It’s that time of year when gym memberships soar and protein shakes fly off the shelves. Getting fit means different things to different people. Whether you want to fit into your old jeans, bulk up, or simply adopt a healthier lifestyle, the New Year represents a fresh start for a lot of people. Almost as common as making resolutions is quitting resolutions. What’s the secret to keeping your motivation up past the first few weeks of January?
Set Incremental Goals
Goals tend to be big picture visions. But, in order to make that big picture a reality, we need to work on one piece at a time. A workout plan that breaks down exercises into sets you can follow lays out those mini-goals for you. Find an exercise plan that fits your schedule – you can get a book or download plans online. These days, you can even shop around for Youtube channels or fitness apps you like. If you do one day at a time just ten times, you’ll form a habit.
Set Realistic Expectations
If you want to run a marathon, you don’t expect yourself to run all 26 miles on your first day of training. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you want to get anywhere with a fitness program you need to respect your starting point and pace yourself reasonably. If you start training for that marathon and all you can do is a half-mile, great! You have a baseline to work from.
Pay Attention To Your Body
Your body is not your enemy. When you’re unhappy with your body, you’re more likely to be unhappy when you work out. You’ll be asking, why can’t I be stronger? instead of enjoying your time in the weight room. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Respect pain and fatigue, because these are signals from your body telling you to adjust what you’re doing or take a break. Respect hunger, because it means your body needs fuel — so choose healthy fuel instead of neglecting to eat. Always drink water before you feel thirsty. By following these tips, you work with yourself, not against yourself.
Set Up Accountability
Everybody needs to find their own system. Maybe you get a gym buddy, or maybe investing money in a fitness class will motivate you to show up. Maybe you keep a notebook, or a chart on the wall with stickers like in preschool. Maybe you bribe yourself with treats or shame yourself into honoring your commitment. Whatever system you use, don’t let excuses outsmart it.
A lifestyle of fitness helps keep your energy levels up, improves your mood, and results in long-term health benefits. Happy New Year, and best of luck keeping your resolutions!