Have you ever tried to start a fitness routine or diet and failed after a few weeks? Change is hard and if you haven’t stayed consistent since your high school days it can become an obstacle year after year. As a certified personal trainer, I have some methods to help you find the underlying reason(s) you have fell short of reaching your goals.
#1 The Spark
Whenever someone decides to make a change it usually comes from an external source. Whether it happens inside of a fitting room shuffling into skinny jeans or trying to find a dress for an event and nothing looks right, something ignites the idea that you are not satisfied. A girlfriend with the great style can invoke an inner voice saying, “Hey! Why don’t I look like her?!” Whatever the moment, it stirs a longing inside to begin the process to change.
#2 Change for YOU
Above all else the reason you want to lose weight, tone up, or eat healthier has to come from within. Do not let external reasons or society be your guiding torch, it will burn out and you will be left in the dark. Hold yourself up and fight for your goals. Take a walk to reflect on your past struggles and the reasons you have failed in the past. Make yourself a priority and be honest.
#3 PROS & CONS
No matter what type of lifestyle change you make, there will be positives and negatives. If you have a full load at work, a partner, kids, or commitments, change will be even harder to navigate. Look at the way your new fitness goals will impact your life and the people in it. Changing your diet and relationship with food is not easy. Reflect on your past experiences and understand your habits.
In order to build a successful fitness strategy, you must determine your goals. Is it to lose ten pounds? Fit into a size 6 pants? Have more energy with the kids? Goals are personal and should reflect what you desire. Take a hard look in the mirror. What do you see and what do you want to see? Making small goals along with major ones will help you stick with exercise.
#5 Schedule a Timeline
Most individuals will start seeing results in 2-3 months with consistent training and diet. Cardio is paramount for weight loss. Therefore, aim to workout at least three to five times a week. Take a look at your schedule and find consistent times to work out. Be realistic. If you are not a morning person, trying to work out at 6:00 AM probably isn’t the best idea. If you have kids, try working out at home during nap time. This will allow for minimal interruptions and consistency. If you are interested in a gym, see if it offers personal training or group classes. Most gyms will offer a free personal training session and assessment. You can ask questions and determine if a personal trainer is right for you.
#6 Fitness is FUN!
Variety is the spice of life and is important in any fitness regimen. Find what motivates and excites you! If you hate running, but want a great cardio, try a Spin or Zumba class. Confused about how to use free weights or machines? Schedule a personal trainer to help get you started. If you are confident in what you are doing in the gym, you will feel more inclined to return. Don’t be intimidated. Grab a friend and push each other to achieve success.
#7 Food is a Choice
Food will always be a hurdle. Learning how to make better decisions is a skill and educating yourself about your health is an important process. Research your Body Mass Index (BMI) and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to understand the calories you need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Understand how many calories are in the foods you eat often and determine what needs to change. Weight loss is a simple equation, calories in versus calories out. Of course, consulting a doctor is paramount before starting any diet, but realizing your weaknesses will also bring you closer to achieving your goals. Start a food journal, take out one junk food item each week out of your grocery cart, and make fresh meals at home.
Tracking your progress will not only keep you motivated, but also fulfilled. Reflect on the hurdles you encountered and the changes you made. Discuss your fitness plan with friends and family who will support you. Beware of people in your life who will try to sabotage your progress and results. Avoid the break room at work if someone brings in a treat for a special occasion. If you have an upcoming event, such as a bridal shower or birthday party, plan ahead and eat something healthy before to minimize the potential for overindulging.
Over time, health and fitness will become a way of life. Keep making new goals and challenge yourself to be better, inside and out. Perceptions of food will change and fitness will gradually become a normal habit. Eventually it will be less of a chore to drive to the gym or put on your shoes for a hike. Use fitness as a stress reliever and a time to escape.
With my experience, I have never encountered a client who regretted a workout. It is important to start small and know your limits. Over time you will get stronger and have more energy to do things you never thought were possible. Sign up for a 5K, change up your routine with a workout DVD, or create a monthly meet up with friends to discuss challenges. Change takes time, but if you are willing to start the possibilities are endless!