It’s about time for a resolution restart.
By now, your commitment to exercising more in 2018 is probably waning. According to ongoing research by Gold’s Gym, Feb. 9 (this Friday) typically marks the “fitness cliff,” whereby people who had resolved to go to the gym regularly stop showing up.
If you’re one of those resolution-makers, take heart. There are plenty of ways to restart your commitment to exercise.
Set smaller goals. A lot of times, New Year’s resolutions fall into the “think big” category. People vow to go to the gym every day, lose 25 pounds and eat better all the time. While that all sounds good, it may be too much to take on all at once.
Give yourself permission to scale back. Tackle those goals one at a time. Try to get to the gym a couple of times this week, and maybe get in a walk outside on another day. Add in the diet changes slowly, replacing one of your vices with something more healthful, and then build on that with additional changes each week.
Nicole Elliott, membership director at Midlothian Athletic Club, said over-reaching is often a setup for failure. Setting smaller goals, she said, takes the pressure off and often helps individuals create a workout habit.
Cut yourself some slack.
If you fail to accomplish your goal one week, don’t give up altogether. Get back on track the next week.
Life is always going to present challenges, in the form of work and family commitments, that make it tough to squeeze in workouts. Some weeks might be better than others, but if you keep pushing to be more active, you’ll find ways to get it done.
Enlist a buddy. This is one of my favorite ways to renew a commitment to exercise. When you work out on your own, it’s easier to talk yourself out of it or skip it because something pops up on your schedule.
When you’ve committed to meeting someone for a workout, it’s a different story.
Wendy Campbell, owner of Victory Lady Fitness Center on West Broad Street in Henrico County, said, “Accountability is very important — maybe one of the most important aspects — when it comes to sticking with a fitness program.”
Pay ahead. If you tend to blow off workouts regularly, you might benefit from paying for a set number of sessions with a personal trainer. That way, you’ve committed financially and can put those sessions on your calendar, and not let anything get in the way of them.
While this may sound expensive (particularly if you already have a gym membership), it may help you get in the habit of carving out time for workouts, and may make a huge difference in your routine in the long run.
Get in something, even if it’s short. You don’t need an hour to get in a good exercise session. So, instead of blowing it off altogether when your time gets tight, see whether you can fit in 15 minutes, or a half-hour.
Campbell said, “We push HIIT and Tabata training here at the club.” HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training; Tabata is a format that involves 20 seconds of maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of recovery.
“You can do 14 minutes of Tabata on a cardio piece and/or a class, and you’re out the door,” she said. “Something is better than nothing.”
Find something you like.
This one almost goes without saying, except that some people forget to take this into consideration. Maybe you signed up in January for a military-style workout program at the advice of a friend, and you’ve discovered you hate it. Chances are, you won’t be sticking with it.
Try out all kinds of workouts (many programs offer free trial sessions), and decide what appeals to you the most.
Remember, non-traditional exercise is OK. You don’t have to go to a gym to work out. You might find that you enjoy getting outside with one of the local Meetup hiking groups, or you love going to a hip-hop dance instruction class. Those types of activities can work up a sweat just as well as getting on a cardio machine at the gym.
Tap into technology. You’ve heard of the Fitbit and other activity-tracking devices. If you’re motivated by numbers, this is the way to go. See how many days a week you can rack up 10,000 steps, which is the target goal set by the American Heart Association.
Or, hit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations by getting in 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Can’t get out of the house because of bad weather? Look no further than your computer or television for workout guidance. Free workouts are plentiful these days, so there really are no excuses when it comes to being stuck inside for a few days.
Of course, non-exercisers can always find some kind of excuse. But if you really want to get back on track with your New Year’s resolution, don’t fall off that “fitness cliff” on Friday. Make a plan to do better in 2018, and stick with it.