–by Farah Merani–
We’ve all seen it. Every January comes around and every fitness club on the planet sees a surge in memberships because everyone sets their new year resolution to get back into shape (or simply into shape for many). It’s the worst month to go to the gym because the rooms are always packed, the classes are always booked, and frankly, there’s a strange air of desperation lingering. Sure enough, by the time March hits, there’s half the number of people and things feel more normal. Whether it’s because people genuinely get busier as the year progresses or a general waning of commitment, there’s an excuse for everyone and everything. But, at the end of the day, we all know there really shouldn’t be.
So how do you stick to a fitness program when things get busy and life gets in the way? Simply put, make it an essential part of your life so it doesn’t get ‘in the way’ but on the way. Easier said than done, no doubt. Whatever your obstacles might be, here are some tips to help you stay motivated and committed.
Give yourself an attainable goal
The fastest way to lose faith and feel like a failure is feeling like you never seem to reach your goal. Avoid setting your expectations so far beyond what is reasonably achievable. Dream big but be realistic. Give yourself permission to start slowly and in a manageable way so that you can reach your target and track your progress. Every smaller goal attained psychologically reinforces your drive to keep going for the next goal. It’s a positive reinforcement loop. Eventually, you’ll have achieved your ultimate goal and you’ll feel better about yourself because you did.
Put it in the calendar
Plan your workouts in the same way that you plan a meal or an appointment. Once you’ve put it in the books, you’ve committed yourself to fulfilling the task and showing up. You’re doing it for your health and that should be reason enough.
Give yourself a treat
Setting up a sort of mini reward system will give you regular incentives to keep going. For example, every time you go to the gym, put $5 aside in a piggy bank so you can treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally. Manicure, a movie night, a nicer bottle of wine… Whatever it is, make it meaningful to you and the reward will be that much more worthwhile.
Make it fun
Sometimes workouts can be tough and tough can be good. But they shouldn’t all be so challenging on you that you begin to resent, fear, or hate them. Most importantly, you should never be harming yourself by pushing it too hard. There can be fun in fitness! If you’re a sports person, find a new team to play with. Change up your routine with a different style of work out. If you’re more of a solo kind of soul, mix up the music on your iPod or try listening to a new audiobook or podcast.
Track your progress
Whether you’re working towards a weight loss, strength or clothing goal (wedding dress and bathing suits apply here), having something specific can help you monitor how well you’re progressing. There are all kinds of logbooks available, both in virtual and physical versions, as well as a whole heap of apps that have integrated systems that can help you keep track of your workouts, offer diet plans, and even give you challenges to continue working towards. These often also have social sharing platforms so you and your friends can keep each other motivated.
Don’t give yourself a reason for excuses
Take away any possible obstacle. Join a gym close to your home or work so travel time is cut. If it’s close, there’s no excuse. Schedule your workouts when you know you’ll be able to do it regularly. If you’re not a morning person, don’t plan it in the morning because you’ll always find a reason to skip. It’s called sleep. Avoid planning things when you know you’re not going to cut into any other commitments like family dinners or work obligations. Keep it simple for yourself so it becomes easy.
Once you’ve got through the first few workouts, be proud of yourself for soldiering on and making through the hardest part; the start. Be ruthless with your commitment to yourself and stick to it. In time, you’ll have established a positive routine and what was once discipline will become a lifelong habit.
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