If this were a football game, we'd be nearing the end of the first quarter. That's when the coaches evaluate how the game is going, take a look at their game plan and make any necessary adjustments to make sure the team stays on the winning track.
So far, we seem to be winning! Although it's early in the game, the Daniel Plan (our game plan) appears to be working and the success stories are rolling in by the dozens. But for every success story I hear from someone who made great gains early on, but now they're beginning to struggle with staying dedicated to the program.
The body is adjusting to the new healthy lifestyle and the gains aren't happening as quickly as they did in the beginning. This is totally normal, but unfortunately it's the point you may start to lose your desire to stay with the program. As discouragement starts to set in, you may question whether the effort is worth the results you're seeing. We've come out of the blocks with great intentions and enthusiasm and we need to keep our eyes focused on the prize of better health and all the benefits that go with it. In a traditional quest for a healthier lifestyle, this is the point where many people start to drop off. Obstacles begin to appear and the battle gets tougher and tougher.
But this is no "traditional" approach to health. By adding the spiritual component, we've asked God to be our Head Coach and His game plan won't fail us!
The Difference between "Want" and "Desire"
I tell all the athletes I train that there is a difference between want and desire. Every athlete wants to be the best, but few have the burning desire to do whatever it takes and overcome any obstacle that may get in the way. At this point in the program, where's your "desire" level? We all want to be healthier, but do you still have that burning desire to finally get control of your health? Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to overcome the obstacles that may be getting in the way? Remember, this isn't a sprint. It's a marathon and this lifestyle commitment is an ongoing process. It may seem tough now, but once you break through these early trials, it gets easier and easier as you begin to see the results happen like you did in the beginning of the year.
Keep Your Motivation Levels High
So at this point in the game, how do you stay motivated towards reaching your goals? These simple exercises will help keep you on the right path:
Remember Your Starting Point
It's only been a few months, but people tend to forget how far they've already come. A friend of mine has lost 15 pounds but is now discouraged at the little progress she's made in the last couple weeks. During a recent workout, I handed her a 15 pound dumbbell and told her to carry it around for the rest of the session. When she asked why, I told her that's how much extra weight she was carrying around at the beginning of the year! "Wow, she said, that's a lot of weight!" No wonder her knees feet better and she has more energy at the end of the day. Don't forget those little battles you've won up to this point and the benefits you're feeling with each obstacle you've overcome. I would strongly suggest keeping a journal of this journey. When you're feeling discouraged you can go back and read about all the victories you've had along the way.
Most of us are driven by results and when the results start dropping off we get discouraged. We want all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and we want them NOW! Keep in mind how long you ignored your health. You can't expect years of damage to get turned around in a few months. The body will work with you to repair itself, but it's a process and this process takes time. Stay dedicated to the program and the results will come. Be patient!
Monitor Your Progress (but don't rely on just the scale!)
Keeping track of your progress is a great way to stay motivated. Tracking your bodyweight is important, but stepping on the scale may not be the best indicator of how well the program is working. Many people get discouraged when their body weight doesn't drop consistently. The reality is you should be dropping fat but adding muscle, so the body weight decreases more gradually. The best things to monitor are your energy levels, how your body feels (fewer aches and pains) and most noticeable, how your clothes fit. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people say they've only lost a few pounds, but their clothes are hanging on them or falling off!
Don't allow Satan to take from you what God desires you to have…joy and abundant life! So how do you maintain your focus on getting healthy? Keep your focus on God, on His Word and on His purpose for your life, just as you do for your spiritual health.