While making your resolutions or setting new fitness goals for 2018, it’s important to realize that taking the actions to achieve those goals needs time. You have to take daily steps in order to make your goals a reality – especially for your fitness success. This involves making changes to your daily schedule.
It’s better if you commit to making small changes in your daily routine instead of reinventing yourself overnight because you are more likely to stick with it.
Small changes in habits can lead to lasting, permanent change. So think baby steps and incorporate exercise into your life with these tips:
- Develop a “move more” mindset
Carving out a specific hour of a day for a workout is great (and we will get to that in a little bit) but first, start each day with the mindset to move more. By reminding your body to get more movement throughout the day, you will be more likely to do it. So sit less and stand more. Take more steps and stairs. Walk to talk with a co-worker instead of emailing them. Stretch in your chair, squat to pick something up, park far away from stores so you will walk more, stand up when you talk on the phone and do some exercises while you watch TV. There are numerous ways you can sneak more movement into your day. Begin each day with a move more mindset and you will find them.
- Commit to regular activity
You may not be the type of person who wants to train for a triathlon and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to become a fitness buff to benefit from exercise and movement. Start by committing to getting activity regularly. Schedule exercise like any other appointment on your calendar and treat it as a commitment rather than something you squeeze in if you have time. Even if you can only allot 15 minutes at a time, schedule it. Take a short walk. Walk at a leisurely pace at first if exercise is new to you. You can build up to a power walk. If that’s not your thing, take a fitness class, swim laps or sign up for dance classes. Whatever exercise you start, build up slowly so you don’t overwhelm yourself and give up.
- Focus on health and strength and what it means to you, and not on numbers on a scale
Many people can get easily discouraged and give up when there’s too much emphasis on weight loss. Rather than an exclusive focus on weight loss, focus on the joys of exercise and movement instead. Take pride in your body getting stronger or your new ability to able to exercise longer, even if it’s just in baby steps. Think about the great way your body feels after exercise and the exhilaration you feel. Most likely what motivates you runs much deeper than getting skinnier or being a specific set of three numbers on a scale. Identify what it is for you. Maybe you want to have more energy for your children or grandchildren or you want to be in more control of your health—whatever is your core motivation—connect to it.
- Add strength training to your weekly routine
Exercise isn’t just cardio alone. Strength training is critically important to retain muscle as you age, have a strong body and an effective metabolism. Even if you focus on just one muscle group a day and do three different exercises with three sets of 15 each for that muscle group you will benefit. You can divide strength training up throughout the week. Try two days a week to start and work up to three. Strength training will change how you feel, help you conquer your workouts with all that new muscle you are developing, and it’s the secret to a revved up metabolism.
- Put yourself first
Stressful situations can take your focus away from properly caring for yourself. If you neglect yourself for the sake of external problems, you will be creating more problems than you are solving. Make sure you consider what you need and do something—however small—for yourself each day. Even if you only have 15 minutes, just commit to 15 minutes. It all goes back to the oxygen philosophy you hear about on planes flight attendants advice: “Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.” Put the mask on you first and then your children. You aren’t able to effectively take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Keep that in mind.
- Exercise with a group
Exercise doesn’t have to be a solo sport. Make it an outing with friends and family. When you join up with others to exercise, not only do you get the immediate benefits of exercise, you also get time spent with friends—a double deposit into your well-being. When you discover physical activities and forms of exercise you love, you develop a sense of camaraderie and community with others. Accountability works.
- Look to the future
Don’t get caught up in guilt or regret because you haven’t worked out or don’t beat yourself up if it has been a while. Guilt and regret only make you feel badly, they don’t get you where you are headed. With a simple decision in your mind, you can let go of what you did or didn’t do and just start again. Look forward. If you are feeling badly about yourself, you are less likely to make positive change. Start over with a clear plan of what you will commit to doing each day for your health.
- Avoid stop-start-stop syndrome
One great way to kill your confidence is to constantly start and stop your exercise routine. It’s common for people to get psyched up and dive in to working out and then drop it altogether when the craziness of life intervenes. But if you start and stop all the time, you are setting yourself up for a never-ending cycle, where you won’t see any progress. Don’t tackle the world in a day. Think baby steps. Think of what you can do and schedule today even if it’s small increments of time that you eventually build upon. Commit to what you can achieve, at least at first.
- Remind yourself daily of your why
It’s easy to get off track if you aren’t reminding yourself of why working out and eating healthy is important to you. This goes back to your core motivation that we addressed earlier. If you make it automatic to wake up and remind yourself of why exercise is important to you, you will be more likely to keep your commitments to yourself. You also will be putting exercise front and centre on your day instead of treating it as an afterthought that you skip at day’s end. Wake up thinking of what exercise you will do today and it becomes a priority.
Stick to these tips and you’ll be sure to have working out form a part of your daily routine!