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Where's your New Years Motivation?

January is a great time for a Personal Trainer. It's usually the time of year where the highest percentage of people are interested in their health and fitness. And, let's be honest, losing weight. It's a great time for holidaymakers too and they both go hand in hand. People want to lose weight and their summer sun holidays can be a motivation. 

And that's great. There's nothing wrong with that. My own ethos for training is to work on fitness, strength and movement and the rest will follow. But that doesn't sell as well.

What does happen to a lot of people is that their programme is primarily focused on their weight rather than how they feel or their measurements. So they're on their restricted diet for the first week and they lose 5lbs, let's say. Fantastic. Week 2 rolls around (this week for a lot of us) and people expect to see the same reduction. They stick to the diet. Work twice as hard in the gym because they know what worked from the previous week. And then they get demotivated at the end of the week when all their hard work goes unnoticed by the number on the scales. 

It happens all the time. If you're in a big gym, you'll notice the drop off is coming in the numbers. People feel hard done by. And their training drops. And soon the New Years Resolutions are a distant memory as old habits creep back in. 80% of New Years Resolutions fail by February

And the problem is simple. The programmes they are being sold which lead to their mentality to training is focusing on the wrong thing. It's all about the number on the scales. And the programmes may even have the opposite effect in the short term. 

If you are strength training, for example, you may actually see an increase in weight on the scales.

"It is important to stress that when you start exercising, you may increase body weight due to increased muscle mass," Wedell-Neergaard says. "So, in addition to measuring your overall body weight, it would be useful, and maybe more important, to measure waist circumference to keep track of the loss of visceral fat mass and to stay motivated."

Forget the scales. It's nice for the end of a 4-6 week term. But for weekly? Forget it. You're going to yo-yo on your numbers and there are far too many factors that can impact that number at any given time, including:

1. You may have eaten more carbs/salty food and are holding onto water short term.
2. You could be having a tough time at work or at home and are more stressed which can mess with your hormones and lead to a retention of water. 
3. You could have had a hard training session and your body is trying to take in all the nutrients to repair. Think of this as your muscles soaking up the nutrients like a sponge. It's not fat on the scales. 
4. Could be time for number 2... not number 2 on the list.
5. There's very little chance, even if you weigh yourself at the exact same time as the week before that your day before was the exact same in terms of what your activity levels were like and what you ate and when you ate it.  

On top of all those facts above, your body loses a lot during the first week due to the decreased amount of calories it had in comparison to what the body was used to over Christmas. After the first week, your body adapts. And that is when you need to challenge yourself further. Losing body fat the first week is the easy part. Maintaining the loss, building good habits and setting yourself up for true long term sustainability is where the challenge lies. 

And that's why I prefer to work on fitness, strength and mobility. You feel better during the process. Done right, you can see and feel the results each week. And the fat loss will follow suit if you are challenging yourself and working hard in each session and keeping your diet on point for at least 80% of the time (100% is just not possible, life always gets in the way). Set your short term goals around getting fitter and increasing your strength in the gym. This does not mean you'll get big and bulky. Trust me, it's not that easy to put on muscle size, especially if you are female, or my #10YearChallenge would have looked more like: 

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I know, I know... you can't believe I'm not wearing Jordans in the picture.