If you’re like many other Americans, you made a resolution to improve your health and get fit. You started off great, going to the gym or taking a walk multiple times a week. It is one month since you started and life is taking over, it is becoming easier and easier to make excuses to skip a workout. Research shows that by the end of February, nearly 73 percent of people who set fitness goals give them up for one reason or another.
Whether aiming to lose weight, get fit, or train for an athletic event, simply setting a resolution doesn’t guarantee success. Those who give up cite a number of stumbling blocks when it comes to achieving their fitness goals:
. 42 percent say it’s too difficult to follow a diet or workout regimen
. 38 percent say it’s too hard to get back on track once they fall off
. 36 percent say it’s hard to find time
All too often, resolutions become less of a priority and people put what they wanted so badly in January on hold till the following January. It’s a vicious circle.
How can you ensure this doesn’t happen to you?
This year will be different. By following these tips you’ll be able to stay focused and meet your fitness goals this year. This will be the year you keep on track to not only meet but exceed your fitness resolution.
See it, Achieve it
The best way to achieve your goal is to see it. This can be as easy as writing your goal down and displaying it somewhere you’ll see every day. However, you can use other visual reminders as well. For example, a picture of yourself when you were more physically fit or an article of clothing you want to fit into again seem silly, but are all powerful physical reminders. Keep these visuals in various locations to keep you motivated. Try hanging them around your home, on the fridge or even at your desk at work.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Studies show that keeping track of your progress can help you succeed. Log your weight each week (for more accurate read try the same time once a week in the morning), write down what you eat and record how you’re feeling regularly in a journal. Keeping a record will let you see how many calories you’re consuming, discover unhealthy patterns and identify areas for improvement.
The Buddy System
Still looking for that extra push? Encourage a friend or a family member to set a fitness goal as well. Research shows that people who have someone to lean on are the most successful at diet and exercise programs. Try cooking a meal together or even swap healthy recipes. You can also set up exercise dates. It’s easier to follow through when you know someone else is counting on you!
Pencil it in
Find a workout time that works for you — and stick to it. Some people find it easier to get their workouts in first thing that way excuses won’t pop up during the day. Not a morning person? Throw your gym bag in the car and workout right after work, before you get distracted with things to do at home. If you have given up or slacked off on workouts, set a time a stick to it for the rest of the month. It only takes 21 days to make a habit!
Keep it Fresh
Remember to enjoy exercise. Hate the treadmill? Try a Spin or Bar Method class. Love the treadmill but use it all the time? Challenge yourself by trying a new program. No matter how often you use the gym it’s important to try something new to stay motivated and boost your fitness level.
Give it a Rest
Everyone gets sick once in a while or eats a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party. Don’t beat yourself up when you skip a day at the gym or have a dietary slip up! Tomorrow is another day. Plus studies show that taking a break from exercises is actually a good thing. A simple day off here and there (not entire weeks at a time though) will help repair muscles, prevent injury from overuse and even prevent burnout.
Sleep is your best friend and you don’t want to get on her bad side. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain by raising appetite-stimulating hormones, such as cortisol. Besides, the better rested you are, the more likely you are to get up and hit the gym! Aim for a minimum of 6-8 hours of precious slumber a night.
Sometimes staying focused on your goals requires a little incentive now and then. Along the way set mini goals. When you attain a mini goal, indulge in something. How does a day of pampering sound? Relax and enjoy a mani-pedi or a massage. Working on your fitness? Why not buy new workout clothes, sneakers or fitness equipment. Trimming your waistline via the kitchen? Try buying a new kitchen tool to help you prepare your healthy meals. Try and avoid rewarding yourself with food because that could lead to getting off track.