We’ve all been there before…a few weeks or couple of months into a new workout program (or starting one for the first time) and you’re less than stoked to hear that 5 AM alarm clock go off for the gym or make “another” meal of chicken and veggies (insert eye roll here, right, ladies?) for dinner. It’s happened to me before and from comments on social media, I know it’s happened (or is happening) to you, too. We put in the effort and (rightly) want the results, but what happens when the results stall or aren’t happening as quickly as we’d like? How do we stay motivated or reignite that fire for achieving our goals?

– First off, stop for a sec and think really hard about why you started your fitness journey in the first place. What prompted you to join the gym, want to make healthier choices with food and more? Was it for an increase an energy, to lose weight, gain strength, confidence, counting down to a special event? Whatever the initial reason, I’ve found by reflecting on why I started in the first place (for example, jotting down my initial feelings about working on my fitness, main goals, how I felt by committing myself to the goal, how important it is to achieve that goal or stay focused, etc.) I’m instantly reminded of what prompted me to want to make a change AND reminded of what it all truly means to me. If you started out because you wanted more energy, to become stronger, live a healthier life, then remind yourself that every healthy choice you make each day is getting you one step closer to that goal.

– If you haven’t already, ditch the scale. Yes, I said it, now get rid of it or stop weighing yourself daily and switch to every couple of weeks. You’ve probably heard this before, but I’m going to give you this friendly reminder…the scale is NOT a direct reflection of our efforts. There are so many variables that factor in to why we weigh what we weigh from one day to the next, so if you are focused on that number on the scale, just please do yourself a favor, take a deep breath and step back from the scale for a bit. I have friends that drive themselves crazy being so obsessive about that number, complaining to me that they weigh one thing in the AM and then that night they’re up a few pounds. Yes, of course you are…you’ve had an entire day to eat food, drink fluids, be on your feet, workout, hold on to water for a variety of reasons and more. All of this (and so much more) can contribute to what you may be interpreting as weight gain/lack of results. You didn’t gain three pounds of fat throughout the course of the day. Please relax and let’s move on to some more productive ways to keep track of your results!

So…you’ve ditched the scale, now how do we chart our results?

– Look for results aside from those staring back at you in the mirror. Let’s face it…we see ourselves daily- after all, isn’t this how excess body fat or unwanted weight seemingly “creeps” up on us? We get so accustomed to seeing ourselves day in and day out that we are often the last to notice a change (for better or worse) when it comes to our appearance. Now, I realize this may not always be the case, so hear me out: glancing in the mirror throughout the day is one thing, but seeing ourselves in a photo (hello progress pics!) next to a photo of ourselves a week or two later can help spark some serious motivation. When we first start out, changes occur but are often in the small details, not the major things that are super noticeable with just a quick glance. Don’t let a glance in the mirror deter you when you’ve been consistent with your efforts.

– Progress pics! No, don’t worry, I don’t expect you to take these shots of you in your bikini and then blast them all over social media (of course if you’d like to, then go right on ahead or if you think this will help hold you more accountable to your actions/goals, then do it, but you can also take these pics and keep them just for your records), but taking these as “starting point” pictures and then taking them weekly or every 10 days is going to be really important throughout your fitness journey. My recommendation? Keep it simple and throw on your favorite bikini and make that your “progress picture outfit” for Day 1 and the progress pics to come. Take front, side and rear facing photos. Save these, as these will be your DAY 1 images that you’ll put side by side future progress pictures. As with everything, consistency is key, so please keep in mind that whenever you do take progress pics, throw on that same bikini and take the pictures in the same room/lighting that you did before. This little detail will help to ensure that changes will be even more evident from one week to the next.

– Now, brace yourselves as I may be contradicting myself a bit here, because while I do think that progress pictures are an important part of the motivation equation, I don’t think they’re everything when it comes to charting your results. Not even close. I’m not going to try and pretend that most of us don’t have certain physical appearance goals as related to our workouts, but let’s pause on that for a sec. Instead, let’s focus on other things as well, such as performance based goals. Have you always wanted to rep out 5 full pull-ups or run a mile in under 10 minutes? Make that one of your goals. Are you wanting to increase your endurance, stamina, agility, and overall strength? Well let’s jot that down as some of your main goals, too! Every bit counts, so if it comes to “I simply want my clothing to fit better and to have more energy each day” then so be it- list that down on your goals sheet, too. The focus around this is shifting your mindset from “I want to shed ‘X’ amount of pounds this week” to something that is a challenge you can conquer each and every day during a workout. By setting performance based goals such as the examples listed above, you’re able to challenge yourself and be awarded with results in some way or another in every workout. When I’m working out, if I’m able to push myself for an extra minute at a higher level on the step mill than I did the day or week before, that’s a form of progress. I’m earning results each and every week with that increase in my endurance, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to see such an improvement in how my body performs from one workout to the next.

So you’ve been kicking butt with your training and all of those performance based goals, right? SURPRISE…

– The funny thing about taking the pressure off yourself to “see” all of the results right away is that once we focus on performance, function, having fun with our fitness and more, we will reap the benefits of the performance based goals AND you’ll notice a difference in your physique, too. After all, you can’t very well push more weight, run faster, jump higher or hold that yoga pose longer without your body changing in one way or another. Stronger (and tighter) quads, core, arms- you name it, but all of these will be additional benefits to hitting your performance based goals. What a novel way to think about things, right? Once you’ve removed the pressure of wanting your workouts to make you “look” a certain way and instead focus on performing a certain way, you’ll be achieving results all around with less stress and a heck of a lot more fun.

– Switch it up! Change your environment, scenery (take your next workout outside to a local park or power walk/jog around your neighborhood instead of hitting the treadmill), gym…we can all fall into a workout rut from time to time, so check yourself to make sure that’s not what’s going on with you. In years past I’d dread going to the gym, but only because I was stuck in a workout rut, going through the motions from one workout to the next, never varying up the type of cardio or weight training exercises I’d do. Geez, no wonder I’d lost some motivation and wasn’t seeing any results! I WAS SO BORED! I never want you workin’ on your fitness to be something that you dread, so challenge yourself to try something new. From fitness class passes, week trials at another gym or boot camp spot, Groupon for an intro month (this is actually how I got hooked on hot yoga! My first week was under $10 for unlimited classes, so I figured why not, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since!) sometimes all it takes is you trying something new or going to a new workout spot to help reignite your interest and passion for your workouts.