As a veteran gym goer, there is a inevitable change that happens in weight rooms and fitness centres every January, where all of the shiny new years resolutions drive people with the best of intentions towards improving their physical fitness. Like clockwork they arrive with bright new clothes and a renewed optimism about how much they are going to change and then slowly over the next few months they disappear. Like ghost of new years past, they might return to haunt their gym a few times, possibly even a short-lived resurrection just before the summer starts, but generally they never return. In my first post, I mentioned a neglected aspect of why people fail at beginning or maintaining fitness changes. The concept of efficacy and mastery experiences can help with providing ammunition and courage to face the daunting task of improving your health, and in this post I will talk about other ways to keep pushing towards your goals in spite of adversity. In sports if you win you receive a trophy of some kind but once we hit a certain age there are no glamourous awards for eating vegetables, no ribbon for avoiding dessert and no likes or favourites for the sweat puddle you left on the treadmill. What’s worse is that you exchange a lifestyle that you might enjoy or at least tolerate for one that leaves you sore, makes you look awkward and places you in weird positions while learning new exercises. It seems like a terrible bargain with no reward. Which is a big reason why people tend to quit. They have exchanged something for nothing, no six pack abs, no maximised glutes and no bulging biceps. They struggle to see anything that they’ve gained and are reminded of all they have sacrificed. To get past this, you need to be willing to step back and reassess what you have truly accomplished and recognise that a few weeks in the gym will not make up for a decade of inactivity and living like a couch potato. The real visible changes that fitness and health can bring do take time and you might not recognise them right away and those you see every day might not see them, however they will arrive eventually. So where should you start? With measuring, everything! Start with photos, revealing as much skin as you are comfortable with and get all the angles and all the bits you are nervous about. Obviously, you don’t need to flash them around until you have a glorious after photo version of yourself to accompany the “before” photo of you. Next, measure your body. Inches accumulate everywhere so track them, start with your neck and then work your way down. Pick specific and repeatable areas to measure (widest part of your shoulders, your belly button, a set distance above your knee cap, etc.). Keep track and even throw in your body weight, though that can fluctuate so dramatically daily and weekly that it should be only a guide. Use how you feel and the inches you lose to really see progress. Next, track all the exercise you do and look for improvement. Doubling or tripling the weight on an exercise or just increasing the repetitions should be celebrated. Moving from zero to one chin ups might be the biggest accomplishment for some people and shows dramatic progress. Track it all and celebrate it all, more repetitions, more weight and mastering consistency will help you at those moments when you are willing you give up.