How are those exercise and health-related New Year’s resolutions coming along? If you’re like most people, they went by the wayside about three weeks ago. Studies show that 80% of resolutions fail. We have such good intentions, yet often fail to keep them because we don’t make them a priority or life intervenes. We get off track and just give up. Here are some tips I use to keep my personal exercise goals on track.
Set Realistic, Achievable Goals
If you’ve not had an exercise routine in the past and all of a sudden you are setting the goal of five times a week it may seem overwhelming. After one failed week, you may give up altogether. Instead, set a goal you know you can keep. Even if you start with one day a week, it’s one day more than you were active before. As you progress, and begin to enjoy the benefits of exercise, you’ll want to add more days.
Lastly, don’t think about how long it will take you to reach your weight or health goals. Rather think about how you will feel after today’s workout or not eating junk food for a week. Visualize your cholesterol levels going down. Feel your muscles getting stronger. Setting short term goals provides quicker successes and keeps you motivated for the long term.
Use Mind Tricks To Keep Your Exercise Goals On Track
If your goal is at least 30 minutes each cardio session, but the thought of 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical is causing you to procrastinate, tell yourself you only have to run for ten minutes. If after ten minutes you want to quit, then do. But guess what? You probably won’t. A goal of ten minutes will get you on the treadmill. But a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
If you have a favorite television show or podcast only allow yourself to watch/listen to it while exercising. Now you’ve turned your exercise time into a reward.
Make a Plan
Know what you are planning to do each day. Yes, unforeseen obstacles may pop up, but a plan keeps you motivated and allows you to prepare. For example, if part of your plan includes going to the gym before work in the morning, have your gym bag packed and ready to go and your clothes laid out the night before.
If you are working out at home, know what your routine will be so you aren’t’ coming up with it as you go. If you are using a video or DVD, set a time you are starting it and get to class on time!
One other key point about having a plan is to never allow the thought that you don’t have to do it enter your mind. Thoughts like that are insidious and can sabotage the best of plans. If the thought, “I’m going to take today off” or “It’ll be ok if I don’t exercise today” try to sneak in, don’t even contemplate them. Banish it immediately!
Knowing what you are going to do each day – 30 minutes of cardio, upper body strength workout, a yoga class at a certain time, enables you to be on autopilot when it comes to maintaining your exercise goals.
Change Your Mindset About Exercise
A healthy lifestyle truly is a mindset. Whether it be exercise or eating healthier, you have to view it as something positive, not negative. Instead of groaning about going to the gym or ordering chicken instead of the hamburger, think positive. Phrases like “I’m so glad I get to exercise”, “I’ll feel so good after I’ve worked out” and “This chicken/salad/etc. is so good for me” help you view a healthy lifestyle as a blessing, instead of a curse. You don’t even have to believe it at first! It may take some time, but keep thinking of a healthy lifestyle as your friend, and after a while you won’t be pretending anymore!
Expect Setbacks and Resolve to Get Back Up
Unless you’ve got willpower of steel, you will stumble and have a few setbacks. That’s okay. Mary Pickford, an early film star and co-founder of United Artists, once said, “Failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Get back up! Just because you’ve listened to that inner voice telling you it’s okay not to exercise for a week doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Just don’t keep listening. Get back on your plan.
For example, say part of your plan is to eliminate added sugar from your diet (and it should be). But temptation is everywhere! Your coworker brings in teats, the chocolate piece is calling, the birthday cake is just sitting there. Giving in to the temptation of them once (or twice…) doesn’t mean you tell yourself, “Well, I’ve eaten one piece, I might as well eat the another.” No. You stumbled because the sweet was calling you. Set your resolve to keep your goals again. You may have to resolve many times. Get back up, dust yourself off, and proceed with your plan.
Remember the old cereal slogan? – Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It truly is. Yesterday’s mistakes don’t limit today’s successes.
I hope these tips I use to keep moving forward with my own fitness and health plans will help you keep your exercise goals on track too!