This is the 9th post in December’s Top Tens in 2010 Series. This guest post was written by Michelle, one of the first people I “met” through the blogging word. For several years Michelle had a wildly popular 20sb blog Michelle & the City. She recently turned her love of fitness, healthy food and all things Jillian Michaels into a fitness blog.
It is a well-known fact that exercise can change your life for the better. I doubt I am the first person to tell you that it will increase your energy, boost your self esteem, reduce your risk for heart attack and other life-threatening diseases, increase strength and stamina, decrease stress, and so much more. However, knowing these amazing benefits, over 50% of people that set fitness goals don’t see them through. Why? Because it is hard to stay motivated. I know firsthand.
Up until the beginning of this year, exercise was never a part of my daily life. I tried workout routines in the past that never lasted more than a few weeks at a time. I was full of excuses and lacked motivation. Until I found something that worked for me. Fitness boot camp. Group exercise gave me the encouragement I needed, kept me competitive and most of all kept me coming back for more! Fitness is now an integral part of my life. I don’t believe there is an end to my journey, and I will stay active as long as I am physically able to do so.
I wanted to share with you 10 ways to help you stay on track, so you will have the same success I did and make fitness a lifestyle not a phase.
1. Set Achievable Goals
By making fitness a part of your life, what do you hope to achieve? Run in a 5K? Drop 2 dress sizes? Lose 30 pounds? These are all great long-term goals. What’s even more important is setting small, more manageable goals that will help you achieve your long-term goals faster. This could be as simple as getting your butt to the gym, the amount of time you spend on the elliptical, number of sets/reps, amount of weight you lift, number of laps you can swim, etc.
2. Plan Ahead
Make your workout an appointment on your calendar. Schedule it like you would a business meeting, get together with friends, or haircut. If you don’t make exercising a priority, the excuses will quickly start piling up.
3. Treat Yourself
Rewarding yourself for achieving one of your long-term goals is obvious. However, stay motivated by rewarding yourself on a more frequent basis. Say you had a particularly long day at work and all you wanted to do was watch TV when you got home, but you hit the gym like you planned? Take a relaxing bubble bath as a reward. Have a small piece of your favorite dark chocolate. Whatever will put a smile on your face!
4. Keep Track of Your Progress
And I don’t just mean on the scale. Pounds take time to come off; therefore your weight loss goals will not be instantaneous. It is important to find other ways to track how you’re improving. Give yourself a fitness test before you start working out. See how many pushups you can do, how long you can hold the plank position, how long it takes you to walk/jog/run a mile. Journal your results every few weeks as you continue in your fitness journey. You will even begin to notice the small things: that you are able to carry more grocery bags in one trip, you don’t hit the snooze button as often as you used to, you’re a lot less breathless after multiple trips up/down stairs.
5. Have a Workout Plan for Nights at Home
We’ve all made the excuse before, “I can’t go to the gym or run tonight, it’s raining/snowing/lightning/(insert other terrible weather conditions here).” With winter around the corner, this excuse will likely come up more often than usual. Have a back-up plan. Pick up a fitness DVD (I’m a fan of Jillian Michaels myself), tackle an exercise challenge on BodyRock.tv or My Trainer Bob, have dumbbells/resistance bands on hand for strength training exercises. Don’t let 10 inches of snow keep you from your workout!
6. Get a Workout Buddy
Have a friend, spouse, or co-worker join you at the gym and set a date. It’s harder to come up with excuses not to go when you would be letting someone else down, too.
7. Try Something New
Repetitive routines lead to boredom. You don’t want to reach the point of forcing yourself to exercise. Change it up every once in awhile and try something you’ve never done before. Ever taken a spinning class? Zumba? Yoga? Pilates? Borrow a new workout DVD from a friend or rent one from your local library. Run outside if you normally hit the treadmill. Take the 100 push-up challenge. Track a different route for your run for a change in scenery.
8. Make it Fun
Believe it or not, exercise can be fun! Find something that makes it fun for you. That could be anything from a new workout mix on your iPod to picking up a hula-hoop or skipping down the block to bring out the kid in you again.
9. Get Inspired
Have someone in your life that is your fitness inspiration? A close friend of mine trained for a half marathon this summer. Every time I thought about not going for a run, I remembered that she was likely running 50+ miles that week. Made me realize that the 2 miles I had planned didn’t sound so bad.
10. Tell Your Friends
Tell those closest to you about your new workout routine and goals. Encourage them to keep you motivated. If you start slipping, they’ll be sure to let you know. And they’ll also be the first to tell you how much you’re improving! Tweet about your progress, post your 5K time as your Facebook status. If you are proud of something you’ve accomplished, there’s nothing wrong with spreading the word! You’d be surprised; you could be fitness inspiration in someone else’s life and not even know it.
For those of you who are fitnessites do you have anything else to add? And if you’re not… what do ya think will be your motivator?