Getting fit is among the most popular New Year's resolutions people make every year. Most, however, abandon the goal by spring. Here are a few tips to ensure that this is the year that the goal of getting fit becomes a reality.
- Be clear about your motivation. “Often, we think it’s just to look better, but if we dig a little deeper, it really is about feeling better — having more energy, not having aches and pains in your joints and muscles, feeling more comfortable in your clothes and feeling happier about your self,” said Shirley Archer, a Florida-based wellness and fitness educator.
- Set measurable short-term and long-term goals. “People need something more quantifiable that they can see, whether it's numbers on a scale or numbers on a bench. For example, saying, 'On Jan. 1, I'm going to start swimming and by May I want to swim three or four miles without stopping,'” said Jack Wilson, a Tennessee dietary and fitness consultant.
- Take baby steps. Don't try to incorporate new habits all at once. Gradually introduce new activities and as they are mastered, add additional activities.
- Find opportunities to incorporate more daily activity. “This is counter-intuitive. Instinctively, we want to conserve energy. We need to consciously change this attitude,” said Archer.
“Make multiple trips up the stairwell instead of saving it just for one. Use stairs. Park further away. Carry things yourself. Move, move, move, move. Every step counts.”
Archer also recommends using a pedometer to measure activity level.
- Do what you love. Working out in a gym is not for everyone. Exercisers should choose an activity that they enjoy doing and that could be sustained over a long period of time. Activities such as dancing, biking, walking and swimming are great alternatives to working out in the gym.
- Set up an accountability partner. Report workout and dietary regimens to a friend, family member or fitness professional. Having to check in regularly will lower the risk of abandoning fitness goals.
- Change things up to keep it interesting. Get over boredom and fitness plateaus by doing something different. This could be working out in the outdoors versus at a gym or working out with a group instead of solo.
- Build a network of support. Having a cheering squad of family and friends can help motivate people to achieve goals. It also makes a person feel good to know that others want to see them succeed.
- Train from the inside out. “What I mean by that is that you must work on your attitude. Think positive. Congratulate your achievements. Do not beat your self up for not yet being where you want to be. Instead, celebrate every step you take toward achieving your goals,” said Archer. Comment on this story
- Never give into an excuse to quit. Tiredness and an overbooked schedule should not be reasons to put off fitness goals. “People give themselves the option to opt out of it. All it takes is one day to start that downward trend,” said Wilson.
With every new obstacle, find alternatives that will bring you closer to attaining your goal. Never give up.
Tequitia Andrews has written about parenting and family issues for several newspapers, magazines and websites.