Step One: Set Meaningful, Realistic Goals.
Start by knowing exactly what you want from the experience. Often people start a weight-loss program with what I call a surface goal. They want to look good for a wedding, reunion, speech or special event. While the notion is fine, it typically doesn’t translate into long-term success. Plus, it sets up unrealistic timing expectations and creates unnecessary pressure that takes away from the experience.
Have a more global goal, like being healthier or feeling better about yourself. When you’re realistic about your goals and expectations, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated to stick with it. There’s also a lot less pressure when you take this approach.
Step Two: Put the Fun Back in Fitness.
So many people choose an exercise or activity simply because it burns the most calories or strengthens muscles in the shortest amount of time. I say: Forget the results! Instead, choose an activity you find pleasurable. I’m sure you have at least one activity you enjoy. Find yours and make it the backbone of your exercise plan. If you love being active outside, design your program around hiking, biking or jogging. If you like being in a group, organize one and join a dance class like Jazzercise or Zumba or take a Spin class together.
The bottom line: If you don’t enjoy it, chances are you won’t do it. Drop exercises you don’t enjoy (even if they get results).
Step Three: Fall in Love with Food.
There are so many great options when it comes to healthy eating these days. Identify good-for-you foods that also taste good. Need some inspiration? Take a healthy cooking class, organize a cooking club (round up a group of friends with similar goals and meet for meals once a week), browse food websites and cookbooks. Healthy eating can and should be enjoyable.
Step Four: Focus on the Big Picture.
When you know a sacrifice or task improves your life, you’re more likely to enjoy it. Never lose focus on this. Remind yourself daily that your hard work—fun or not—leads to something meaningful.