We’ve all been there. You start off the new year full of motivation, determined that this will be the year you finally achieve your goals. You tell yourself: no more excuses! Whether your aim is to lose weight, get in shape, start a side business, write that book or just be happier, you feel pumped up and ready to crush it.
You dutifully meal prep on Sundays, drag yourself to early morning spin classes and cut out the post-work drinks. The first couple weeks feel great. You’re showing up and putting in the work. You imagine yourself on New Year’s Eve next year, 50 lbs lighter or with a finished manuscript in hand, thinking “I did it!”
But then something happens around the third week of January. The initial excitement starts to fade. The work feels more like a chore. You’re not seeing the rapid results you expected. Old habits creep back in and your motivation starts to lag.
Before you know it, you’ve missed a few workouts, “forgotten” to pack your healthy lunch a couple times or stayed out late drinking even though you said you’d stop. Suddenly that resolution feels like an increasingly distant dream rather than a commitment.
According to data analyzed by the fitness app Strava, there is actually a specific day when most people are likely to ditch their new health goals and New Year’s resolutions. And no, it’s not January 1st. It’s around day 19.
Strava looked at over 800 million user-logged activities and found day 19 to be the peak quitting point for new fitness routines started at the beginning of the year. This phenomenon has been dubbed “Quitters Day.”
So why does this motivation slump happen around the three week mark? And more importantly, how can you power through Quitters Day without tossing your goals aside?
Why We Struggle Around Quitters Day
There are two key reasons people tend to struggle around days 18-21 of starting a new positive habit or health routine like improved diet and exercise:
1. The Newness Has Worn Off
In the beginning, it’s exciting. You feel motivated by the idea of the “new you” you’re going to create. But once the initial motivation wears off and it’s no longer novel, the reality sets in. The hard work it takes to ingrain new habits feels more like a grind than a thrill.
Starting a workout program or sticking to a strict healthy eating plan takes a LOT of effort when your body and brain are used to old ways. It’s tough to form new neural pathways and override years of engrained behaviors. Plus, many programs take time to start delivering visible results.
Around week three, people start to miss days or “cheat” on their new regime, then beat themselves up over it. Feeling like they’ve already failed, it becomes tempting to give up entirely.
But this is a mistake! One or two slip ups don’t negate all the progress you’ve made or mean you have to start over from scratch. You just have to re-commit each day to getting back on track. Staying perfectly consistent 100% of the time is unrealistic for most people. Progress happens in fits and starts.
2. Lack of Visible Results
Another reason people struggle with motivation around the three week mark is that rapid changes don’t appear as quickly as expected. You put in a ton of efforts but the results seem painfully slow.
Losing weight, building muscle, transforming your health and life take time! Most experts recommend giving a new routine 6-8 weeks to start noticing meaningful changes. But when the scale hasn’t budged or your skinny jeans are still tight by week three, it’s easy to get impatient and feel defeated.
On top of that, many people experience the “I’ll start once...” syndrome before beginning a fitness or diet program in the first place. For instance, they say:
“I’ll start once I join a gym”
“I’ll start once I have time”
“I’ll start once I can afford a personal trainer”
Not only does this mentality delay taking action in the first place, but it also sets up unrealistic expectations. People mistakenly believe that once these external factors line up, change will be quick and effortless.
When the reality of hard work sets in, they decide the external factor wasn’t the magic bullet after all. The gym membership alone didn’t instantly give them a six-pack. So why keep trying?
Creating real change doesn’t happen overnight. Whether your goals are health-focused or in other areas, lasting transformation requires consistency, hard work and patience.
Knowing these common pitfalls is half the battle when it comes to pushing past them. So when Quitters Day or the equivalent strikes, how can you stick with your goals and continue moving forward?
4 Tips to Get Through Quitters Day
Here are four strategies to stay motivated and consistent, even when you feel like throwing in the towel:
1. Remind Yourself Why You Started
When your enthusiasm starts to lag, reconnect with the reasons you wanted to make this change in the first place. What pain or dissatisfaction were you hoping to move away from? And what benefits, physical or otherwise, will you gain by sticking with it?
Your “why” provides the emotional fuel to keep going when things get tough. Some examples:
Losing weight to improve your health, self-confidence and quality of life
Waking up early to have more time for family, hobbies, or learning new skills
Starting a side business to gain more freedom and financial security
Make your reasons compelling enough and you’ll be motivated to persist through the inevitable ups and downs.
2. Track Your Progress, However Small
When results aren’t appearing as quickly as you hoped, it can seem like you haven’t made ANY progress. This simply isn’t true. Compound interest applies here. Small improvements made consistently, day after day, add up to big results over time.
Start tracking whatever progress metrics you can, even if the improvement is tiny, like:
Exercising for 5 more minutes each workout
Drinking one less soda per day
Saving $5 more per week
Seeing concrete progress laid out will help you recognize that change IS happening. It just requires patience. Progress fuels motivation.
3. Get Accountability and Support
Trying to stick to any new regimen solo is tough. We all need support. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on, believe in you, and hold you accountable.
Accountability partners and groups help in several ways:
They motivate you when your own determination wavers
They provide community, camaraderie and fun
They keep you honest by checking on your progress
They offer advice and education to help you improve
If those around you seem unsupportive or skeptical, avoid them for a while. Seek people who will be in your corner no matter what.
4. Consider Working with a Personal Trainer or Fitness Coach
For many people struggling to lose weight, get fit or make other lifestyle changes, working with a personal trainer or health coach makes all the difference. The right coach provides accountability, expertise, and individualized support.
According to the American Council on Exercise, people who work with personal trainers experience better weight loss results and are more likely to stick with exercise programs long-term. Private trainers make sure your regimen is customized, progressing properly, and fun!
The same holds true when seeking to build career skills, become less stressed, or achieve goals in other parts of life. An expert fitness coach gets to know you, provides structure and guidance, and keeps you motivated over time.
For instance, companies like Executive Fitness in Long Beach, and Justin Roth Personal Training in Long Beach provide personalized health and wellness coaching to Long Beach residents, corporate executives and organizations seeking to create positive change. Their corporate wellness programs incorporate services like:
One-on-one fitness training
Customized meal planning
Stress management education
Health coaching and counseling
These experts help executives and employees through programs like 12-week body challenges. This level of structured guidance and support empowers individuals and companies to achieve their health and wellness goals.
So if you're struggling to stay motivated 3 weeks into that New Year's resolution, don't be too hard on yourself! Quitters Day trips up the best of us. Just remember your "why", track your progress, get support, and consider customized guidance from a professional trainer.
With these strategies, you CAN power through this month's slump and continue working toward the new, improved you. It may take more than 19 days to hit your stride, but investing NOW will help you stick with positive changes for good.
You got this!
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