Good intentions don’t shed pounds, so making a stellar workout plan won’t do you any good unless you stick to it. Countless people make exercise a new year’s resolution, or promise themselves they will start a new workout regimen “next week” – and then never follow through. In order to maintain a successful exercise schedule, keep some basic tenets in mind.
1. Get a workout buddy. If you are accountable for meeting another person at the gym or a hiking trail, shirking your commitment to working out won’t be as easy. At the very least, get a friend to call you at a particular time and remind you about your impending workout and offer encouragement. You are probably more willing to let yourself off the hook about a workout than someone else will be, so a workout buddy can keep you in check.
2. Keep workout clothes on hand. Whether you set out your clothes the night before for a morning workout or have a gym bag under your desk at work for an evening workout, having the necessary attire within sight will keep you motivated. It also gives you one less excuse for cancelling your workout at the last minute. If you went to the trouble of bringing your shoes and sweats to work, you may as well change in to them and go through with the workout.
3. Put exercise appointments on your calendar. Write down your workouts as far in advance as you can. Just like you feel obligated to show up to a doctor appointment or HOA meeting because you penciled it in, seeing your workout in black and white will make you feel responsible for sticking to the schedule.
4. Do something you like. It sounds obvious, but if you sign up for a kickboxing class knowing full well that you’ve tried it and hated every second, you are less likely stay on course with your fitness. Find an activity that you can look forward to, and your exercise plan can become a fun release rather than something you do to punish yourself.
5. Set small goals and give yourself a reward. Behavior plans aren’t just for kids – adults can benefit from them as well. If you have your eyes on a new set of shoes, tell yourself that you need to complete a certain number of exercise hours before you can buy them. If you fear that you lack the self-control necessary to deprive yourself, tell your workout buddy or spouse about the plan so they can help you stay on track . . . or make you pay them $10 if you break the rules.
At the end of the day, staying fit is mostly about setting a schedule and not letting yourself down. The first few weeks of any exercise regimen are the most difficult. Once your workouts become a part of your normal schedule you will find that you don’t need as many tricks to stay on course – you will actually enjoy doing it.
What’s most important of all and often lost in all the hype of New Years Resolution articles and programs that routinely come out this time of year is that getting fit and staying fit aren’t things that revolve around a quick fix. Fitness is a lifestyle; it’s a mindset. That doesn’t mean your entire life has to be about it, but it has to mean that choices like what you’re eating and how active of a lifestyle you’re maintaining should always be considerations during your days. Treat it like that, and next year you won’t need a resolution to lose weight…you’d have already lost it!