One of the hardest fitness challenges is when your motivation peaks - you’ve reached a major goal or milestone and your motivation to keep at it dwindles. After a few days of basking in the glory of your achievement, you start to think, “Now what??”
Goals and milestones are critical for long-term success, but there is no finish line. There is no pinnacle that once you reach it, you’ve hit a permanent “Miller Time”. But yet that’s how most of us approach our goals. I just ran the Boston Marathon last month and I’m now in the “Now What?” stage. I’m finding it hard to muster up the enthusiasm for another goal. If I don’t sign up for a race or set another goal soon, I’ll start to flounder and lose a lot of the good habits that I’ve maintained over the last few years. I'm at a Motivation Peak?!
It reminds me of a good friend that did the NutriSystem diet a few years ago. He lost almost 30 pounds, celebrated all summer, and gained 40+ pounds by Christmas?! When the pre-planned meals stopped, he just went back to his old eating habits and then some. The most critical step in our fitness plan is “Step 5: Set your new fitness goals”. Sounds simple, but without setting a target on the calendar, we can lose our resolve and easily slip back into our old bad habits again.
There’s nothing wrong with a celebrating your accomplishments. Especially when it’s a long-term goal or one that you’ve been working towards for several months or even years. But after you reward yourself, pick another goal. Sign up for a 5k. Enter a fitness event like the Susan Komen 3-day walk or a local ½ or full marathon. These events are fun and will give you something to focus on and train for. Looking back on some of my goals, I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: the training or the race. That great feeling after an early morning jog or a good gym workout could set my mood for the whole day!
So, if you find yourself in this post-achievement funk…sharpen your pencil, get out a new training log and write down your next goal. The joy is in the pursuit!
You can find this article and other motivational fitness information in the May 2008 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.