We have all been there. We set goals to lose weight, get stronger, get fitter, etc. We hit the gym hard but after a bit, life gets in the way and we stop, and the cycle starts over again.
It can be a frustrating process, especially if your goals seem impossible to achieve. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier as you strive to achieve your fitness goals.
Here are the 15 best ways to stay on course and smash your fitness goals no matter what they are.
1. Find a gym partner
This might be the most effective thing you can do. A partner will help keep you motivated, and seeing their progress and motivation will drive you to do the same. They will keep you accountable when you don't want to go to the gym or are not putting in the effort. It also helps mentally just knowing someone else is going through the same thing you are.
2. Form a fitness group
Like a gym partner, a fitness group keeps you accountable. This can be as easy as making a Facebook group and inviting your friends to join. Posting or talking about your progress will help keep you on track. Posting what you eat keeps you accountable because you don't want people to see that you're not sticking to healthy meals. Also, seeing other people's success can be a big motivator.
3. Enter a challenge
Entering a transformation challenge is a great way to start. In many cases putting your money down is enough motivation to keep going. Again, you will be around a bunch of people going through the same thing, so you'll feel motivated and not alone.
4. Make your workouts fun
This is simple: If you are not doing something you enjoy, odds are you will quit. If you hate running, don't run all the time. Find another way to get the job done in a way you like. Mix it up. Try swimming, biking, boot camp classes, etc.
RELATED: 4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting
5. Meal prep
How many times have you planned on a nice healthy dinner and by the end of the day you're starving, you're tired and you don't feel like cooking, so on your way home you grab some fast food? If you meal prep, all your meals will be ready to go. All you have to do is open it, warm it up and eat it. You can either prep for the whole week or do a half week at a time. I personally like to prep on Sundays then do it again around Wednesday so my food stays fresh. In addition, if I get tired of the same meals all week, I can always change them up when Wednesday comes around.
RELATED: How to Set Realistic Nutrition Goals
6. Follow a program
Sometimes all you need is to be told what to do. Take the guesswork out of everything, find a successful program and follow it. Your program can come from a trainer or you can download a reputable program. It will keep things simple and keep your training accountable.
7. Have a scheduled cheat meal
Have a cheat meal. If you know you'll get that pizza you've been craving on the weekend, it can make sticking to your diet plan easier during the week. I repeat, have a cheat meal! If you try to stay too strict for a long time, you will slip up. Instead of having a small cheat meal, it will turn into an all-day binge. So once a week have a cheat meal and eat anything you want.
8. Don't reward yourself with food
Making food a personal reward creates a mindset that makes you want it even more—even when you don't actually want it. Instead, treat yourself to a fun activity: Get a massage, visit with friends, etc. It can be anything you want—except food.
9. Set goals
It still blows my mind that people want to get better but don't actually set goals. That can lead to stalled progress and just spinning your wheels. If you don't know where you're going, how are you going to get there? Setting goals is a great way to stay on track! Set a bunch of goals, both small and large. Just make sure they are realistic, specific and measurable. Start with short-term goals that lead to bigger goals. If you start with a goal like losing 60 pounds this year, it can be pretty intimidating and overwhelming. If you start by trying to lose one pound each week, it doesn't seem so bad even though a pound a week ends up being 52 pounds per year.
10. Drink water
This is one of the biggest and easiest things you can do to improve your health. All you have to do is drink water. Aim for about a gallon a day. Your actual calculated water intake is influenced by your weight, your activity level, and the climate you live in. A gallon is a good goal for most people. Water makes up most of your body and is required for everything your body does. Here are a few tips to consume enough water throughout the day.
- Start early and keep consistency all day.
- Drink a lot during your workout. After each set take a drink of water. This will keep you hydrated and take a big chunk out of your intake.
- Carry a water bottle everywhere. Everywhere!
- Add some flavor (lemon juice, mio, etc.) if you need to, but keep it healthy.
- Just keep trying. You might not get it the first day, but it gets easier.
11. Don't go overboard
If you haven't lived a healthy lifestyle in 20 years and suddenly jump into doing two workouts a day, eating only kale salads and cutting out all bad habits, a few things may happen:
- You burn yourself out.
- You get injured.
- You give up.
Slow and steady wins the race. Healthy living is a long term proposition, and you need to be able to keep it up. Start with cutting out junk food and exercising, then build from there.
12. Just do it
Nike said it best: Just Do It. Excuses are easy to come by when something is hard. Don't make excuses. Go to the gym before work if that's the only time you can; meal prep so unhealthy food isn't as tempting; and don't even buy unhealthy food. Just find ways to make it happen. It gets easier the longer you go.
13. Eat before you go out
The occasion will come up when there will be a party or social gathering you want to go to. There's going to be cheat food everywhere! Dips, desserts, pizza, you name it. The best thing you can do is eat before you go. Sit down, eat your healthy meal and remind yourself why you're doing it so you won't give in to the temptations and have extra will power to say no and stay on track. If all else fails, plan the party to be your scheduled cheat meal.
14. Work out with a purpose
Sign up for a competition to give yourself something to work for. It can be your first 5K, a triathlon, a physique competition, a lifting competition, whatever floats your boat. Just pick something to keep yourself accountable. Knowing that your competition is coming up could be the determining factor on getting your workout in even when you don't want to.
15. Results are not always physical
Weight loss and muscle gain take time, and you might not see results right away. Results are not always physical. Sometimes you have to ask yourself how you're feeling today. Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better? Digestive issues no longer a problem? Have you reduced your medication? Results are results even if the scale and mirror don't show them. Stay the course. It pays off!
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock