It’s an annual phenomenon in the fitness business. January invariably brings a crop of new members and participants who embark with great enthusiasm on the road to a new, healthier lifestyle thanks to New Year’s resolutions. Yes indeed, the plan is to get in shape, eat healthier food, get more sleep, reduce stress and have a better life.
Sadly, an alarming number of these lifestyle changers have fallen by the wayside come February. Forbes reports that 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually achieved. On any scale, that’s a pretty low number. So how come? What’s the key to staying in that 8%?
One Step At a Time
We can’t just flip a switch and completely change our habits, particularly if we’re currently sedentary and making unhealthy food choices. That’s much too difficult to sustain. A far better approach is to change one or two small things at a time. The cumulative effect will be the same in the long run.
Don’t begin with: “I’m going to work out five times a week, eat healthy every day, give up alcohol and drink 8 litres of water a day”.
How about “I’m going to make it to exercise class twice per week, eat more vegetables and drink 2 extra glasses of water daily for the next month”.
After you’ve aced that goal, keep it in place and add a new one.
Achievable = successful. Successful = sustainable.
Set Realistic Goals
We’ve all heard the old SMART rule. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bounded. Yes they should, but what the heck does that mean? Losing 30 pounds before your cruise in six weeks is not a realistic goal, nor does it fit into any of the other SMARTs. A realistic short-term goal could be: “I’m going to attend two exercise classes every week this month”. Achievement of a goal, regardless of its size and complexity, is one of the best motivators.
Find Something You Like To Do
This is absolutely the most important thing when it comes to sustainability, particularly in the early stages. If you see your workout sessions as torture, it can only become more and more difficult to keep your commitment to yourself. Ideally, you will find a form of exercise that you can really enjoy and even look forward to. Whether you’re a group fitness type or a solo workout type, there is absolutely no point in trying to commit to something if you hate every minute with a passion. Hate running? Try cycling. Hate Boot Camp? Try Zumba®. There are so many options for being active, there has to be at least one that works for you. If the exercise itself doesn’t quite make you sing, find a workout buddy or a group exercise class in which you can at least enjoy the music and the camaraderie. The rest will come later. Really.
Stay With It Long Enough to see Results
Nothing, repeat nothing, motivates like RESULTS. Stay with it long enough to see and feel the benefits. Commit to at least 6 to 8 weeks. By then, you’ll like what you’re seeing and how you’re feeling so you’ll be much less inclined to throw in the towel. Yes, those pants are a bit looser! Yes, I feel stronger when I carry my groceries! Yes, I’m standing a little taller! Yes, I feel great!
Know Why You Want to Get In Shape
Getting in shape is not a short-term goal. Improving your health and fitness has life-long benefits. What motivates you to do it? Want to look great in your short shorts next summer? Want to live longer to enjoy your grandchildren? Want to enjoy an active, better quality lifestyle? This is your long-term goal. Every short-term goal you achieve will contribute to its realization.