We’ve all been there — the “new year, new me” mindset where the first few months of the year we quickly shift our habits in order to become a better version of ourselves. However, right as the ball gets rolling, the progress suddenly stops. Why am I not running as far? Why am I not losing any more weight? What am I doing wrong? Here are 5 key points we found that might have you stuck with your health goals (hint: it’s not your fault!)
1. The Inevitable Plateau
According to a Washington post article, once you gain the initial traction, there will be an inevitable plateau. It’s actually part of the journey. You didn’t do anything wrong, but rather you hit a milestone. Once you achieve your small goals, the journey is just beginning!
The plateau is your body’s way of telling you that you may need to switch up your fitness or eating regime to keep your body stimulated and get the most benefits from your efforts! Remember that health does not have an endpoint, it is a journey with a myriad of challenges and achievements that help sustain healthy behaviors.
2. Having grit: make a plan and stick to it!
To overcome the plateau, it’s important to analyze your goals. But first, what are they? Why do you want to achieve these goals? What steps can you take right now to achieve your goals? Having grit shows that you are resilient, able to persevere through tough situations, and keep your eye on the prize.
Remember that your journey towards better health may be nonlinear and may come with obstacles. But it’s important to create a system that works for you and make your goals attainable. According to Plunkett of the Washington Post, “the main difference between an average adult and a high-level athlete isn’t a lack of talent or willpower but rather a lack of a system.” At Achievement, we’re here to help you reach your goals no matter how big or small. Whether it is walking 5,000 steps or 25,000 steps per day, you will be rewarded for your healthy actions!
3. Have someone nudge you — accountability and buddy system
A few health experts like Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy found that she does better when she shares her health goals with someone else. It’s important to have someone support you and be able to share wins and losses during your health journey. Having someone join you will also hold you accountable to reach your goals, and you may be helping someone else reach theirs! Win-win!
Additionally, digital health trackers are a great way to help hold you accountable to health goals and track your journey. Our in-house research team looked at thousands of individuals using digital health trackers and found a positive association between activity tracking frequency and weight loss. Just one more reason to try out a new health and wellness app for some extra accountability.
4. Rethink, don’t sink.
Perspective is key — making healthy choices shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but more of making everyday incremental investments to be a better version of yourself. Instead of having the same routine for months straight, mix it up. Try a new exercise, mix up your sleep routine, or try adding daily meditation to your day to see what works for you. This will stimulate more progression and get you out of the plateau sooner.
If you dislike running, try substituting running for something that still keeps your heart going like swimming. If you dislike eating certain foods, try substituting those foods with other ones you like that offer the same nutrition. Your health journey is not a race to the finish line — remember that this journey is about learning and creating the best version of yourself.
Cultivating confidence and finding the reasons behind your goals will help motivate you through the journey. PennState Extension Educator Lynn James stated building confidence, praise, and support are key factors in motivating you to reach your health goals. Furthermore, take time to thank your body. Akin to health expert Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, shares that your body is working 24/7 to keep you alive; therefore, we should appreciate our body and hone in on practicing positive body image.
5. Pat yourself on the back: reward yourself.
Lastly, recognize that you are making strides and meeting milestones in your journey. For all the hard work you put in, you deserve to treat yourself! Through the Achievement app, you can connect and earn points for cash for your hard work! Woo-hoo! Our research team notes how incentives can help form habits. In this case, we want to reward you for the healthy actions you take to form healthy habits.
You can make a reward system that best suits your lifestyle, such as going to the movies or going out with your loved ones after completing your week’s workout. If you have been diligent in preparing your meals and enjoy making your own meals and drinks, use your Achievement reward to treat yourself to buying the nice blender that you wanted for your smoothies or slow cooker for your weekly meals. If you have been sticking to your exercise routine, use your rest day to spend some time hanging out with your family or friends and share your journey with them.
At Achievement, we strive to support you along your health journey and make it enjoyable. We hope that these key points and tips will give you the boost you needed to carry on and continue to progress. Was there something that we missed that made it on your motivator list? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!