Did you indulge a little more than you would have liked during the holidays? If so, you’re not alone. Those extra smidges of fudge and whipped cream have many of us promising to lose weight and eat healthier food in the New Year. But research indicates that sticking to these ever-popular resolutions can be difficult. Though we all know that maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating well are good ways to prevent chronic health problems, only eight percent of resolution-makers meet their goals.
There are ways to beat the odds and ensure your personal success. Make a commitment, and most importantly, take a long-term view of your health. Think about what you’re modeling for your kids. Start slowly and don’t expect a miracle in three weeks. Follow these twelve surefire tips to start and maintain your workout routine, and maybe you won’t be making the same resolutions next year.
Baby steps first.
Promise yourself a brisk 15-minute walk on your lunch hour each day, or a 20-minute yoga DVD while the baby’s napping. Start with something you know you can manage, and grow from there.
Beware the Shortcut Charlatan.
No, you can’t use “vibration technology” to jiggle flab into a beach-ready bikini body. The quicker you’re able to ignore to such outlandish claims, the quicker you can get to the real business of getting fit. Exercising can be fun, but it’s not effortless. View your health and fitness as a creative lifelong endeavor, rather than a phase.
Know yourself, be yourself.
Not a rooster? Don’t schedule your workouts at 5am. Enjoy camaraderie? Join a fitness class. Inspired by screams of, “Make it burn!” as you writhe in pain after your hundredth crunch? Hire the burly retired marine as your personal trainer. Nothing burns you out quicker than hating every minute of your workout. Use the equipment and techniques that motivate you.
It’s easier to work toward a goal that’s detailed and specific. So “I’ll exercise more,” becomes “I’ll bike five miles, three times a week.” Amy Carroll, full-time insurance agent and mother of two, has been going to the gym regularly for almost four months. She says, “My long-term goal is to be the weight that is on my driver’s license. I have mini goals to shoot for along the way…[and] currently have hit my first goal of losing 15 lbs!”
One-on-one time with a personal trainer can help demystify the vast array of techniques and equipment. Personal trainer Brandon Senn claims that many people don’t stick with a fitness program because they’ve chosen a “cookie cutter routine.” He says, “Many people don’t understand what they’re doing and why.” A personal trainer can help you create a flexible and diversified program. Most can also provide advice regarding nutrition and weight management.
Resist the urge to weigh yourself every day. Sure, you want a concrete way to track the pounds being siphoned away in your sweat. But for most people, losing more than 1 to 1½ pounds per week is unrealistic. Senn says progress is more accurately tracked by getting a regular body fat measurement (easily obtained at most gyms). In addition, he recommends keeping an accurate log of your workouts as “a great way to see where you’re making progress, and where you might need to modify what you’re doing.” Hop on the scale only weekly (or even monthly) to get a better sense of weight loss and avoid discouragement.
A workout partner with similar goals can foster some healthy competition. You don’t need to coordinate every workout, but check in with your buddy regularly to compare notes. Choose a person who won’t let you off the hook too easily if you miss your workout.
Use bribery and blackmail.
Reward yourself in some small way for completing your workout. Sometimes all it takes is the thought of a post-workout shower at the gym, uninterrupted by small children pounding on the door. If you’re more motivated by penalty than reward, agree to buy your workout buddy lunch if you miss more than two sessions in a row. Post your intentions on Facebook.
Remember your physics.
A body at rest tends to stay at rest, while a body in motion tends to keep moving. This goes for your body too. When unforeseen schedule challenges arise, do a brisk 20-minute walk or jog rather than ditch your workout completely. Adopt a “something is better than nothing” attitude. Missed workouts pile up quickly, while your feet get more comfortable on the ottoman.
Avoid the blame game.
You ate a huge piece of cake after your daughter’s birthday party, and now you feel like your workout was all for naught. Allow yourself a specific amount of time to indulge in guilt (no more than 15 minutes!) and move on. Emphasis on move. And don’t try to compensate for those cake calories by doubling your workout time. Forget the “sugar debt” and keep moving.
Mix it up.
Try something new when you feel stuck in your routine. Carroll says she loves her Zumba class, but also uses the elliptical, some weight machines, and some free weights. She adds, “I just started doing some basic kick boxing stuff at home and I have enjoyed that too.”
Look for someone who makes you think, “If she can do it, so can I.” Whether it’s the restaurant blogger who shed 90 pounds, or the 90-year-old who still walks 3 miles a day, let your “hero” spur you on.
By Ashley Talmadge