Dear JJ: Starting a diet on a new year always feels exciting and fun, but by mid-January I become bored and burned out, Debbie Downers start to drag me down, and I struggle to maintain my hard work. I'm determined to do better this coming year. Can you give me some advice to stay the course?
As you embark on and maintain a fat loss plan, naysayers and doubters will probably try to drag you down. You probably have them among your family and friends. Maybe you've got that one special nightmare who tells you that weight gain is unavoidable, that your metabolism slows as you get older, that you shouldn't even dream of fitting into those jeans from high school.
The truth is, you can be the best you've ever been in your life at any point in your life if you make the decision and focus on what you need to do to get there.
I want you to get inspired. Set some goals that will stretch you and motivate you. You need goals that will get you excited enough to get off the couch and do what you need to do. You need to build a case for why you need to maintain your plan.
Define what fast, lasting fat loss means for you. Does it mean great energy in the afternoon? Does it mean wearing a bikini at the beach and not feeing self-conscious? Does it mean going to your high school reunion and feeling like you're a rock star? Does it involve playing sports with your kids?
One thing that inspires me: When I take my teenage sons to the gym, they can't even keep up with their 50-something-year-old mom.
Do you want to be able to zip up anything in your closet, have no cravings, get rid of headaches, rarely get sick, and have great energy? What goals would make it worth it for you to totally take on a plan and stick with it?
Make a checklist. List your top three goals for sticking with your plan. Write them down.
I want you to look at your checklist and see what success looks like for you. Is it being a size eight? Is it great energy? Is it no headaches? Is it to stop getting sick or stop having joint pain? Is it to lose the cravings?
Next, make a list of your top three costs. What does it cost you if you don't do this plan? Where are you right now? What's not working?
Here's the reality: Unless you make a change, your life won't get any better. You don't get better unless you do better. You don't get better if you don't change. Imagine if this is as good as it gets. Imagine shifting from normal to fabulous.
What opportunities will you miss out on by not taking action? What do you sacrifice with your career, your relationships, your happiness, and your health?
Figure out what motivates you most. Some people become motivated by pleasure. Most people are more motivated by avoiding pain. It might be the pain of hurting all the time, not being able to think straight, being tired, or not being able to do the things you really want to do because the wrong foods are creating inflammation and getting in your way.
Whatever your costs are, know that if you don't maintain a plan, food will take you down.
Find inspiration in others. Hang out with folks who make health a top priority. Join a support group. You might use a tracking app. One study found those who wrote everything down lost twice the weight of those who didn't.
If you see it, you'll believe it. What would you look like if you were your ideal weight? Maybe that means finding a photo of your ideal body.
When I worked one-on-one, I had clients Photoshop or copy-and-paste their head onto the body they wanted. They made copies of this new person and put it in places they needed motivation and support.
If you can see what you look like at your ideal weight, then you will start to live like a healthy, lean person. Think of that picture as your defender, your reminder, and your support system.
Unlike that initial momentum, maintaining a program isn't easy. You'll probably feel like giving up when you're having a crappy day or at your bestie's birthday when that cake seems irresistible.
When those moments strike (and they will), when you need motivation and inspiration, remember your top three goals. Why are you doing this? So you can have the relationship of your dreams and not feel self-conscious naked? So that you can play with your kids? What are those three things? Write them down and carry them around with you. Carry that picture, too. You need to see it to believe it.
I want you to think, If not now, when? When is tomorrow going to happen? Don't you deserve for it to happen now? You have to say, "I'm ready to do this plan. I'm ready to commit. I'm all in."
You can't be a little in on a program, but if you find an intelligent, well-designed plan, commit 100 percent, keep your goals and inspirations nearby, and stay the course, good things will happen.
What's your big stretch goal for 2016? Share it below. And keep those great questions coming at AskJJ@jjvirgin.com. Happy New Year to my readers, and thanks for being so loyal.