Have you ever started a fitness program and then quit somewhere down the line? If the answer is yes, believe me, you're not alone. There are many things that can derail you from a fitness activity or program. The key is knowing how to stay motivated, so here are a few tips to help prevent you from giving up even when you encounter bumps along the way.
1. Set realistic goals
Start with simple goals and remember to make them realistic and achievable. It's easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.
Set weekly targets, gradually adding more time and intensity. For example, if you haven't exercised in a while, a short-term goal might be to walk for 15 minutes a day, three days a week. Next might be 30 minutes, five days a week. You could set a long-term goal of starting to jog and eventually compete in a fun run or competition.
At the end of each week, take a look at how you did. If you reached your goal, celebrate! But if you didn't, think about what went wrong and how you can improve next time.
2. Schedule it
We all lead busy lives, so it's important to make fitness part of your daily routine. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity or appointment. Before you put your head on the pillow at night, know when you are going to work out the next day.
You can also slip exercise into your other activities. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park as far away as possible from the door at the grocery store. Walk up and down the sidelines when at your kid's game. If you're watching the Pats at home, hit the floor and knock out some core work during commercial breaks.
3. Log your exercise
Are you hoping to lose weight? Increase your fitness level? Manage a chronic condition? If so, you may find it helps to keep an exercise diary. Write down what you do during each workout session, how long you exercise and how you feel afterward. Recording your efforts can help you work toward your goals and serve as a reminder that you are making progress.
4. Join forces
You don't have to go it alone. Invite friends or co-workers to join you when you exercise. Working out with others can add an element of fun, provide a challenge or simply give you a healthy social scene. Get outside and run around with your kids or check out the different classes offered at your local gym.
5. Reward yourself
It sounds a bit corny, but you've got to love yourself and be proud! After each workout, take a few minutes to savor the positive feeling that exercise provides. This type of internal reward can help you make a long-term commitment to regular exercise.
External rewards can help too. Treat yourself to a new pair of training sneakers or a cool T-shirt, but remember, do not reward yourself with a cupcake and blow all that hard work.
6. Bounce back
You've set a reasonable fitness goal. You've prepared for potential problems. Yet somehow you still didn't make it to the gym today as you had planned.
For many people, this is a slippery slope. It reminds them of times when they failed before and they begin to think of themselves as exercise failures. When this happens, it's time for an attitude adjustment so you don't completely lose your motivation to exercise. If you miss the gym on Monday, that doesn't mean your whole week is shot; it simply means you need to hit the gym or get active on Tuesday.
Knowing how to exercise isn't just a matter of learning how to use your body to hold a perfect plank or swing a racquet; it also involves learning how to use your mind to propel yourself into action and stick with a fitness routine.
Start thinking of yourself as someone who exercises! That will eventually become your identity.
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