Have you ever resolved to get back on track with your fitness program on a Monday, before summer, or after the New Year?
Whether you want to turn over a new leaf, get that 6-pack, or simply get back on course with your fitness program, many well-intentioned people vaguely set "a day" in which they resolve to get back on track to a regular fitness program.
If for some reason Monday or New Year's well intentioned plan goes off course, the whole thing usually gets abandoned for another frustrating week, month or year. This can lead up to more unwanted pounds and less resolve to reach your fitness goals. Even though we have all the resources within our fingertips, all the resources in the world are useless if we can't get ourselves to apply it.
With the weekend, holidays, and maybe a few extra pounds now behind you (literally and figuratively), it's easy to lose your resolve, motivation, and determination—the same disciplines needed to reach and maintain your goals.
Getting Off Track
Why do many people have trouble making exercise a regular habit and keeping on track with their fitness program?
One of the biggest reasons people drop their exercise routine is because of failing to plan and prepare for the long-haul. After a few over-zealous weeks enthusiasm seems to fade and eventually you realize that a regular exercise program is a long-term commitment, not something you can accomplish in a few weeks.
Another reason exercise programs fail is because they are too difficult. Many people set out with a lot of ambition and enthusiasm and start out with some big goals: "I'm going to do 50 push-ups every day" or "I'm going to jog 45 minutes every day" and set goals that are too difficult to sustain for very long. You may be able to pull off a few days, but soon you run out of energy and you scrap the whole program.
Finally, we set out to do too much. We set goals to do cardio, lift weights, eat healthy, quit sweets, stop drinking soda, go to bed earlier, and quit drinking alcohol. While each of these is a great goal, they are a bit overwhelming to take on all at once.
The problem with establishing multiple goals is that you cannot completely focus on one goal if you're trying to do all the others at the same time. As a result, you get frustrated, your fitness program gets derailed, and you fall off the track, resuming old habits like eating junk food and skipping workouts.
Getting Back On Track
If you are ready to get back on track and make a change to a healthier lifestyle, don't wait for Monday, the New Year, or the "right time." There will never be a right time to resolve. The time to resolve is now.
Resolve is a matter of applying yourself with discipline every day. The kind of focus and self-control you need to have a better chance of success meeting, and maintaining, your fitness goals.
Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your strength and balance, help you lose weight, and even improve your self-esteem.
If you find the prospect of taking on yet another project a bit overwhelming, you may find it helpful to create a plan and divide the work into manageable pieces. The good news? You're only a few steps away from getting back on the fitness track!
1. Flex Your Mental Muscle
Often, the first muscle to train is your mind. Losing weight or lifting weights is as much about motivation, desire and discipline as it is about just diet and exercise. First make a mental decision that a fitness program is something you want to do and take the time to focus on the reason you want to do it.
You will get much more out of your efforts if you focus on the factors that are prompting you to change rather than just making the change. If your initial mental commitment is not there, you may soon find that your excuses are getting the better of your program.
Take time to examine the reasons you have making the changes you desire. You may find that starting with your mental muscle is the most important exercise of all.
2. Get Medical Clearance
This may necessitate a complete physical exam to make sure that it is safe to start an exercise routine and to make sure that the exercises you are going to do are not going to cause any problems with any pre-existing health conditions, especially if you are overweight, sedentary, over 35-years old, have known heart problems or a family history, or any other medical condition that would require you to restrict or modify your exercises.
3. Establish Specific Goals For Your Program
What do you want to achieve through your fitness program? Establishing goals will help to keep you motivated and will also help you decide what you want to achieve from your program.
Using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic) are better than vague, general goals. Saying you want to get in shape by summer is a vague goal, but saying that you want to lose 10 pounds by June by doing cardio three times a week is specific, measurable, attainable and realistic. Say exactly what you mean to accomplish.
4. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Dress comfortably with clothing that allows proper air circulation and choose fabrics that can readily absorb perspiration.
Choose clothing that won't restrict your movement and that has just a few zippers or buttons or none at all. Wear quality athletic shoes that provide good arch support. Dress for the climate. In cold climates, it is a good idea to dress in layers to keep muscles warm and to keep warm after the exercise session.
5. Establish A Specific And Regular Time To Exercise
There really isn't a time of day that is any better than another, but it helps to pick a time when you feel most energetic. If you are not a morning person why not establish late morning, afternoon or evening exercise sessions.
With a little research or the help of a personal trainer, you should establish a regular routine of weight and cardio training that includes small progressions to continue to challenge your body - and keep you from getting bored with your routine.
6. Keep A Journal
Record the exercises you performed, the weight you lifted, and the number of sets and repetitions. This will help to keep your consistent with your exercise program, eliminate missing exercises, and help when you want to progress in your exercises.
7. Find An Exercise Buddy
People who have an exercise partner are more likely to stick with their routine by a whopping 90%! Choose someone you know who has similar goals and will help to motivate you. A partner not only provides you with accountability but also helps to push you on those days when you are feeling less than motivated.
8. Take A Class
If the thought of performing 45 minutes on the treadmill bores you to tears, then mix it up by taking an exercise class.
A class can add variety and excitement through upbeat music, group support and specific exercises to keep you on track. Boot camps that alternate cardio with weights have become increasingly popular over the last few years and many gyms even offer outdoor fitness classes.
9. Warm Up Prior To Starting Your Exercise
A warm-up prepares the body for the vigorous demands of exercise by increasing blood flow to the heart and to exercising muscles, elevating your body temperature, loosening up muscles, increasing your heart rate, and can help reduce injury. A general warm-up should last about 5-10 minutes and consist of light aerobic activity like walking, cycling or some jumping jacks.
10. After Your Workout, Finish With A Cool-Down
A proper cool-down assures that venous return to the heart is maintained in the face of significant amounts of blood going to the previously working muscles.
Cool down exercises can be the same as your warm-up. Simple active movements help your body to return to its resting state. Gentle stretching is also recommended to ease delayed onset muscle soreness that may occur. A general cool-down should last about 5-10 minutes and stretching should include all the major muscles of the body.
11. Say Good-Bye To Diets And Hello To Proper Nutrition
Create a healthy meal plan that works for you, based on your budget, tastes and goals. Resolve to eat clean with lean proteins, fibrous vegetables, complex grains and carbohydrates, fruits, healthy fats and lots of water.
Keep a food journal. If you bite it, then write it down. If you are not logging your diet, you'll never know what is or isn't working or give you an idea about you where you can be making changes.
Muscles grow outside of the gym. The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts and during sleep. Not giving yourself proper rest, sleep and recovery time, will weaken even the greatest athlete. Rest is necessary so that your muscles can go through the process of repairing, rebuilding and strengthening.
Starting or resuming an exercise program is an important and personal decision. But it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can get back on track and stay there to help establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
You will soon experience some interesting things that are really amazing when your mind and body start to work together.
When you muster resolve, you find you have more energy. Once momentum picks up, you'll start to see results. You will walk taller. You will eat better. You will feel stronger. You will have more confidence. Most of all, you will be motivated and focused.
Embrace this focus. Harness and hold tight to this resolve because nothing works better for you than when you feel determined and in control. You are back on track!
You will love the results.
About The Author:
Diana Rini is an ACE Personal Trainer, business owner, and national figure competitor. She focuses on educating her clients how to safely and effectively lose weight, get in shape and improve their lifestyle habits. View their website at www.matteroffitness.com.