How to Stay Focused to Achieve Your Fitness Goal
Growing up, anytime I had a large task ahead of me as a teenager, my mother would say, "Con paciencia y voluntad se comio la hormiga al elefante." It’s a popular Spanish saying. In English it means, “With patience and willpower the ant was able to eat the elephant."
I still laugh when I remember it. However, it still comes to mind anytime I have a goal that seems too big to handle.
The last large goal I tackled was competing in the bikini division in a physique competition eight months post-partum. If I could insert an emoji right now it would be the wide-eyed scared looking smiley face.
I gained about 32 pounds during my pregnancy which is well within the healthy range. However, I also lost a lot of muscle mass, strength, and aerobic conditioning throughout the pregnancy and in the 6 week recovery period after delivery.
I felt completely out of shape performance-wise and very weak. Plus I was so sleep deprived I was nowhere near being able to workout at the intensity I used to for my previous competitions.
I was 6 months away from the competition when I received clearance from my doctor to begin exercising. Nothing was like I expected it would be though. My schedule was completely taken over by this tiny helpless baby that was having difficulties nursing and needed me at his side at all times. I knew caring for a newborn would be challenging, but I did not know that exclusively breastfeeding would mean I would be nursing every hour or so for up to 40 minutes at a time. In fact, the first three months of a newborn's life is called the fourth trimester because they are still so depended on the mother and should be constantly held and feed just as if they were in the womb.
The fourth trimester was over and I was 5 months away from the competition and my goal was looking farther away than ever. It would have been so easy to have given up at that point, but I took some steps to help me commit to my goal. Here are three techniques I used that you can apply to keep you on track too.
I told others about my goal. Once you share your ideas and intentions with others you instantly feel committed to following through. I made a post on social media announcing my intentions to compete again and included that date of the show. I instantly had people reaching out to me expressing their excitement to see my results. There was no turning back now!
I took a step toward completing my goal every single day. Sometimes the step was big, sometimes it was more of a tip-toe. The idea though is to keep moving forward. On nights I had decent sleep, I would complete my high-intensity interval training first thing in the morning, lift in the afternoon, and stick perfectly to my meal plan all day. On days where my energy was low or the baby's schedule was thrown off, I would at a minimum lift and make sure I at least stayed on track consuming enough protein for the day even if I missed the mark on my fat and carbohydrate intake.
Set smaller milestones along the way toward the big goal. Hitting small goals will help you stay on track because you will feel encouraged to keep going. If success feels too far, it is easy to lose motivation on the way. These smaller goals can be as simple as sticking to the changes you've committed to making. For example, the first milestone I set was not missing a resistance training session no matter what. I started off being lenient on my cardio sessions, but I committed to complete each resistances training session scheduled for two weeks straight. When you make your milestones about behavior changes, you will feel successful because you can change your behavior much faster than you can change the number on the scale. However, staying consistent with behavior changes will lead to success reflected on the scale.
Little by little I chipped away at my elephant until my consistency paid off and I stepped on stage. It was incredible for me to see the transformation I made because I knew what the journey looked like to get there. It was not perfect, but it was consistent. Every day looked different but each day had something in common. Regardless of how much was left to tackle, each day was another day I would take a bite into. I could only focus on one bite at a time until before I knew it I looked up and had arrived.
What can you reach with a bit of patience and willpower? Implement these tips and bring your appetite for success. What are you waiting for? Take that first bite!