If you are like millions of other people on this planet, the new year inspired a desire to make some changes, some improvements, chief among them getting in shape. Ah, but sticking to your fitness goals is a whole other thing! We’re now in February, so it seemed like a good time to check in and offer a few tips to help you stick to your fitness resolutions 🙂
Whether your reasons to get fit are focused on improving overall appearance, getting healthier or stronger, or just fitting into that dress or something for a special occasion, it’s quite likely that at some point your motivation will wane and you will be drawn back into old habits.
In this article, I am going to share a few tips that will hopefully allow you to stick to your fitness dreams this year (and beyond). I want to help you avoid being a statistic–one of the majority that fails to follow through. You will be so glad when, come December, you are reveling in the changes you made while others are starting the typical, “maybe next year” routine!
Tips to Stay on Track
Keep Things Simple
When starting on a new fitness journey, it is so easy to become overwhelmed. As discussed elsewhere on this site, there are endless options and ways to get in shape in terms of what to eat and how to move. If you try to look at all of the choices– which workout routine to start, what foods to eat, even the outfit to wear to the gym– it can lead to inaction. It’s too much. How’s a person supposed to decide?! You might throw your hands up and give up before you even start!
Fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. As with many things in life, keeping your approach simple is advisable. Like so: The best workout routine is the one you will stick to, period. Similarly, your nutrition does not need to be rocket science. You already know what foods are good for you and what is junk. The biggest determining factor pertaining to your success in fitness is consistency.
Set Reasonable Goals
The media does a remarkable job of making drastic body transformations seem like an overnight process. We are constantly bombarded with images and television commercials promising that if you buy their equipment or take a certain supplement, you will look identical to the models used to promote these products.
Even more comical is the timeframes reported by these advertisements. How many times have you heard, “In just 15 minutes per day, 3 times per week, you will finally have those six-pack abs?” This is all nonsense, as physical changes to your physique do not work this way.
Fitness is about the long game. As you begin your journey, it is critical to realize that while you WILL see progress, it won’t happen overnight. Therefore, instead of making a hard-to-stick-to plan of, say, going to the gym 7 days per week and eating nothing but celery and carrots, set goals that you can adhere to.
Start small: give up sweets or between meal snacks; give up soft drinks or liquid calories and drink more water; commit to 3 workouts per week; add activity to your day. Small changes are a great way to ease into new habits. Stephen Guise, author of Mini-Habits for Weight-Loss humorously wrote of starting with just a single push up 😛
If I can’t do a simple 30-minute workout, then I’m going to do one push-up. Great job, Stephen. You can do a push-up. Your dreams will surely come true now.From Mini-Habits for Weight Loss
Silly though it might sound, Stephen Guise has demonstrated how we can succeed at making big changes, one small step at a time. Drop and give me 1 🙂
Be a N.E.A.T. Freak
No, not neat freak as in Monica Geller (Any Friends fans out there?) 😛 I mean NEAT as in non-exercise activity thermogenesis. The name is sort of self-explanatory. It’s basically just moving more. And, as discussed elsewhere on this site, it can have a big impact on overall health and wellness.
Here are a few ideas to up your NEAT factor:
- walk around when talking on the phone
- choose a distant parking spot when doing errands
- use a treadmill desk for office work
- take the stairs more often
- do a bit of gardening
Develop a Strong “Why”
To make a lasting change, you have to have a lasting reason to do so. Sure, making your ex regret letting you go because you look so great can be a motivation. 😛 But once the meeting has passed, then what?
As we have already discussed, fitness is about consistency. The initial motivation and enthusiasm you feel at the start will most likely come and go. If your only reason to exercise is to “look better,” or to instill regret from an ex, you will likely find yourself losing interest in establishing a new habit.
To stick to your fitness goals this year, you need a reason why that is strong enough to move you when the initial enthusiasm isn’t there and you’d much rather stay in and watch television instead of getting outside for a walk.
Not surprisingly, one person’s “why” may not work for you. Your “why” has to be unique to you. Some examples of long-term reasons to stick with your fitness goals might be
- to be able to play with your grandchildren
- to stay active and independent as you age
- to enhance your love life with your spouse
- to lessen the odds of needing long-term care and being a burden
- to be fit enough to pursue active hobbies that you love
Find a deeply motivating reason(s) and remind yourself of that reason whenever you feel yourself slipping. You’ve got this!