Well Being

Save The Date: Why Your Upcoming Vacation May Be Your Best Motivation

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bicycling vacation weight loss motivation

Pre-wedding weight loss has gotten a little crazy in this country (hello, Feeding Tube Bride), but the truth is that having a clear goal, like a wedding or a vacation, in mind when trying to lose weight (or get stronger, eat healthier, or do anything that requires a little motivation) may be the best tool in your proverbial shed. According to Reuters, having an achievable goal with a set end-point can help ward off fitness fatigue, and help you get where you want to be.

Of course, crash-dieting three days before your vacation isn't going to get you anywhere (except maybe into a sad state of tired-and-hungry that will make you unpleasant to be around, if not actually sick) but laying out clear, specific goals in advance, and then meeting smaller, easy-to-attain milestones may be the most effective at fending off boredom, whether it be with a specific exercise (like running or cycling), or a plan (like trying to reach a personal best time). The goals have to be challenging, but not so difficult that you're going to throw in the towel. Which is a pretty sensible way to live your life overall.

This has been shown to be true on both the macro and the micro level. For example, you may not quite be ready for ultramarathons, but setting small, achievable distance or speed goals on the treadmill, or small increases in weight during lifting can help keep your brain from wandering, and thus, keep your body going steady.

It works in the long run, too–knowing that you've got a set end point or date when you'd like to have met your goal (like a wedding, whether it's yours or someone else's, or a family gathering, or even the end of a big project at work) means you're less likely to slack, because time is of the essence.

This is especially true if you're planning a trip which will include physical exercise, like a cycling vacation or one that will involve diving and swimming. You'll want to be in prime shape to take advantage of all the fun stuff you've got planned, so a little extra training will seem more than worthwhile–which is just one more reason to plan vacations that involve biking, hiking, or other exercise.

Our need for motivation may also explain the explosion in popularity of fitness trackers, like the Nike+ FuelBand and the FitBit, both of which feed our data-hungry, reward-seeking brains with tiny integers of success. Walked an extra half a mile today? Hooray for you! Took the stairs instead of the elevator every time you had the chance? Yay! Just by seeing these little milestones add up, and keeping a long-term goal in mind, you may be better off than if you're just heading to the gym because you think you should.

But even without fancy fitness gear, you can set yourself up for success by a.) not crash-dieting and b.) setting goals that are sensible and achievable, but will still result in big changes. Equip yourself with the right mindset, and meeting your health and fitness milestones will be easier than ever before.

Are you setting attainable goals this spring? Share them with us in the comments to hold yourself accountable!

Image Halina Yakushevich via Shutterstock

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