One of the most frequently asked questions – on Snapchat (@rosemarymaccabe), Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – is how I’ve managed to stay motivated throughout my fitness journey. (Bit of background: in the past three months, under the careful tutelage of Niamh Fitzgerald, PT and head honcho at Lift Training Studios*, I’ve started working out 4-6 times a week, lost two and a half stone and ditched my Eddie Rocket’s habit.)
The thing is, my changes haven’t just been physical. As well as all of the above, I’ve surprised myself – and everyone else. I’ve become insanely positive (not just by my standards); I’ve managed to turn down treat after treat that’s been sent into the STELLAR offices; I haven’t eaten a single piece of cheese / milk chocolate / naan bread; I haven’t missed a single session, bar one day over Christmas when I – and the rest of the world – had the worst cold imaginable.
And before this, to be clear, I was not Mrs Motivator. I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was about 14 – when I joined Weight Watchers with a friend and (woe!) was horrified by my 11 stone 12 lbs weight. (When I started with Niamh, I was a whopping 14 stone 10 lbs – now, I’m around 12 stone 6 lbs.) I’ve done everything: Weight Watchers, Slimming World, boxing courses, bootcamp, kickboxing, Bikram… And I’ve never stuck to a single thing. So, when I started at Lift, I was, y’know, enthusiastic – ish. But I also knew that it wouldn’t last. (It never did.)
This is all a long way of saying that, most of the time, I don’t know how I stay motivated. I don’t know what it is about this time around that has meant that it’s stuck – and I’m not always 100% convinced that it has. When people congratulate me, or tell me I’m doing well, I have to prevent myself going, “don’t worry it won’t last!” or “check back again in six months when I’ve put it all back on!” I’m still terrified – every single day – that today will be the day I fall off the wagon, scoff those chocolates, or don’t get out of bed when my alarm goes off.
Every day is a new chance to totally fuck up – which makes every day a struggle. But there are things that make it all worth it, and I guess I use them to motivate myself, to remind myself that, ultimately, it’s better to be a little bit wrecked than to feel totally sluggish; it’s better to feel a little bit hungry than to have terrible IBS for days on end; it’s better to be able to fit into those jeans than to be able to eat Eddie Rocket’s three times a week (I’m not even exaggerating).
So here are just a few things that help me stay on track with diet, with working out and with saying “no, thanks” to the regular influx of sweets.
Have a regular cheat meal
I decided, when January 1st rolled around, that I would try to do a totally clean January – with not a single cheat. And guess what? Within about two weeks, I was miserable. Having a regular “cheat meal” (which actually Niamh prefers to call a “refeed” so it doesn’t seem negative!) totally helps me stay on track, because every time I see something I want, I can say to myself, “don’t worry, you can have that on Saturday.”
Eat loads of good food
Speaking of food, it’s actually easier than ever before to eat clean in Ireland – even if you eat out. I would be a regular restaurant-goer, and before I started with Lift, I often ate every single meal (that’s three per day) out. I’d have a croissant for lunch, burger or salad from Jo Burger for lunch, Eddie Rocket’s / Bombay Pantry / Nando’s (etc) for dinner. So, if I’d gone from that to eating ALL home-made stuff, I think it would’ve been quite tough, not just because you have to get into the habit of cooking, but because I like eating out.
Well guess what? You can still eat out and eat clean, and I think it definitely helps keep me on track. I’ll brunch at Sister Sadie, above; I’ll have lunch at Counter Culture; I’ll get takeout salad at Jo Burger. I just make sure I avoid the bread, salad dressings – and I track everything using MyFitnessPal.
And when I cook my own meals? I eat lots of good protein in the form of lean meats, add good fats – coconut oil or avocado – and loads of green veggies. It’s really rare that I’d actually feel hungry.
Take pics every week
Let’s be clear: I’ve done this every single time I’ve embarked upon a new fitness regimen, and the pics alone have never been enough to motivate me. But once I got through the first month of eating super clean and working out, and saw the difference, I felt so spurred on to keep going. And there have also been weeks where I’ve thought, nothing is changing – then I’ve looked at the pics, like the one above, taken a week apart, and seen little changes. Like, look, there’s some muscle definition! Or even that I’m standing up straighter. Little changes can be so motivating to me now.
Buy some new workout duds
Obviously this is totally unnecessary – and if you’re forking out on PT sessions and classes, this might not be your top financial priority! But a couple of weeks in, a trip to Kildare Village and some new Nike leggings gave me a whole new lease of life. It’s shallow and utterly ridiculous, but I feel better about working out when I think I look semi decent! (And yes, I’m regretting choosing to wear those leggings for my before and after pics!)
If you’re on a budget and looking for some new workout gear, check out the Nike outlet in Kildare – or Sports Direct is deadly for cut-price sportswear.
Try on shit that didn’t fit
The above pic was taken about six weeks into my programme – when I took a gamble and tried on a dresses.ie skirt that wouldn’t go near me when it arrived through the door. I hung it in the wardrobe and didn’t even think about it again for ages; I’m well used to buying clothes that don’t fit, never wearing them, and eventually consigning them with Siopaella. (Ask Ella; I’ve sent in so many things with labels still attached, to my utter shame!)
The other day, I tried on a whole load of things that I’ve been keeping for a (thin) rainy day, things that haven’t fit me in years. And they all fit! It was a fashion miracle. The fact that I’m not sure I even like them any more is clearly not the point – but I was so delighted. One of the main issues for me, at my maximum weight, was that I was sizing myself out of the high street; Topshop’s 16 clothing wasn’t fitting me, and I’ll be honest – I was a bit worried about a future of only wearing Dunnes, Penneys and Evans.
If all else fails, drink coffee
First thing in the morning, before training, I drink a coffee blended with a tablespoon of coconut oil. After breakfast, I have a black coffee. After lunch? A black coffee. I probably drink way too much coffee, but in those moments where I want a treat, where I feel a little peckish, where I’m slightly tempted to get something nice… I drink coffee. (And yeah, yeah, I know I should drink water – but somehow, a cup of coffee feels way more indulgent. I never claimed I was perfect!)
I’d love to know what helps motivate you – and if you have any questions about what I’ve been up to, leave ’em below!
*If you wanna get a piece of this action for yourself, drop Niamh an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s dead sound, and will do a free one-on-one consultation with you if you ask nicely.