If you’re one of the millions of people who increase the profits of the gym and weight loss industry every January, you may be wondering how to be one of the elite few who stick with your goals when February rolls around.
If losing weight were easy, you wouldn’t have to read articles like this. The good news? There are plenty of strategies to hack your weight loss slump. You just need to find which one works best for you.
Get back on track with your weight loss resolution by trying these tips and tricks.
Schedule your workouts
You should think of working out as a business meeting or an important appointment. Your workouts shouldn’t be optional. Put it on your schedule and leave it there.
If your friend or partner wants to go out to eat at 5 pm on a Friday night when you would normally be going to the gym, tell them you have a class and you can meet afterward.
There’s a good reason why we choose to stop going to the gym after a few weeks — it kind of sucks. There, I said it. Exercising is painful and uncomfortable most of the time. You’re tired, hungry, and sweaty, and you probably work 40-plus hours a week as it is.
Humans seek reward and pleasure, so it’s understandably difficult to motivate yourself to do something that doesn’t come with immediate gratification. This is why research shows that people who find an incentive to go to the gym end up going up to 51 percent more frequently than people who don’t.
Rewards work best when they come during or directly after your workout.
Be creative with your incentives. Here are a few ideas:
- Read a “page turner” novel.
- Watch an episode of your favorite Netflix series.
- Watch the first 30 to 40 minutes of a movie (you’ll need to go the gym again to watch the rest).
- Schedule a massage after your last workout that week.
- Play a game on your iPad while working out.
- Plan to go out for coffee and a chat with a gym buddy after your workout.
Mix it up often
Mix up your gym experience regularly. Performing the same workout or using the same set of machines every single time you go to the gym can get boring fast.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Instead of doing 30 minutes on one machine, try 10 minutes on three different machines.
- If you want to stick with the treadmill, consider varying the speed with interval training. For example, walk or jog for a minute, then increase the speed for 30 seconds. Repeat for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Find a gym that offers a variety of classes. Make it a point to try one new class each week. For example, one week you can try Pilates, and the next week you can give Zumba a go.
Changing your workouts is one of the easiest ways to break the February slump. Trying something totally new is also good for your mind.
Don’t shoot for the moon
If you go to the gym or plan your meals every day with “losing 60 pounds” at the top of your mind, you’re just going to set yourself up for disappointment.
Instead of focusing on your long-term goal every day, come up with smaller, more realistic goals that can be achieved within a shorter period of time. Here are some good examples:
- Take three gym classes this week.
- Try one new machine every other day.
- Run a total of 10 miles this week.
- Increase your time on the treadmill by two minutes every day.
- Prep a new recipe for your lunch.
- Replace your typical mid-morning snack with a piece of fruit.
- Skip chips, fries, candy, or ice cream for the next four weeks.
- Drink a tall glass of water 20 minutes before every meal.
If you don’t hit your goal that week, shake it off and try again the next week. Remember, the race to fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.
Make it a date
Social interactions are a great motivator. With a gym buddy, you’re more likely to try new machines, exercises, and classes. You’re also much less likely to slack off.
Knowing that there’s someone else out there waiting for you holds you more accountable. It’s also a nice feeling to have someone there who actually cares about you.
As a bonus, you may not feel so shy to try out different weight machines if you have someone else there to help you figure out how to use them. This could make a profound difference. Research shows that a combination of weightlifting and cardio is most effective for weight loss and overall fitness.
If you can’t find a good gym buddy, consider signing up with a personal trainer. You’ll set a time and place to meet, and they’ll make sure you show up.
Get more sleep
Sleep shouldn’t ever be last on your list of priorities. When it comes to fitness and weight loss, sleep may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising.
In fact, getting enough good quality sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity. Lack of quality sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity in adults.
Consider a team sport or martial art
Team sports or martial arts go above and beyond the typical gym membership. You’re more likely to make lifelong friends as you learn a new skill together. Training with like-minded people can be incredibly motivating. This is especially true if you’re the type of person who thrives with competition or with a team mentality.
There are dozens to choose from. Here are a few:
- muay thai
- dance classes
Before signing up for a membership, be sure to try out a class or two. This is not only to make sure you’ll enjoy it, but to get a gist for the overall environment. No matter your skill level, the environment should be 100 percent supportive.
Invest in that food scale
If you’ve been working out and not seeing results, it could be your diet. Perhaps you’re making a fair attempt at counting calories with a free calorie counter app like MyFitnessPal, but you’re still not losing weight.
You could be eating more than you think you are. In fact, most dieters tend to underreport what they eat.
A kitchen scale will help you accurately weigh your food so that you don’t accidentally sabotage your calorie counting efforts. Using a food scale in conjunction with a calorie counting app could be the key to breaking out of that February slump.