The time of New Years resolutions is upon us and while I have never cared much for these famed resolutions I do know that becoming more fit tops the list of many people when it comes to making a major change for the new year. The goal of this post is to give you some specific keys that will set up you up for success in a new fitness program. Here goes..
1. Set a Schedule and a Game Plan
When you are getting ready to make a change in your lifestyle that will require a time commitment along with strategic scheduling and preparation it is important to develop a game plan that you can easily adhere to. Telling yourself you are going to workout 3x a week won't cut it. This type of plan is too vague and allows you to "opt" out of the obligation too easily.
Your best bet is to lay out a detailed breakdown of your weekly schedule including the times you work, pick up the kids, go to sports practices, etc... Once you have all of your time obligations laid out pencil in specifically the days and times you are going to go to the gym. An example would be Monday from 3-4pm, Wednesday from 5-6pm, and Friday 6-7am.
Writing it down and actually scheduling these times will not only hold you more accountable but will make the activity more purposeful as well.
2. Embrace the Bumps Along the Way
One of the biggest things I see when people start a new fitness program or begin a more active lifestyle is the effect it has mentally during the initial stages. Beginning to workout and eat healthier will make the body "rebel" initially if you are not accustomed to these habits.
You will feel discomfort, soreness, mood swings, and potentially even some mild digestive discomfort as your body adjusts physiologically to the introduction of exercise. This is completely normal and you just have to "ride it out" for the first few weeks. Eventually however your body will adapt and you will be amazed at how noticeably you begin to have more energy, sleep better, and have improved mood and digestion. Give your program a good 6 weeks before making any tweaks.
3. Focus on the Fundamentals
Now more than ever we are inundated with a greater number of fitness options than we can possibly understand. There are bootcamps, zumba, yoga, spinning, step classes, crossfit, and the list goes on... So what the heck is right?
I always advise that the focus of ANY fitness program should always first and foremost be STRENGTH. The more strength you are able to build the more competent you will become in other activities as strength is the foundation for all athletic endeavors.
The initial focus should be the simple exercises that I call the BIG 4. These four exercises include SQUATS, DEADLIFTS, OVERHEAD PRESSES, and PULL UPS. In essence every time you step in the gym do some form of squatting, picking something up from the floor, pressing something over your head, and pulling of your bodyweight up-ward or pulling of something toward you. Get very strong at these 4 things and you are sure to see some results.
4. Set Specific Benchmarks for Yourself
Goal setting is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Working toward something specific allows you to have greater mental focus, drive, and purpose when you are training. Just simply "getting fit" is not enough of a viable goal to keep you committed for the long haul.
Many of my clients have goals such as doing 1 pull up, squatting their body weight, running a mile under 7 minutes, or being able to do 50 push ups without stopping. Any of these goals are great as they give you something to strive for, specific checkpoints, and a sense of accomplishment.
5. Take Time to Reward Your Efforts
Finally, remember to reward yourself for your hard work. As humans we are innately driven by reward for our achievements. It's the reason we get good grades, get promoted at work, and enjoy relaxing vacations. When we work hard we want to feel as though that hard work will result in a payoff of some sort.
A good way to stay motivated is to promise yourself a shopping trip for 3 months of consistent workouts, a 90 massage 1 once a month to compliment your hard work in the gym, or even a decadent dinner out each month to celebrate your consistency. These are all great ways to reward yourself for staying disciplined and logging the necessary hours to achieve your goals.
These 5 strategies can be very effective to keep you on track when starting your new fitness program. Remember that you have what it takes to succeed and there are always systems of support available in the way of a significant other, a great trainer, or a workout buddy that will help hold you accountable. Just remember these 5 tips, put them into use, and you will surely succeed in achieving your goals this year.