How many times have you ever gone into a week with the best of intentions, and then it just all falls apart?
You tell yourself, “I am going to ride 6 times this week!”
Or, you say, “I am going to eat lots of salads, never overeat, stay away from junk food and fast food, and only eat to fuel great for all of my rides!”
You even might get SUPER AMBITIOUS and say, “I am going to ride 6 times this week, eat tons of vegetables, avoid all the beer and wine, make all my meals at home, do strength training and yoga this week, and it’s going to be freaking awesome!”
And then, how many times have you watched your good intentions, one by one, fly right out the window?
I think that all of us, at one point in time, have had this happen.
We have gone all in on a week, a month, a year (New Year’s resolutions baby!) only to find that we just can’t keep up.
Then, instead of realizing that you are trying to do too much all at once, you find those crappy thoughts creeping in.
You know, the ones where you talk to yourself like a complete jerk. Where you start to think, “Well, here we go again. I knew I couldn’t do this. Yup. I knew I was going to screw it all up again.”
Or you think, “Why can’t I just keep it together like everyone else? Why don’t I have the discipline to actually get stronger on the bike?”
You might think, “I thought I would finally lose weight when I started cycling, and yet here I am, again, not getting on the bike. Nothing I am eating is right. I am not doing anything right, and I am gaining weight.”
Been there. 100%. And, if I had to guess, if you are reading this? So have you.
Do you ever wonder why we do this to ourselves? Why you find yourself caught in this cycle of big plans and great intentions…only to find them all come crashing down with you sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, and watching Netflix?
I mean, not that any of that is necessarily bad, per se, but it certainly isn’t lining up with your goals! Netflix, ice cream, and couch certainly have their time and place for sure.
At the end of the day, though, if you find yourself in this loop of good intentions and not following through, I have news for you.
There is NOTHING wrong with you.
You are not broken.
Nothing has gone wrong.
At the end of the day, the only problem is that instead of setting yourself up for success, you set yourself up to fail.
You created unrealistic expectations for yourself, and of course you weren’t able to follow through!
And that’s OK.
In this article I will offer you a better way. A simpler way.
I will share a way that works, and will set you up for success by creating doable, meaningful change. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
Step #1: Start Small and Choose One, Doable Thing
When we tell ourselves we are going to buckle down, get serious, and do it all starting NOW?
We are simply acting from sheer willpower.
It feels restrictive, and it feels bad. Like we have to keep it all going or we are going to fail.
And when we do fail (which we inevitably do because we are human!) in a day, a week, or even a couple months, we feel even worse.
YOU are not the problem. The problem isn’t you, it’s that you weren’t setting yourself up for success! In actuality, you were setting yourself up to fail.
What if, instead of changing everything, all at once, you gave yourself one small thing you can start focusing on tomorrow that will move the needle in the right direction?
So if, for example, you know you want to get on your bike more consistently, you decide that starting tomorrow you will ride your bike twice a week.
Or, if you want to be more mindful about fueling your body and hydrating, you decide you are going to get in your 64 oz of water starting tomorrow.
Say you go through the drive thru a couple times a week and you want to eat more meals at home? Decide that you will only get fast food once a week.
This change that you make can be as simple as putting your ice cream or chips into a bowl each day instead of eating it right out of the carton/bag.
Start small. Pick a doable thing. An easy thing. Leave the hard stuff for later. We will get to it, I promise, but you need to get yourself to actually trust that you can do this. First, you need to believe it is possible.
That means setting yourself up for success by picking something you know you can achieve.
Step #2: Make a Plan and Write it Down
I cannot tell you how many times I have told my clients that you don’t need a diet to lose weight as a female cyclist, you just need a plan.
Once you have decided the one small thing that you want to change you need to make a plan.
What specifically are you going to do to make the change? When is this change going to take place? How are you going to make this change?
Brainstorm what you can do, brainstorm any obstacles and how to overcome them, make a plan, and write that shiz down.
So, for example, if you are going to ride twice a week starting tomorrow, decide which days/times this week you are going to ride. Write it down in your calendar. Doesn’t matter if it is a physical calendar or a google calendar…just put it in there on a certain day/time!
Brainstorm obstacles…who or what might get in the way of your plan? Motivation? Work? Family plans? Write these down.
Then…brainstorm how to overcome these obstacles. Maybe you have a backup time to ride that day. Maybe you have a backup DAY to ride. Put that in your calendar too!
It is so much harder to ignore a commitment to yourself when you have set a day and time to fulfill it.
If it is something that you are planning to do every day, like put your snack or dessert into a bowl, then make sure that you write it down too. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in a calendar since it’s a daily thing anyway, but you can write it in your journal! Or put a little post it on the bag of chips/carton of ice cream that says “Get a bowl!”
Feel free to be creative with this and have fun with it. Things that are fun are so much easier to do and follow through with.
Step #3: Tell Someone Your Plan
A little bit of accountability can go a long way.
Let someone, anyone, know what you are planning to do.
Even if they don’t actually check in with you to see if you followed through, you know that they might, and oftentimes that’s enough.
Just putting it out there in the universe and not keeping it to yourself makes it so much more real. Sometimes this can feel a little scary or uncomfortable, but it’s an amazing way to let yourself and the world know that you are serious about your plans.
Tell a girlfriend. Tell your mom. Tell your spouse. Tell your accountability group if you have one!
For example, when you join The Weight Loss for Female Cyclists Program we have a private Facebook community that is perfect for this. Or you can also just email me at [email protected]. I am more than happy to be your accountability buddy!
Also, if it’s something you need time for, like a ride, it can let others in your life know that you are going to be unavailable at that time.
If your family is sometimes an obstacle to getting your rides in, letting them know when you are riding in advance can not only give you accountability, but also give you the freedom to get that ride done!
Step #4 Ask Yourself How It’s Going and Make Adjustments if Needed
Once we get the ball rolling on a new habit, we need to check in with ourselves periodically and see how it’s going.
Are we following through? Do we perhaps need to modify the plan? Be sure to check in with yourself!
I like to do this weekly with my plans and my goals. I like to check my progress, see how it’s going. If it’s not going well, then I spend some time brainstorming how I can set myself up for success in the next week.
I ask myself if I am trying to do too much, and if my expectations are reasonable. If they are reasonable, then I ask myself what’s getting in the way.
Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s life. Sometimes it’s my family. Sometimes it’s just me and my lack of motivation.
I remind myself that it doesn’t help to beat myself up. That putting myself down just isn’t useful.
It isn’t useful for you, either. Ask yourself how you can set yourself up for success next week. Make it doable and manageable.
If you planned 5 rides this week and only rode once, maybe next week you plan 2 rides. You are playing the long game here, and you want to make sure that you are being kind to yourself throughout this process.
Intentionally figure out how to give yourself the tools you need to succeed. Be flexible, and modify and adjust your expectations as needed.
Step #5: Celebrate Success and Keep the Momentum Going by Choosing the Next Doable Thing
Once you have that new habit on lock, it’s time to keep the momentum going and choose the next thing!
So, for example, if you have been able to make a meal plan each day, and that is now a habit, you might want to start looking at that meal plan and seeing if there is one thing you can do to fuel your body better.
Maybe you want to work in your post-ride recovery protein. Maybe you realize that you don’t actually need that afternoon snack. You aren’t hungry for it, but it has become a habit to always have it.
Alternatively, maybe you are regularly riding twice a week, and you want to up it to three times a week.
Or, maybe you have neglected your strength training, and you want to build in one core workout a week.
The possibilities here are endless, but the idea is to make this next step doable and manageable, just like the first.
You will find over time that what becomes doable and manageable for you is greater and will yield even better results.
The idea behind this is to build habits that actually give you the opportunity to build up to this level of success.
For example, after a whole year of eating kielbasa for breakfast I swapped the kielbasa out for chicken sausage. I leveled up my food and now regularly make a healthier choice, but only after eating kielbasa every day for an entire year.
Now I am starting to take a hard look at my afternoon snack and am starting to realize I might only actually need it when I am fueling for a ride or the day after a hard ride. Again, this is after intentionally having three years of an afternoon snack every, single day.
You might be thinking that you don’t want to wait. That you want big results now. That you need to cut out a lot more in order to see the kind of progress you want to see.
I am telling you that you want this progress to be sustainable. That you don’t want to ride so much that you lose your desire to get on the bike. That you don’t want to restrict your food so much that you say eff it and eat everything in sight.
By making these small, doable changes a few years ago, they led to huge results for me over time. We are playing the long game, my friends. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a century, not a time trial!
Don’t make any changes that you aren’t willing to do forever. Make changes that feel good. That you can handle. That you are happy to do for the rest of your life.
A Final Note…
I have always been a mega fan of goals.
Big goals. HUGE goals.
Sometimes we just need to set ourselves up for success and get some momentum going so we can really focus on achieving those goals.
The goal can sometimes feel so overwhelming. Like my goal a couple years ago to lose 50 pounds.
We don’t know where to begin, or what to do first, and so we get anxious and try to do it all at once.
Soon we realize that’s not possible, and we give up.
I took that goal, broke it into small, doable things I could do each day, and after a little over a year I lost almost 50 pounds.
I didn’t give up.
I don’t want you to give up, and I know that you don’t want to, either.
Start small. Build momentum. Change your habits slowly, change one thing at a time.
Before you know it, you will be making measurable progress towards that huge goal, no matter what the goal is.
And, instead of beating yourself up and talking to yourself like a jerk? You will say to yourself, “I’m amazing. I’ve got this. I was made for this.”
You can absolutely do this, my friend. I believe in you. No go out there and set yourself up for success!