How are those exercise and health related New Year’s resolutions coming along? If you’re like most people, they went by the way side about three weeks ago. We have such good intentions, yet often fail to keep them. We don’t make them a priority or life intervenes and we get off track and just give up. Here are some of my personal tips I use to keep my exercise and healthy eating 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 can seem overwhelming. After one failed week, you may give up all together. 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.
Personally, I dislike running. Yet it is one of the most convenient, accessible cardio workouts available. Even though my goal is to run at least 30 minutes each cardio session, I tell myself I only have to run for ten minutes. If after ten minutes I want to quit, I can. Guess what? I rarely do. On the other hand, if I know I have to run for thirty minutes, I procrastinate or come up with reasons not to. A goal of ten minutes gets me on the treadmill or out the door, and once I’m in motion, I stay in motion.
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 (I know, you have to look into your arteries for this!). Setting short term goals provides quicker successes and keeps you motivated for the long term.
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. My husband gets up at 4:30 am twice a week to head to the gym. His gym bag is set out and clothes are ready. If he had to open drawers and pull shoes out of the closet at that early hour, chances are he’d elect to stay in bed. And I’d kill him for making noise so early!
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! Audibly if you have to. Be gone you wretched temptation!
Make Exercise Your Friend, Not Your Enemy
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 life style as your friend, and after a while you won’t be pretending anymore!
You Will Stumble , 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! While I’m not recommending it, if you listen to that inner voice telling you it’s okay not to exercise for a week you haven’t failed. Just don’t keep listening. Get back on your plan.
A few years ago, I resolved to eat healthier. Part of that plan was to eliminate chips from my diet. Guess what? I eat chips. Not every day or every week, but occasionally. But giving into the temptation of them once (or twice…) doesn’t mean I tell myself, “Well, you’ve eaten that bag, you might as well eat the next one.” No. I stumbled because the salt was calling me, but the next day I resolved again. And I’ve resolved many times since. So 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 help you stay on track with yours!