Deciding to make big changes to your diet or exercise routine sounds great in December when you’re looking ahead to January. But then the new year comes, and that rush of excitement and motivation you had in the beginning wanes. That’s natural and normal — absolutely no shame here. But, if you’re in that mid-February slump, we have some expert-backed ideas about how to shake it off and take those good vibes into tackling your goals for the rest of the year.
EMBRACE THE FIZZLE
No matter how much you were ready for change, “the new year can bring new excitement, perspective and energy. However, all that ‘new’ will simmer down, so you must be absolutely ready for change,” says Haley Perlus, PhD, an expert in sports and performance psychology. Now is the perfect time to reevaluate your goals and ask yourself if they need to shift. Perlus advises setting resolutions that you’re emotionally connected to positively. If you find yourself saying you “should” do something, then you’re creating a negative connotation that can bring you down. How can you reevaluate your goals to focus on ones you’re truly into taking on? That shift makes you want to achieve them.
REEVALUATE YOUR HABITS
Sometimes even the best-laid plans can go awry. For example, says Perlus, if you planned to go to the gym every day after work, but you missed half the days because things pop up (you’re too busy, work runs long, you’d rather head to the couch), then that might not be the best time for you. Even with the best intentions, you may be working against yourself. Would it fit better (and more seamlessly) into your morning routine? Or, maybe daily exercise is too much for you and you’d feel a bigger sense of accomplishment decreasing that goal to three days during the week?
RETHINK YOUR WORKOUT
It might not just be the timing, but the entire exercise that’s bringing you down. For instance, do you hate to run, but you resolved to run five days a week? Or, are you a beginner who chose a really tough boot camp? If you’re miserable in your workout, you won’t want to do it. “Everyone has individual differences and limitations, and not every exercise is suitable for every individual,” says Perlus. Focus on activities you love. Finding the best workout for you might take some exploration. So try a barre or cycling class. Give indoor rock climbing a try. Maybe pickleball is your thing. Give yourself time to figure that out.
If there’s one thing you do for your goals tonight, it’s get some sleep. “Lack of quality sleep leads to feeling run down and unmotivated. Better sleep leads to better workouts and better overall health and energy levels,” says Perlus. Your goals should be built on a foundation of sleep. (Do you need another reminder? “Find a way to improve your sleeping habits, and it’ll improve almost everything else you’re working toward as well,” she says.)
GIVE YOURSELF A HAND
Even if you’re not seeing the scale reflect weight loss, it doesn’t mean you’re not doing things right and should give up on them. Maybe you’re eating more consistently now, started eating protein- and fiber-packed snacks, are taking a 10-minute walk after lunch, or can do five pushups in a row now when a month ago you couldn’t do any. Those are all winning changes that will benefit your health even if you don’t lose weight.
PLAN YOUR NEXT GOAL
It’s tough to find motivation in one goal for the entire year, so continue to change things up — big or small. Maybe the next couple of weeks you challenge yourself to add an extra serving of veggies at dinner. Maybe now that you’ve mastered speed walks around your neighborhood, you sign up for a speed walking race. If you need help goal setting, follow the SMART rule. (SMART is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound.) Perlus says the sweet spot in setting resolutions is just below, at or above your current ability or routine. “Setting resolutions that are way too easy is boring. Setting resolutions that are too difficult introduces anxiety and self-doubt before you even begin,” says Perlus. Now, get after it.
Ready to take the next step? Unlock MyFitnessPal Premium to access custom goal settings, quick-log recipes, and guided plans from a registered dietitian. Premium users are 65% more likely to reach their weight loss goals!