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It’s 2013 at last, and the world didn’t end in 2012 as the Mayans predicted. That means you have an entire new year to accomplish your goals. Hopefully one of them will be to get fit. Being active and physically fit will improve every part of your life, but, as with anything else, the key is consistency. How many times have you made a New Year resolution to “get into shape” and not followed through? You may have been gung-ho the first week or two, but your enthusiasm slowly dwindled and you went back to your former couch potato habits. Make it different this year. We want to share some tips with you that will make it easier to follow through on your fitness goals in 2013.
Get a Dose of Reality
When you set your fitness goals this year, start small. If you try to take on too much too soon, you’ll end up frustrated and unmotivated. I remember a lady who belonged to the same health club we did years ago. At the start of the New Year, she was there sweating and groaning as she tried to fit a week’s worth of activity into a single day. After talking to her, she admitted she did the same thing every year – exercise like crazy for four or five days and then give up out of fatigue and frustration – only to repeat the process again the next year. Imagine how frustrated she must feel.
Don’t let that happen to you. Make your goals realistic and achievable. Start out walking ten minutes and gradually increase the time and intensity each week as you build up fitness and confidence in your ability. Set yourself up for small victories by being able to complete the goals you set. There’s plenty of time to push yourself harder as your fitness level improves. It may be beneficial to schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer in the beginning to help you set your goals – and ensure they’re realistic. You’ll probably be enthusiastic in the beginning, but if you push yourself too hard too quickly, you’ll end up burned out or even injured. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. Take it slowly.
Make Your Fitness Goals Specific
Bad Goal: I want to work out at the gym or at home for an hour a day and lose 20 pounds.
Good Goal: I want to work out 10 minutes a day and increase the duration of my workouts by 5 minutes each week. I want to lose 2 pounds a month.
See the difference? One is something that’s achievable. After all, most of us can spare 10 minutes a day to get healthy, and you can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts over time. Saying you want to lose 20 pounds is too vague. Give it a time frame. It’s not unrealistic to lose between 2 and 5 pounds a month through exercise, diet and lifestyle changes.
Once you have a realistic goal, break it down into achievable steps. For example, walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill or outdoors for 10 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and work out with resistance bands on Tuesday and Thursday. If going to the gym won’t fit into your schedule and you have limited time to work out at home, wear a pedometer every day and increase the number of steps you take each week by a certain number. The more specific your goals, the more you can define what, how and when the better.
Make Yourself Accountable
Once you’ve established your SPECIFIC fitness goals, start a fitness journal to document your progress. Begin by writing down your goals along with your body weight, resting heart rate, body fat percentage, blood pressure etc. Each day include an entry with the time you worked out, the exercises you did, number of reps, weight used etc. and how you felt during your workout. If you exercise on a treadmill, list the speed, elevation and how long you exercised. Once a week, recheck your weight, heart rate, blood pressure and body fat percentage and record the value so you can monitor your progress. It’s important to make yourself accountable. A fitness journal will help you do that.
The Importance of Having Flexible Goals
Sometimes despite your best intentions, life hands you a problem that makes it hard to work out for a period of time. That’s when many people give up and quit. If you have to take a few days off, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on schedule as soon as you can – and keep this in mind. There may be days when you can only fit in 10 minutes. Exercise isn’t an “all or none” thing. Do what you can when you’re strapped for time, even if it’s only taking a quick walk around the block.
When you reach a short-term goal, reward yourself with something non-food related. Schedule a pedicure, a massage, get a new haircut or spend a half-day shopping in your favorite stores. You deserve it!
The Bottom Line?
Make this the year fitness becomes part of your lifestyle – not something you quit after two weeks. Imagine how much healthier you’ll be – and how much better you’ll feel. It’s all worth it.