Every once in awhile we decide we want to change something in our lifestyle. These “moments of truth”, or “reality checks” if you prefer, often happen in the first few days of January, year after year. Ever wonder what people’s Top 3 good resolutions are? We attempted to understand why many people find themselves lacking motivation to reach those goals after some time.
New Year’s Resolutions
According to About.com, the number one New Year’s Resolution is to “spend more time with family and friends”, closely followed by “starting to exercise regularly” and “loosing weight”. Let’s look more closely at these two converging health-oriented aims. We all appreciate that regular exercise is one of the key elements of a healthy lifestyle, and that becomes even more prominent if you want to shake off a few pounds.
Why is it hard to stay focused?
We see three obvious reasons:
- Eating feels good – that’s why we often indulge in food, especially if it’s sweet and/or fat,
- Exercising is tiring especially if you haven’t done any sport since high school,
- Your level of motivation shifts depending on your mood and the temptations (passing by a cupcake bakery; buying a new video game; accepting an invitation to go out for some drinks…).
Note: eating and exercising have one thing in common – the release of endorphins that give you the sensation of pleasure (and so does sex by the way!).
When embarking on a self-coaching quest to loose weight and/or to get fit, you usually start off with an honest desire and, as days go by, you lose will. Of course some persons succeed and reach their goals, but for most of us it’s not that easy.
“Time heals all”, even your motivation
As the initial impulse wears off, you end up resuming your bad habits in a relapse kind of cycle. You binge on the very foods you had decided to ban from your diet. You brush off the idea of exercising with gradually less remorse. You give up more easily as time goes by. Even though this process of failure doesn’t unroll at the same pace for everyone, the path of renunciation is a well-known track many of us have already been on.
Why do we loose our motivation?
Each person’s “New Year’s Weight Loss / Fitness Resolution” is different, and is set in a particular context. Still, we see two general reasons:
- Trying too hard: the rules and conditions we impose ourselves to reach our goal are often too harsh (or they feel harsher after some time). A soft self-coaching approach is preferable,
- Getting lost halfway: keeping track of how much you weight or how much exercise you do is a key information that helps you assess where you are on your “quest”. But saving the data on a daily basis can be a hassle: weighting yourself and then writing down the value… Going for a run and then writing down how many miles you’ve traveled… May it be on a paper or a spreadsheet: it’s a chore.
How can you spare your motivation?
Without the regular recording of reliable data you can not establish a time chart. And without a history, you slowly but surely loose the significance of your quest. You are then more likely to believe that you are too hard on yourself and to give in to your sweet-tooth and couch-potato demons. Having access to the info empowers you, and makes it easier to stay motivated.
Subsequently, to have the most chances to reach your goals, you should:
- Track your metrics regularly (preferably on a daily basis),
- Use the most simple way to do so,
- Turn the resulting data into easy-to-understand charts,
- Draw an average line to highlight the trend your weight and/or physical condition is following.
Note: levelling the peaks and troughs on the graph also eliminates the unnecessary stress created by the emotional roller-coaster that a lifestyle change implies. Check out this recent video of Lisa Betts-LaCroix at the Quantified Self Silicon Valley Meetup #3 at Stanford Business (“Tales of Weight Tracking”).
Body data tracking devices can do all of that: that’s why they are more an more popular everyday. They do the job seamlessly and therefor help you care more for what you care about.
Another good news is that you don’t have to wait until January 2012 to launch the lifestyle change you promised yourself.
Click here to see all the smart body tracking solutions we have developed and that could empower you.