With the new year already in full swing, many of us look to make a lifestyle change. January marks the start of a whole slew of resolutions, but by far the most popular are health related, usually things like eating healthier or signing up for a gym membership. Motivation is easy to come by initially, but by mid-February we see a huge decline in attendance across most gym establishments. Why? It’s probably because people go into it with the wrong mindset. They become discouraged because results aren’t immediate and slowly stop going until they’re back to square one.
If this sounds like you, or someone you know, here are a few tips to keep you on track for the rest of the year.
Before you jump into a workout routine, know that it will take time before you see results. Changes in lifestyle are gradual – you can’t achieve that beach body within the first 2 weeks of getting your gym membership. The easiest way to fail a new year’s resolution is to jump into it with unrealistic expectations and burning out before you can reach your goal.
Set small goals to start, and make sure they’re achievable. Small, moral victories are an important component of overall success. Say “I’m going to attend the gym two times this week,” and from there you can work up to four or five times a week if your schedule permits it. Then move on to strength and fitness goals, running a mile in a certain amount of time, lifting a certain amount of weight, getting better and better every single session. It takes a series of small wins, none of which can accomplish your goal by themselves, to achieve overall victory.
Convince a friend or family member to tag along. Jessica Dannettel, operations manager at Four Seasons Sports Complex, reports that “if you sign up with family or friends, you are more apt to come in all the time. People who have someone else to work out with or have someone they are accountable to tend to be more successful.”
If you find it hard to motivate yourself, having someone else there to push you can have a huge impact on your success.
Form a Habit
You’ve probably heard the notion that it takes “21 days to form a habit,” but research suggests that it’s probably a lot longer than that. According to this TODAY article, habits took an average of 66 days to form, which is three times as long as initially thought. Sticking to a routine for two months is a lot harder than just three weeks, but the reward is worth the effort. Habits are automatic, and if activities like dieting and exercising become automatic, they become integrated into your everyday routine.
Time and place are key. As long as you make a conscious effort to repeat the same activity at the same time and place, your brain will begin to associate that location with whatever habit you’re trying to form.
Do What You Like
Going outside your comfort zone and trying new things is an important activity for self-development, but the results are almost never worth it if you’re miserable. When it comes to dieting and exercise, stick to the activities that you find fun or interesting. Sports are a great replacement for dull workouts – if playing tennis seems far more enjoyable than running on a treadmill for half an hour, by all means go with what you enjoy. It’s the physical act of exercising the body that matters – the means in which you do so matter little in comparison.