In 2016, the number one New Year's resolution was to get fit in 2017. Getting fit is a laudable, important goal. Not only does it boost your energy, help you lose weight, and make you feel better about yourself, a fit body seriously improves your health by warding off chronic disease and keeping your heart healthy. But, by February 2017, only 37% of people in their 20s and 16% of people in their 50s stuck to their fitness resolutions.
Make 2018 different. Don’t just resolve to get fit – make a plan. Use the following tips to keep you on track and reap the benefits.
- Set manageable goals. You're ambitious. That's good. But it can also be your downfall when it comes to a fitness plan. If you try to do too much too soon, you're far more likely to mentally and physically burn out. Instead of committing to a strict daily regimen lasting for hours, start slowly and work from your current fitness level.
If this is your first foray into the workout world, or you're coming back from a long hiatus, maybe commit to no more than 30 minutes a day, three times per week. Make these workouts relatively mild, consisting of a walk or light bike ride.
As the weeks progress, increase the length of your workouts, and add another day or two. Then, pepper in other activities. Once you’ve established a routine, join a gym and take a few fitness classes, run instead of walk, or sign up for a race.
- Set yourself up for success. Committing to a 5:00 a.m. jog every day when you're a night owl who hates running is a surefire way to fail. Make a plan to which you can stick. Recognize your strengths and interests.
If you're more energetic in the afternoon, carve out time at lunch or after work to exercise. Explore a multitude of workouts, too. Don't make exercise a chore. If you love dancing, hit a Zumba class. If you have a little pent-up aggression, maybe cardio kickboxing is more of your style. Enjoy team sports? Find a local pick-up basketball league.
- Stay out of ruts. It's easy to get stuck on one type of exercise, only to see your results plateau. Yes, you want to find something you enjoy, but don't forget to vary that activity. If you love the class atmosphere of Zumba, attend a weight-training class occasionally to experience the energy of a group during muscle building. When you've done cardio machines three days in a row, consider heading to the yoga studio for a stretch.
An excellent way to plan your goals is to hit three cardio, two strength, and one flexibility workout per week. Spend at least 40-45 minutes doing each exercise. What you choose to do to fulfill those requirements is up to you, however, and might vary week-to-week. This keeps your fitness routine interesting.
- Find your why. Superficial goals, such as looking good for a summer beach vacation or an upcoming reunion, are fleeting. And, once you’ve reached the event – you lose motivation. But, if you set your fitness goals to challenge yourself and not let yourself down, you’re more likely to stick with them.
Other intrinsic motivating goals include improving your health, reducing reliance on medication, or being in good shape to keep up with your kids or grandkids.
- Give yourself grace. Fitness is a lifetime pursuit. You may start strong in 2018, only to find yourself fall off track by mid-February. That doesn't mean you're done. If you have to start over again in March, you can start over. Whatever happens, don't give up on yourself. Baby steps are still steps forward.
Sticking to your fitness goals in 2018 will require changes to your lifestyle, but they'll be worth it in the long run. Remind yourself that being physically fit helps you feel better, allows you to maintain a healthy weight, and wards off health problems for a better, healthier you. Your mind and body will thank you.