It's the new year yet again, and to a lot of people that means setting fitness resolutions that they hope to achieve in 2004, but more than likely will miserably fail three months later! To avoid being a failed resolution victim, I've compiled six steps to help you stick to your fitness goals and break the cliche that resolutions never work.
Instead of saying "I resolve to do more cardio this year," be specific about your goal. List your resolution with as much detail as possible for ease of tracking your progress.
You need to state your goal as well as a means to accomplishing it. A better solution to this resolution would be "I resolve to do 30 minutes of cardio, 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings."
You may have a specific goal set, but if it's too unrealistic you will quickly fail at achieving it, and be disappointed in your failure. Set reasonable goals that fit into your current career and social life, and still allow for sleep and relaxation.
For instance, if you aim to do one hour of cardio each morning 7 days a week before going to work, but have to report to work at 6:00AM and take evening classes until 10:00PM, it is highly unlikely you will wake up at 3:30AM to do cardio in the morning! A better option would be to do cardio right after work, and/or on the weekends or your days off.
Measure Your Success
We humans like to keep track of everything in numbers. We memorize sports statistics to determine who the "best" athlete is. We use grades to report how smart we are at school work. So, why not measure your fitness success with numbers as well? It gives you a concrete report of your progress (or regress) that you can tangibly measure and alter, if needed.
Keep a workout journal if your goal is exercise-related, and/or a nutrition journal if your goal is diet-related. There are no rules for workout and diet journals. You don't have to count every minute of exercise and every last calorie consumed. Keeping a basic journal is better than none at all.
Track your weight and body fat, if possible, once a week or every two weeks to keep tabs on your progress, and reassess if necessary. You can even reward yourself every two weeks for reaching small goals, such as losing 2 lbs. of fat, or not missing a workout, or eating clean for 2 whole weeks without a cheat meal.
Rewards help keep you motivated and are a great way to stick to your long-term goals.
Short-Term & Long-Term
Split your goals up into short- and long-term. For instance, if your overall goal is to lose 30 lbs., break that up into losing 6 lbs. a month, 18 lbs. after 3 months, and so on so that you can track your "mini goals" leading toward your ultimate goal.
This process makes your long-term goals seem more attainable, and it keeps you motivated toward the next step. Taking it one week at a time with your fitness goals helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Stay true to your goals, but understand that unexpected situations occur that might temporarily inhibit you reaching your objectives. For example, if you suddenly catch a cold and can't train for a week, don't give up! Rest is just as important for the body as training.
Take the time off you need to recover and come back to the gym recharged and ready to resume your program.
Setbacks happen and they happen to everyone. The difference between success and failure is those who are able to bounce back from these setbacks, and those who cannot.
After several months, sit back and review your journals to reflect on your progress and make changes if necessary. If it's been 3 months since you set an initial goal of doing 3 weekly cardio sessions, you can try increasing that to 4-5 sessions for the next 3 months.
As your fitness level increases, your goals will need to change. Just keep the five previous steps in mind when reassessing your goals, and you will be able to more easily obtain them.
Best wishes for all your fitness goals!