re figuring it out.
How do you keep this going? Set goals. Both long term and short term. Ideally, the short term should help progress you to the long term. Goal setting is a powerful mental tool to motivate you and keep you on track.
Every step you take towards your goal builds momentum, and achieving goals will give you an extra boost. Every training session and healthy meal counts. Everything you do that puts you closer to your goal creates momentum and every following action gets easier and easier because it falls in line with what you want to accomplish.
You will face challenges to your momentum. Like a scheduling conflict that makes you miss a training session. A family event with delicious foods you can’t pass up on. Or some extreme life changing event that throws you completely off track.
Recognize that this may slow you down but does not have to stop you. Momentum is in your favour! At this point a single missed training session isn’t an issue because you’ve been going strong for the past 5 months. You can have an extra slice of pizza at the party because you’re now a meal prep pro and have lost 30 pounds!
The point is that it is much easier to handle these issues once you’ve built up your momentum. Starting out, these situations might be serious setbacks. But after making good decisions, you have the ability to handle those situations.
Don’t Go Backwards
Everything that I’ve said about good decisions building your momentum is also true for making poor decisions.
You build momentum whenever you decide to skip your training, to eat poorly, and to neglect your health.
These decisions put your momentum in the wrong direction. Again, once you’ve built enough momentum going this way it’s much harder to stop.
Fortunately, the same strategies apply. Slow that negative momentum down gradually and set goals to break bad habits and put yourself in the right direction.
Patience is Key
Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight. Your behaviors have taken years to develop to the point where they are second nature. Disrupting those behaviors to create new habits is going to take time as well. Trust your process.
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