The start of the new year is a great time to recommit to making fitness a top priority. With the busyness of life, especially around the holidays, with frequent travel, family obligations, holiday parties, and last-minute shopping, it’s easy to let your normal healthy routine slide. Maybe you skip a few workouts and eat too much pie. If you’re used to exercising regularly and eating healthy, you probably noticed a drop in your mood and energy during the holidays if you didn’t keep up with those things. Now that the new year has arrived, it’s time to make fitness a priority again. Here are some ways to stick to your plan and achieve your fitness goals.
Know why you’re doing it.
It’s hard to drag yourself to the gym just because you feel like you should. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting other people’s reasons for working out and eating healthy. Identify your own reasons and keep them fresh in your mind, either by writing them down and keeping the list where you can see it or by reminding yourself before every workout. Whatever reason speaks to you and keeps you motivated is fine, whether you want to improve your mood and keep your mind sharp or you just want to look good. To paraphrase Nietzsche, if you have a ‘why’ you can stand any ‘how.’
Make it a habit.
Make your workouts easy to start by making them habitual. You don’t want to have to expend mental energy deciding whether to work out that day, when, what to do, and so on. Make it automatic. If you work out first thing in the morning, have your clothes ready for when you get up. Go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, get dressed, and do your workout. If you exercise in the evening, maybe your routine is to come home from work, throw on your gym clothes and get to it. Having a regular sequence makes it automatic and saves you from having to spend precious willpower.
Set SMART goals.
Having clear goals simplifies your workouts. In exercise, as with anything else, there’s no free lunch. Your body will adapt to whatever you train it for, but you can’t optimize everything at once. You’re not likely to add 100 pounds to your squat and take five minutes off your half marathon in the same year. Having goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound will make it easy to decide your training priorities and motivate you to keep showing up.
Work out with friends.
Finally, if you really want to hold yourself accountable, work out with friends. Having someone who will show up and drag you to the gym, even when you don’t feel like, may be the best way to stay consistent. What’s more, studies have shown that exercising in a group is the best way to get the most cognitive benefit from exercising, whether you participate in team sports, run with a group, or lift with a partner.
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