Your long-term success when trying to lose fat or achieve your goal is entirely dependent on the consistency of your overall fitness plan.
As the saying goes, the most effective diet is the one you can stick to. I’m a firm believer that if you can’t see yourself on some variation of your current diet in 1, 3 or even 5 years you’ve got no chance of long-term success.
I understand the importance of consistency and implement it into all my plans with the result that we’ve successfully helped thousands of elite coaching clients and members of the 90 Day Bikini plan to not only lose weight but keep it off in the long term.
In this article, I’ll lay out some key guidelines that can help you stay consistent and motivated in the gym and kitchen to ensure your success extends much further than beach season.
If you care about your long-term goals and are fed up of the yo-yo dieting trap or restrictive dieting this one is a must read!
Define Your Short- and Long-term Goals
One of the best ways to ensure consistency is to define both your short- and long-term goals then review them on a regular basis.
Too often, people just go into the gym or start to follow a slightly improved diet, without actually defining what exactly it is they hope to get out of it. This unfortunately is a recipe for spinning your wheels and risking abandoning the change altogether.
Numerous studies have shown you will be up to 500% more successful if you simply write down and review both your short- and long-term goals on a regular basis.
If you are spending hours in the gym and being strict with your meals but are not goal setting and reviewing those goals, you are doing yourself a disservice. It sounds simple, but it’s one of the most no-brainer decisions you can make to help yourself be more successful!
Along with goal setting, specificity is also vital and this then applies into your training/diet, ensuring you are actually on track and using the best all-round approach to meet your goals.
For example, if you’re looking to gain strength vs fat loss or muscle growth, you’ll need to train and eat with different methods and techniques. Thus, you should set your primary goal and use it to define the best tactics and program to get you there.
Additionally, these large, long-term goals can often come with a commitment that seems a lifetime away. Because of this, it’s often difficult to stick with it even on a weekly basis and therefore makes short-term goals vital.
Consequently, you must set the long-term goal and then break it down into segments; for example, if you plan to lose 50lb in 10 months you may want to set 5 mini 2 month goals to lose 10lb, equating to the full 50lb over 10 months.
Doing so will keep you accountable while providing you with motivational success along the way. If you haven’t already, stop right now and write down both your long-term and short-term goals on paper. Then, duplicate this and put that piece of paper on your fridge, in your bedroom, in your car and at work.
Monitor Your Progress Regularly
Along the lines of having short-term goals, a major issue I often see is that individuals fail to monitor their body composition changes.
This could include progress photos, measurements, body fat assessments, scale weight or lab tests. Although all of these methods individually have pros and cons, combined they can be great for added motivation and keeping you consistent when you may be doubting the process or commitment.
In all my plans and with my personal coaching clients I recommend bi-weekly (every 2 weeks) check-ins and measurements. This includes several measurement points around the body and legs, photos and scales. Using only a tape measure, camera and set of scales anyone can do this at home.
By checking every 2 weeks you allow enough time to see results but also can make quick changes if things are not going correctly.
Because it is often hard to see progress as we see ourselves every day, these measurements should help you stay motivated – when we look back at photos or measurements every 2 weeks we can then often see a noticeable improvements.
Here’s what I recommend you do every 2 weeks:
always taken first thing in the AM.
- Stomach Circumference
- Hip Circumference
- Right Leg Circumference
- Bum Circumference
- Right Arm Circumference
- Chest Circumference
- Scale Weight
- Front, Side & Rear photos
Track Your Nutrition
Tracking your nutrition is a controversial subject, but if you want long-term success I suggest tracking your nutrition at least 80% of the time, or until you create an easy habit and meal plan you follow on autopilot.
For example, you can track 80% on a daily or weekly basis, while giving yourself some leeway 20% of the time for ‘bad’ food or foods that wouldn’t normally be included.
Alternatively, you can track for the first few weeks until you get into an easy and sustainable routine then reduce the need to track as long as your measurements and progress are still on target.
Nutrition is a major factor in progressing and having long-term success with your physique. Tracking your intake allows you to remain accountable in addition to ensuring that you’re eating as little or as much food as required by your primary goal.
Without tracking your food intake you’re literally just hoping for the best and not gathering critical data that you can use in future if you start to plateau or need to make changes.
While some people do get great results without tracking, this tends to be because they do an amazing job of eliminating bad food and just eating single ingredient foods in moderation. Even then, I think tracking initially can be a great educational experience for most.
Learn more about counting calories, macros and tracking in this blog post.
Track Your Training
In exactly the same way as with nutrition, I suggest tracking your training progress.
The use of a small notebook or a note based app on your phone to track your workouts will provide an extremely valuable tool for your progress.
This adds motivation, especially if the fat loss is slowing down. Remember, progress can come in many ways, from numbers on the scale, to inches around the waist or amount of reps on your squat.
Although tracking all your weights can be hard if you do Metabolic Resistance Training like I recommend in my plans, you could at least do it on a few core lifts such as squat, bench, deadlift, RDL, hip extensions, pull ups etc.
Ensuring you are always moving forward with weight, reps and sets is imperative for getting stronger, adding muscle, dropping fat or doing all 3. Finally, having the structure makes sure you also give 100% effort each time and don’t leave early or drop off near the end of your workout.
Try tracking your workouts (just make sure it doesn’t alter or impair your rest periods). If you are doing workouts with short rest or dislike tracking (like I do) simply just monitor a few core lifts or exercises, maybe the first 1 or 2 big exercises at the start.
Regularly Re-evaluate Your Goals
Even though you’ve defined your long-term goals, sometimes your preferences change and you shouldn’t be scared to edit those goals if it adds motivation.
I suggest that, every couple of months when reviewing your short-term goals, you sit down and think about whether or not your ultimate goals are the same as when you began. For most, it often changes as they progress or, at the very least, it may expand.
For example, at first you may have just wanted to lose 50 lb. But, 2 months in, you now love running and squats, therefore you’d add a goal to run 5k and also squat 100 lb for 10 reps.
If your goals remain unchanged, then you can continue with creating short-term goals and tracking nutrition and training as discussed above. However, if your ultimate goals have pivoted, your short-term goals along with your diet/exercise regime will need to be adjusted as well.
By re-evaluating your goals, you can adjust everything else in your life along with them to remain consistent and on the path to success.
Mix Up Your Routine Often
While certain goals will dictate how you exercise, doing the same thing over and over again will not only stall your progress, but can become demotivating and boring.
Exercise causes an adaptation. That’s why you get stronger or leaner. The body is adapting to the stress of exercise.
While this is necessary and appropriate, it calls for regular change to encourage further adaptation and to re-stimulate the body.
Based on the research, I suggest moving to a new plan or making adjustments every 4-6 weeks. This can be done in a variety of ways, thinking of new and exciting ways to train to both stimulate a physiological response, while also making exercise fun again.
There are hundreds of ways to keep adapting and change – from altering the reps and the exercises to using advanced techniques (supersets, dropsets, etc.) etc. Remember, you can change for a few weeks or months then always revert back.
While some of these changes are quite small, they might just provide the motivational boost your need to continue progressing forward.
Exercise and Set Goals With A Friend
Exercising with a friend is one of the best ways you can stay consistent with your training in the long term.
By having a friend that you normally workout with, you’ll have someone else to help keep you accountable and stay motivated, even on the days when you really don’t want to head to the gym.
Some days, you just don’t care to workout, or your workout is lacking the high energy and drive you need to perform at an optimal level. However, with a friend to help keep you motivated, you’ll be able to stay on track and potentially even exercise to a greater extent than if you’re on your own.
Additionally, a friend can help with your overall goals. You can set regular short-term goals together, or even plan it around an event such as a photoshoot, vacation or weekend away.
Using a partner to your (and their) advantage is one of the best ways to push yourself and continue staying motivated and accountable for your progress.
How to Stay Consistent Long Term
Staying consistent is the number one way to ensure long-term success… it’s really that simple.
Here are the actionable steps you need to take to maximize your consistency and therefore results:
- Define your goals and set short- and long-term goals.
- Monitor progress on a bi-weekly basis.
- Track your nutrition and training with apps etc.
- Re-evaluate and set new goals monthly or every 2-3 months.
- Change your routine every 4-6 weeks to keep it exciting and also maximize results.
- Exercise and set your main goals with a friend or training partner.
Now, take action and get to work making these a reality. Firstly, go set your goals now.
Next, text your friends and see who wants to get focused and dedicate the next few months to change their body. Don’t worry, try to sign up with 2 or 3 of them – after all, some people quit.