Day 21. Perseverance
The Science Behind Why Perseverance Is Crucial for Health and Weight Loss
Making the type of change in your life that lasts isn’t easy. You can work hard for weeks, months, and even years, but all of your progress can be undone if old habits start to kick back in. Fortunately, there’s a cure: perseverance. When you make the choice to keep working towards your goals, to stick it out through hard times, and to get going when the going gets tough, you can make the type of change that lasts.
Over your 21 Day Challenge you’ve worked on creating change in many areas of your life. But the number one change you can make is deciding to persevere. When you commit to perseverance, the changes you’ve made will be changes that stick.
Why It Matters
When you approach your goals with an attitude of perseverance, you...
• Stop letting little issues throw you off track
• Have a long-term mindset that encourages you to keep going
• Are more patient
• Are willing to make short term sacrifices for long-term gains
• Move past failures more quickly
• Lose more weight
• Achieve your goals
If you overlook the importance of perseverance, you...
• Allow failures and setbacks to stall your progress
• Get wrapped up in negative thinking
• Are impatient for results
• Are unwilling to sacrifice in the short term
• End up throwing in the towel
• Lose less weight, or even start to gain weight again
• Fail to reach your goals
The Science Behind Perseverance
When you commit to seeing a goal through, you’re much more likely to succeed. This is especially true if your goals are related to weight loss.
A 2016 study from the University of Copenhagen found that when people persevere in their weight loss plan, they’re much more likely to keep the weight off. The study followed a group of people who lost weight on a 12-week plan. The people who managed to persevere and keep the weight off experienced changes in their hunger related hormone levels. After a year of maintaining a lower weight, participants had lower levels of the hormone that causes a large appetite and a higher level of the hormone that helps them feel full.1 In other words, by putting in the time, persevering through obstacles, and sticking to your plan, you are much more likely to reach and stay at your goal weight.
Make it Happen
The more work you put into creating a persevering mindset, the more your work in other areas will pay off. That’s why it’s an important part of your GetFit21 experience.
Are you ready to open your mind and attitude? Are you willing to commit to seeing perseverance as something worth having, and to make changes in your mindset to achieve it?
The Challenge: Commit to shifting your mindset from where it is now to an attitude of perseverance.
Your Next Steps
1. Understand What Perseverance Is: Perseverance is not a personality trait. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something that you can develop and grow. Like any skill, it may take time, but you are completely capable of becoming someone who is able to persevere.
2. Recognize that Your Mindset Can be Changed: What is the difference between someone who throws in the towel at the first sign of failure and someone who perseveres? Mindset. Think about the last time you worked through something difficult. Maybe it was finding a job or dealing with a tough financial situation. At first, your obstacles felt insurmountable. Then, as time passed, you probably started to feel a little differently. What changed? Whether you realized it or not, you started to view your obstacles differently. And that’s how you overcame them. No matter how long the road between you and your goals may seem right now, there is one thing you can control: how you think about them. Realizing this is the first step towards perseverance.
1 Iepsen, E. & Lundgren, J. (2016). Successful weight loss maintenance includes long-term increased meal responses of GLP-1 and PYY 3-36. European Journal of Endocrinology. doi: 10.1530/EJE- 15-1116
3. Listen to What You’re Saying to Yourself: The biggest thing standing between you and your goals? You. More specifically, that little voice in your head that tells you to stay
in your comfort zone. Listen to the types of things you say to yourself. Are they positive or negative? Do you say “this is hard, I can’t do this, I should stop,” or do you say “this is hard, but I can do it.” Practice listening to yourself. When you start thinking negative thoughts, stop them in their tracks. It may sound silly, but saying “stop!” out loud is an excellent way to point out to yourself when your mind is getting away from you. The more you interrupt negative thoughts and encourage positive ones, the more natural it will feel to persevere through tough times.
4. Keep Your Eyes on Your Goal: What are you trying to accomplish? If you don’t know, it will be nearly impossible to resist temptation. Set specific and achievable goals for yourself. “I want to lose weight” is an okay goal. “I want to lose 25 pounds” is a much better one. The more real your goal seems in your mind, the easier it will be to persevere through distractions.
5. Set a Deadline: When we are facing an obstacle, one of the biggest reasons we decide to give up is because we don’t think the hardship will ever end. Keep your enthusiasm up by setting deadlines for yourself. When you’re tempted to give up or backslide, tell yourself “I’m going to work towards my goals for the next 21 days. When those 21 days are up, I’ll decide if I want to keep going.” It’s easier to persevere through a shorter period of time than a longer one. And when you reach your deadline you’ll more than likely be so encouraged by your success that you’ll want to keep on going.
6. Do One More Thing: When you’re tempted to throw in the towel, tell yourself you’ll do one more thing. Tempted to skip exercising for the day? Promise yourself you’ll do just one more workout. Thinking of ditching your high protein breakfast in favor of that box of doughnuts? Choose to stick to your meal plan for just one more day. Keep doing just one more thing to build up your momentum through obstacles and toward your goals.
Think Long Term
Continuing to practice and build your perseverance skills will ensure that you continue to work towards your goals. Do the following after your 21 Day Challenge is over to keep perseverance a priority.
• Take care of yourself. When you’re feeling tired, stressed, or undernourished, your ability to push through obstacles will be at a low. Set yourself up for success by taking very good care of your body.
• Find a support system. Surround yourself with people who support you in working through discouraging situations. Do what you can to avoid people who would rather dwell on the negative.
• Take responsibility. Your progress towards your goals will stall out fast if you respond to mistakes and setbacks with blame. Instead of worrying about whose fault something is, focus instead on what you can do to fix it, and what you’ll do differently next time. Taking responsibility for your actions and making changes where you can is a key to persevering over the long term.
Congratulations on reaching the final day of your GetFit21 Challenge!
As you have come along this healthy weight loss journey, one of the biggest concerns you may have had is “Can I really make a change? And if I do... can I really maintain it?”
The answer to that question is yes! Yes you can!
You have increased your knowledge and spent time improving your eating habits because you are deserving of a strong, healthy body.
Much of your time has been spent physically conditioning your heart, toning your muscles, and strengthening your body because you deserve to have strength, flexibility, and energy.
Many of the changes you have made were personal choices to improve former behaviors. You made them because you are smart.
You have talked the talk, walked the walk, made choices and changes, and turned old habits into new, healthy ones. You have earned the right to enjoy your healthier lifestyle forever. You are ca- pable and deserving of such. You deserve to be a long-term success story and that story deserves to be shared with others.
And above all else, you are WORTH IT!