Aside from having a lack of time, a lack of motivation is one of the biggest roadblocks most people experience when it comes to staying consistent with healthy eating and exercise. Few things provide a bigger blow to one’s motivation than plateauing, or putting in hard work and not seeing results. Here are 5 ways to stay motivated, even when you don’t see results.
Assess your expectations
First things first – we need to make sure we are setting realistic expectations. Is it realistic to want to lose 10 pounds in two weeks? If you have only practiced doing pull-ups once every two weeks, is it realistic to expect to bust out reps after only a month? If you’ve eaten one “clean” meal is it realistic to expect a six pack the next day?
Those examples are a little extreme, but often times our biggest disappointments come from having unrealistic expectations. Ultimately, we want to make sure we aren’t placing unrealistic expectations on our bodies. Can you become stronger, healthier and more fit? Absolutely. Can you change your bone structure and genetics? No, and that’s ok. Set goals that work with your body, not against your body. Setting the right goals that can be achieved through realistic action are far easier to reach, and are more motivating than unrealistic goals.
If you feel like you aren’t “seeing results” a good first step would be to assess what “results” you’re looking for. I would be willing to bet if you are putting the time and effort in to improve your habits, you are seeing results, you just may not be looking for them.
Change your routine
If you have experienced a fitness or weight loss journey, you are probably familiar with the dreaded plateau. Maybe things were going great for awhile, and the scale got totally stuck. Or maybe you have been on a long-term weight loss journey but the last five pounds just won’t budge. Hitting a plateau is often a tell-tale sign that it’s time to change your routine. If you have hit a plateau, take a look at your daily behaviors. Have you been doing the exact same workouts over and over, without adding any variety or added resistance? Time to switch it up, sister.
Take a break from the scale
Speaking of weight-loss plateau – just put the scale away. First of all, as women, it is normal for our body weight to fluctuate quite a bit throughout the month (if you know what I’m saying). Second of all, obsessing over your weight will not do you any favors. While weight loss can be an effective measure of progress depending on your goals (and if you actually have weight to lose), it is not an effective tool for measuring body composition changes (you can lean out and have the scale go up) and overall fitness.
I have a client who has lost eleven inches by doing the workouts I’ve given for the past month. However, she has been disappointed because the scale hasn’t moved much. But she’s lost ELEVEN inches. So instead of focusing on the scale, I’m encouraging her to celebrate the incredible gains in strength and loss of body fat.
If you have been following the same routine for an amount of time and not seeing changes, it’s a good time to take a break from the scale. Try focusing on performance-based goals to refocus and motivate you when the scale isn’t moving.
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Record your progress
One of my favorite inspirational quotes is “only look back to see how far you’ve come.” Such a good quote, right? You take small steps towards progress every single day, and sometimes it can be hard to tell without recording it. So take check-in photos of yourself, record how heavy of weights you’re using (and take note when you increase them!) and take note of performance-based changes such as doing push-ups on your toes or holding a plank for longer. All of these are examples of seeing major progress in the area of strength, and should absolutely be celebrated!
Set new goals
Last but certainly not least, sometimes you need to overhaul your goals and be willing to make a change. Just because something “worked for you before” doesn’t mean it will continue to work, and that’s ok. Honestly, it is to be expected. Our bodies are constantly changing and need new stimuli and training methods to continue getting stronger. Our nutritional needs also vary greatly depending on our stress levels, the season, where we are at in our cycle and factoring any medical conditions we are dealing with. So don’t be so married to the method. An effective personal wellness journey largely relies on variety and experimentation, and your goals should as well.
- Have you experienced busting through a plateau?
- How do you stay motivated when you don’t see immediate results?
Les is the founder of Balanced Black Girl and the host of the Balanced Black Girl Podcast. She’s a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and natural beauty junkie who loves 90’s R&B, trying new skincare products, and creating recipes in the Instant Pot. She created Balanced Black Girl to provide content and experiences empowering women of color to live well.