Stay motivated: Here’s how trainer Zimo Tam keeps the pressure on!

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©Marwin Meller

If you’ve been exercising vigorously but find your drive is slowing down, our expert Zimo Tam is here with some pro tips to help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.

Get pro tips from trainer Zimo Tam that will help you reach your goals! 

It’s easy to stay motivated when you first set a goal because it’s all so new and exciting. For a few days, you have no problem going to the gym round the clock and drinking mostly smoothies. But after a few weeks, when you may be feeling tired or distracted by life, it may be hard to maintain such a high level of motivation. 

In order to help you stay the course, we’ve asked trainer Zimo Tam, author of the blog fitnessagony, how to stay motivated – how he keeps going for the long haul.  

Success starts in your head. That’s how you reach your goals.

Why is it that we’re always so ambitious when we first start something, but then all that motivation goes down the drain after a few weeks? 

Often people want or try to change their lifestyles completely overnight. That’s great in and of itself, because it shows a lot of conviction right from the start. But it takes a lot of willpower and self-control to change your habits permanently and stay motivated. If you decide to drink less alcohol, stop smoking, exercise more, and eat healthier all at once, it’s definitely not going to be as easy as if you made one change at a time. The problem is that you don’t suddenly become a new person from one day to the next. Such changes are usually gradual and the process is often quite long, lasting a few weeks, months, or even years.

On top of that, most people who want to eat healthier or exercise more, for example, have only a vague idea of what that actually looks like. Basically, if you only ran once last year and you’ve already run three times this year, then you’ve technically already exercised more than last year. You eat three salads more than the year before, so technically you’ve already eaten healthier than the year before, and so on. At the beginning of the coaching, I give my clients the opportunity to clearly write down their goals as well as steps and details that will allow them to focus on how each goal is supposed to be achieved and it helps them stay motivated.

©Marwin Meller

How do you motivate yourself when you really don’t want to work out? What is motivation for you?

It’s rare for me not to feel motivated, but when I need an extra push I force myself to remember how good I feel after a workout. I keep my goals in front of my eyes and think about the good feelings behind my goals to remind myself why I chose to set these goals in the first place.

There are always days when you really want to eat comfort food. How do you avoid temptations?

Yes, there are days when you just crave sweets and snacks more than others. If you’re trying to avoid indulging in high-fat or high-calorie snacks, a few easy tips and tricks can help you satisfy your cravings in a healthy way

When I’m in the mood for something sweet, I’ll either bake protein cookies at home or whip up a Goji Berry Power Smoothie. If I don’t have a lot of time, I drink a chocolate Whey Protein shake.

A batch of warm protein cookies is a great way to help you stay motivated - a sweet treat with less sugar and carbs for the days you still want to indulge.

What foods and products help you feel fit?

Oat flakes, rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes, fish and poultry, fat-free cottage cheese and natural yogurt, various nuts, salad with a variety of vegetables and, of course, fruit—usually bananas, apples, kiwis and berries. And of course I always have protein powders and other supplements such as BCAA’s and creatine on hand. That’s how I make sure that I’m always providing my body with the nutrients I need to sustain my intense workouts. 

Goals should be ambitious but not unattainable. How do you set them? 

Like most people, I too often set too many goals at once. And when you try to do everything at once, staying motivated on all of them is an almost impossible feat. That’s why I ask myself what’s really a priority to me and I focus on that. It’s a step-by-step process, but it’s how I stay focused on my goal and motivated in the long term.

How do you turn a healthy change into a habit?

That’s really not an easy question to answer. I think anyone who knows exactly why they’ve set a particular goal will be able to achieve it. What also really works is to be aware of the negative consequences that one’s current behavior can have in the worst case scenario. What happens if I continue with this lifestyle? Is it possible that I will suffer from health problems? Will my social environment change? All these questions can really keep people motivated.

In fact, there is a rule that a new behavior must be kept for an average of 60 days to be considered a habit. Basically, all it takes is two months to make a new habit, and that’s a great thing to think of when you’re having trouble staying motivated! 

A lot of people would like to lose weight in a healthy way. What kind of dietary changes do you recommend for them? What factors should they consider? 

First of all, I recommend avoiding drastic diets. They only work for a little while and almost inevitably lead to a yo-yo effect. On the other hand, I advise a gradual change of diet over a long period of time in order to adopt a balanced diet that guarantees an ideal supply of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat).

If weight loss is your goal, start by calculating your daily calorie requirement and then try to eat somewhere between 200 to 400 calories fewer every day (your calorie deficit will vary depending on your needs). That way, your body doesn’t feel like it’s starving as on so many other diets and it doesn’t go into energy-saving mode. And it’s pretty easy to cut those calories without even thinking. In fact, just changing the portion sizes of your meals, may be enough to reduce your calorie intake.

What is most important for muscle development?

With muscle building, you actually need to eat more calories than you usually do in order to reach your goals. And of course, the workouts you do will be quite different from those in a weight loss training program. On the other hand, a well-balanced diet with plenty of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats are essential to success. 

The mind is stronger than the body. Why is an iron will the key to success?

Simply because willpower allows you to counter temptations and distractions and maintain your motivation. It must be clear to you: everything you do, you do primarily for yourself. It’s your goal. Not someone else’s. Not your friends’ or the company’s. An iron will will also give you the motivation to persevere, even on those days when you are feeling totally knocked out. When you are, you can count on your will to take you to the gym, no matter how much you want to be on the couch. 

Our tip: For real progress in weight loss and weight training, use our free Body Check to set goals and receive personalized fitness and nutrition advice.

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