At some point in our lives, almost everyone has made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. This often means more visits to the gym, less time on the couch,no fast food, and more grilled chicken and vegetables. We’ve all stuck to this resolution steadfastly…for about two weeks, when the inevitable lazy weekend kills the desire and motivation to go to the gym on Monday. By February, you consider your New Year’s resolution to be a lost cause, just like last year and the year before.
If you want to break this cycle of broken promises to yourself and make a real effort to get in shape and exercise more during the next year, consider incorporating some of these helpful tips into your workout regimen in 2015.
Set realistic goals.
Setting lofty, unattainable goals is the surest way to set yourself up for failure.If you are not a regular runner, you probably shouldn’t sign up for a marathon next weekend. Similarly, you shouldn’t try to bench pressing 200 pounds if you have little experience lifting weights. Not only do you risk injuring yourself, you are also very likely to fail. The sting of failure can be disheartening, making it less likely for you to want to go back to the gym and try again. You’ll have gone nowhere, accomplished nothing. Bad habits do not change overnight, so start small and build up to bigger successes.
Make a plan – and stick to it.
Before diving head first into the unknown, it’s important to figure out exactly what you want to accomplish with your new exercise regimen. Do you want to slim down, tone up, build muscle, run a six-minute mile, or decrease your body fat percentage? Knowing what you want to accomplish will give your workouts a purpose and direction.
Once you know your macro goals, you can start breaking them down into weekly micro goals. For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds before summer, you should figure out when you want to start and how many pounds you want to lose each week. Having fixed, measurable targets each week will help you stay on task and meet your goals.
It’s also a good idea to plan when and where you are going to work out. And if your first plan falls through for some reason, always try to have a backup. You may have to rearrange other areas of your life, but your future self will benefit from the relatively short-lived inconvenience of fitting exercise into your weekly schedule. It can take anywhere from 21 to 30 days to break a bad habit, so be persistent and your hard work will eventually pay off. Your body will eventually come to crave the endorphin rush that comes with an intense workout, and by that time regular exercise will have become a habit.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Amongst a seemingly-endless train of exercise crazes and fad diets, it can be difficult to know where to begin when you want to get healthy. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to consult a nutritionist or a personal trainer with any questions you may have about diet and exercise, no matter how silly you think the question may be. After all, it’s their job to help people stay healthy.
Once they know more about you, personal trainers and nutritionists can help you create a workout and diet plan tailored to your individual goals and abilities, and they can also help keep you motivated if you have a setback and become discouraged. Workout buddies are also great at helping you stay motivated and on-track to meeting your goals, as you can do for them.
Get excited about exercise!
Contrary to many common misconceptions, exercise can be fun, especially if you do it long enough for it to become a habit. Do whatever you have to do to get yourself excited about exercising during those first few weeks. Buy a new pair of running shoes, invest in a cool gadget, or make a new playlist to get yourself pumped up and in the mood to exercise.
Working out should be an enjoyable experience, so one of your earliest steps should be figuring out how you like to exercise. Not everyone is a gym rat, and that’s okay. Running, jogging, bicycling, and hiking are fun outdoor activities that are also great cardio workouts. The Vitamin D you’ll absorb from being in the sun will give you an extra boost and help improve your mood.
As an added bonus, you can bring your dog along on these outdoor excursions to get some exercise as well. If you make a habit of it, your canine companion will start to look forward to these activities and act as an extra motivator to get you off the couch and out in the sun.
Support your exercise habits by incorporating healthy choices into other areas of life.
Exercise, proper diet, and adequate sleep form the triumvirate of healthy living. All three influence one another, and slacking off in one area can cause the others to suffer. An unhealthy diet can contribute to bad sleep, and inadequate rest can cause you to sleep in and skip a workout. This can throw your whole day out of whack, leaving you less time to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch to take with you and increasingthe likelihood that you will eat fast food later on in the day.
To make the most out of your new workout regimen, supplement it by eating healthy and getting adequate sleep. Don’t inhibit your physical abilities during a workout by loading up on junk food beforehand, and don’t negate your hard work at the gym by binging on cheese fries and soda afterwards. If you need quick snacks after working out consider something filling like a Protein Bar & Water because it’s easy to carry along and has everything your post workout body needs. Your body needs vitamins, minerals, lean protein, and healthy sugars and fats before and after a workout – not fried food and high fructose corn syrup. The better the fuel you consume before, during, and after a workout, the more you will get out of it. Why sabotage yourself before you’ve even begun?
Measure your progress and hold yourself accountable.
You can plan every moment of your day and surround yourself with the best support system on the planet, but in the end, the only person who can truly hold you accountable for meeting your goals is you. One of the easiest ways to keep yourself accountable is to measure your progress and confront your specific successes and failures.
Technology can be incredibly useful in this regard. Devices like FitBit and the Nike+ Sports Watch monitor your physical activity while being worn and keep track of steps taken, calories burned, miles walked, and hours slept, etc. You can wear these devices all day or only during workouts, and the information can be transmitted back to an app on your phone or computer to give you a more thorough idea of how your physical activity factors into your overall health.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Remember: one setback does not equal total failure. If you fall short of one of your goals, use it as motivation to work harder next week.Don’t feel guilty or dismayed if you skip a workout every once in a while or indulge in a piece of birthday cake. The road to success is never entirely painless and we all struggle at some point in our lives. What’s important is that you keep working and never give up on yourself.
Though it can be difficult to change years of built-up bad exercise habits, the long-term benefits of incorporating regular work outs into your weekly schedule far outweigh the short-term aches and pains. To increase your odds of success, try integrating some of these easy tips into your workout regimen. And if you need a little extra motivation, remember these words from the great Muhammad Ali: “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”