When I meet with a client for the first time my job is find their motivation. So I always ask, "What drives you?" I can tell you absolutely that no two people are driven exactly the same.
The factors that trigger our desire for wellness are as individual as our fingerprints.
Is it health, vanity, our children, our spouse? A bet perhaps... or peer pressure to conform. Some of us are searching for the Fountain of Youth or we have a desire to fit into our skinny jeans again. Maybe it's the glitzy magazines and TV shows that serve up glamorous shots of celebrities with tiny waistlines and chiseled chests.
So ask yourself, what drives you to slim down and shape up?
Think it through. If you can't answer what honestly drives you then you have no connection to the process. What I mean is your process will become a chore because you're not really even sure why you are trying to get in better shape.
Being able to answer the question "what drives you?" commits you to the process. Slips and slides along the way won't be unrecoverable or doom your desire to improve your life.
Do any of these random thoughts sound familiar?
I need to get in shape... I need to lose weight... I can't eat this... I shouldn't eat that... walk faster... burn calories... gain muscle... oh boy, I ate a cookie... I need to skip the next three meals... oh nuts, I'll start tomorrow or next week... never mind -- I've messed it up so bad I'll just start next year...
Or how about...
I am so aggravated... I need a cookie or maybe a bag of chips... I am so bored, how about we grab an ice cream... I have no time so let me hit the drive-thru on the way home...
Truth is everyone starts a wellness program with the best of intentions.
But as we all know, it can take just one little thing -- something as small as one cookie or one bad day at work -- to throw us into a spin.
How we adapt to the spin is everything.
Life will never be without pitfalls. Work, family, children, friends, a lack of time, deadlines and disappointments -- they're all a natural part of life. How we adapt is vital to whether or not we continue with our intention to shape up and slim down.
Here is the best advice that I can give:
• Always remember what drives you! That motivation, once you can pinpoint it, will be the thing that keeps you coming back to the wellness path. Keep a constant reminder close at hand. It could be a photo of your kids, a note that you wrote to yourself, a clip from a magazine, or maybe a motivational quote. Make it something that speaks to you and your personal motivation.
• Regroup and move on! Yes, I said it. Savor that cookie and chew it slow. Relish that work day fight and move past the failed diet. Accept the mistake or a bad diet day and move on! Every minute is new and with it comes a new opportunity to start again.
• Accept success! I have always told my clients to stop looking at the big picture. Success comes in all sizes and shapes. Choosing to start a program is a success. Showing up to the session with the trainer, or your first walk around the block, the first time you make a healthier choice over the drive-thru -- they're all successes so own them and be proud of yourself. The big picture will come into focus eventually.
• Find the support! Always remember that no man (or woman) is an island! Being accountable to someone else, showing up for walks at lunch or going to the gym, meeting a nutritionist, or even making healthier choices for you whole family, can help pull you through the tough times. Everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- can use support when they run into a rough patch.
Alicia is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer and a Weight & Lifestyle Management consultant. The owner of Evolution Total Wellness in New York is also the author of "Oscar & Otis, Fat Fighters." For more information, visit OscarandOtis.com.