Deciding and acting upon a fitness goal shouldn’t be reserved purely for New Year’s. If you have been thinking about making some healthy changes to your current lifestyle, like going to the gym more often, or running more frequently, then it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. Fitness doesn’t always have to be a struggle. Following the steps outlined below will help you make exercising a habit, and set you up to succeed at achieving your new, healthy lifestyle.
Be realistic: Start by picking one small goal. One. And then stick with it for 21 days to a month to form the habit. A common trap that many people fall into is picking multiple goals, or aiming too high. This will, in all honesty, set you up for failure. Deciding that you are going to run five miles every day, when you currently run zero, will result in excuses such as “I don’t have time”, “I’m too sore from yesterday”, “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, or “Eh, that jog to the mailbox was good enough”. Set yourself up for success. Pick a realistic goal.
Build on your success: Changing your lifestyle and forcing your body to adapt to a small, new habit is hard enough. You are not a Ferrari. You do not need to go 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds. The way to create a successful gym habit is to keep your small momentum going, build on your previous efforts, and eventually work yourself up to a full-on workout schedule. This can be as simple as adding an extra ten minutes to your workout each week. This way, before you know it, you will be hitting the gym for two hours at a time and thinking to yourself “When did this happen?” Check out these tips to improve each workout, if you find yourself struggling at the gym.
Eliminate excuses: Accountability is key. Meaning, don’t even give yourself the option of skipping out on a workout, healthy meal, run, or what-have-you. Fatty-proof your kitchen by throwing out the junk food. Block pizza-delivery websites from your computer. Put your alarm clock in a hard-to-reach place, so you have to get out of bed and work out in the morning. And while many of us lack the willpower to hold ourselves accountable, chances are your significant other/roommate/friend/sibling will take great joy in calling you out on your excuses. Once I had to pay my roommate $1 for every potato chip I ate. So no more excuses, hold yourself accountable for your health.
Enjoy exercising: You are much more likely to succeed at your goal of working out more frequently if you enjoy your workouts. Choose from workouts from a variety of activities such as running, swimming, hiking, walking, cycling, barre, CrossFit, weights, and yoga. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you enjoy doing it!
Start now: Procrastination is the ultimate fitness black hole. Every single day you put off exercising, it will become harder to start. Gym employees actually have a nickname for people who continuously enter a gym and “think about” joining, but never actually exercise: “Stay fats”. Don’t be a “stay fat”. Get fit. Start today.