The end of January is closing in. The last of the pine needles from the Christmas tree have finally been vacuumed up, the gifts that didn’t fit have been returned, visions of daffodils popping out of the ground are dancing in your head.

Maybe you’ve been lucky and kept the promises you made to yourself at the start of this new year. You made progress, revamping your eating plan, trying to get in some extra steps and you are actually beginning to see some results.

Or . . . maybe not. Maybe the whole “New Year, New You” mantra that you practiced and swore you’d make good on as you wrapped up 2017 is just not happening.  

Snow days and kids home sick from school have left you left you stressed and out of time. Or the New Year has started off with new deadlines at work and a schedule that has you eating all the wrong things at all the wrong times.  

“Tomorrow” you tell yourself, “I’ll get myself on track”.  Or, “I just have to get through this week and I’ll start on Monday.”

As time passes, the vision of the “new you” starts to disappear.  And that’s when your hope begins to fade.

As a health coach, I help individuals who are trying to incorporate positive changes to get to a healthier weight: eating more whole foods, getting some exercise and practicing habits to help them move in that direction until they become second nature.

I’ve learned over time and from my own experience, that having hope – or a belief that the future can be better than the present – is a major component in staying motivated to keep working toward your goals.  

Hope is critical when the going gets tough and you are starting to doubt whether you can achieve what you’ve aimed for.  

It’s literally the “key” that starts the ignition and put the wheels to success in motion.   

Hope builds energy.  

Energy leads to the activity necessary to move toward your goal.  Meeting your goal is the positive outcome that fosters more hope that leads to the energy needed to keep going until you meet your next goal. And on and on.  

But if your hope has already faded and the energy and excitement needed to get to your goal has disappeared along with it, where do you start?

The answer is simple.  You start small.

I’ll explain.  First, I want to give you excellent example of the power of hope –  shared by Isaiah Hankel in his book “Black Hole Focus”.

For the record, I’m not a fan of animal testing but this demonstrates just how powerful having hope can be:

“In the 1950’s, Curt Richter, a Harvard graduate and Johns Hopkins scientist, did a series of experiments that tested how long rats could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water before drowning.  Dr. Richter found that, under normal conditions, a rat could swim for an average of 15 minutes before giving up and sinking. However, if he rescued the rats just before drowning, dried them off and let them rest briefly, and then put them back into the same buckets of circulating water, the rats could swim an average 60 hours.  Yes, 60 hours.  If a rat was temporarily saved, it would survive 240 times longer than if it was not temporarily saved. . . . . Dr. Richter concluded that the rats were able to swim longer because they were given hope.  A better conclusion is that the rats were able to swim longer because they were given energy through hope.  The rats had a clear picture of what being saved looked like, so they kept swimming.”

I know what it’s like to be out of hope. Completely out of hope.

Years ago, when I had over 100 lbs to lose, I was morbidly obese and a  “hopeless” case.   

My brief attempts to lose weight usually consisted of starving for a couple of days, hopping on the scale, always with the expectation that a miracle would occur and I’d have lost 10 lbs in 3 days.  

No such luck.

Honestly, when  you have over 100 lbs to lose, the notion of losing a pound a week isn’t exactly “inspiring”.

Eventually, with the vision of a slimmer me in mind, I mustered up all the hope I could, and gave up the scale.    

Several weeks later, when I finally did weigh in, I had lost over 20 lbs.

Just like the rat who got dried off and then put back in the tub, I knew I could keep “swimming” until I reached my goal. Finally, knowing I could be successful inspired me to keep going to my next goal. And the next.

Hope grows out of the belief or vision of a better outcome – a positive change – a light at the end of the tunnel – the achievement of your goal.   

Remember that losing weight successfully – in a way that won’t damage your health and that you can sustain – will require putting some new habits in place and executing them consistently until you reach your goal.  

But don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do this all at once. Start small.

Perhaps that picture you have of yourself wearing your “skinnier” jeans from a few years ago. Your vision.

With that vision in mind, believe that you can slim down, feel healthier, and feel comfortable in those clothes again.

Maybe for this week make it your goal to clean out your cupboards, toss the potato chips and sugary sweets left from the holidays –  all of those“trigger” foods that only tempt you when they’re around.

Go on a shopping spree – a grocery shopping spree that is – and load up on the foods that will fill you up and help you slim down – high quality protein, lots of green veggies, and healthy carbs – the kind that provide fuel but not wasted calories – oatmeal for example.  

Set the stage. Create the vision. Believe that you can do it and get to work.  

Small steps may equal small successes but each one generates optimism and energy to reach your next goal.  

Believe in yourself and what you are capable of.  It starts with hope!

If you just can’t seem to get started or have gotten lost along the way, remember I’m here to help. Call or send me a message (just go to my Contact page) and I promise I will be in touch. 

You can do this. Good luck!