By now you’ve probably determined that you fell off the “New Year’s Resolution” bandwagon about 3 months ago, right? Statistics show that only 8% of resolution-makers are successful in following through on their desired life changes, so you are not alone… but you are not defeated yet. There are still 7 months (over half a year!) left to get back on the bandwagon and succeed. Changes happen when you are ready for them – when you’re serious about them – so refresh those resolutions you made in a drunken stupor at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 and be serious about them this time!
According to Statistic Brain, these are the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014:
- Lose Weight
- Get Organized
- Spend Less, Save More
- Enjoy Life to the Fullest
- Staying Fit and Healthy
- Learn Something Exciting
- Quit Smoking
- Help Others in Their Dreams
- Fall in Love
- Spend More Time with Family
I cannot help with your love life and my credit cards will tell you I’m bad at money management, but I can offer some tips on finding a workout routine that sticks. Obviously finding the balance of what works for you is key to making a lifestyle change, but these are strategies I implement when I’m in a motivational lull:
Do a variety of exercises. Not only is this good practice in general to make sure you’re challenging all of your muscle groups and getting the most of your workout time, but it’s also great if you are easily bored by exercise. If you prefer the gym setting, do some group exercise classes; some strength training on the weight machines; and rotate between the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or any cardio equipment that’s a weird combination of the above. If you prefer to work out in the comfort of your own home so you don’t have to watch Food Network on mute, buy a few different workout DVDs (many are SUPER cheap on Amazon) and see what you like. There’s a workout DVD for pretty much anything nowadays, so find your niche. You can also go through the free programming provided by your cable company to see what free workouts are available, or download apps to your phone/iPad that provide different exercises. The point is to see what’s out there so you can figure out what you like and, most importantly, what you’ll look forward to doing every day.
Look the part. While I don’t always love the price, I love buying new workout clothes. Nothing gives me the confidence to go running more than when I look the part. Find a workout wardrobe that gives you confidence and that you feel comfortable wearing. Avoid the expensive clothes at first, especially if you are planning to lose weight and shrink sizes. Target, TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, and other discounted stores have just as much to choose from as the specialty stores and at a fraction of the price. Do a few moves in the dressing room to make sure things aren’t “shifting” or riding into areas you don’t want them to before you buy anything. (I’ve had to retire a few pairs of shorts over the years for this very reason, so don’t feel ashamed!). Just be conscious of how you feel when you’re working out because you’re not going to do it if you don’t feel comfortable and confident doing it.
Timing is everything. I am typically a morning person. I’m ready for the day, motivated, the birds are chirping… yadda yadda yadda… so I work out in the morning. I’ve tried working out at night and occasionally do it if I want to exercise and didn’t have time that morning, but overall I prefer a morning session. I know many people who would call me crazy for being so lively first thing in the morning – that their eyes aren’t even open until they’re halfway to class or work, so working out is the LAST thing on their mind when they get up – and I understand. Try working out at different times of the day – morning, noon, night – and see when you feel your best. Finding time to work out does require some time management, especially with work or school schedules, so you’ll need to be flexible as you’re figuring out what routine works for you.
Think small. Have you ever watched “The Biggest Loser?” I’m not saying that any of us are in that extreme of a weight-loss emergency where we have hundreds of pounds to shed, but my point is that those contestants have an overall goal in mind – to lose 100 pounds or whatever it may be – but that doesn’t happen overnight. That is where the impatient voice inside each of us tells us, “It’s not working, stop trying, just give up.” We all want to see the BIG result immediately and so we get discouraged when the scale only shows a 1- or 2-pound loss (or maybe a gain?) for a particular week. My motivation is to think small. Set smaller, more quickly attainable goals that will give you that feeling of success. Setting a goal of dropping 2 pounds weekly for a few weeks will quickly add up to a 10-pound weight loss on the scale. Better yet, don’t make your goals weight-related (if that’s your BIG goal), but rather something like 1) working out 5 days this week; 2) getting through an entire workout DVD that may be especially challenging; 3) drinking more water and less soda one day. The point is to meet little milestones that add up to big change!
Plan ahead. Sometimes I skip workouts because I wake up to my alarm at 5:30am and say “I don’t even know what workout I was going to do this morning” so I hit Snooze and back to sleep I go. Give me too many mornings like that and I come up with a solution – an exercise calendar. Print out a calendar, scribble on an old napkin, use whatever you have to write down your exercise plan for the week. This eliminates my early-morning excuse and will get you organized and hold you accountable for your daily workouts. As I mentioned before, choose a variety of exercises or alternate between a couple activities. Be sure to include 1-2 days of rest as well as breaks for your muscles after heavy weight-training workouts. You can always change your workout schedule if you feel like running one day instead of doing yoga, but at least you have a plan already in place. And if you’re a morning exerciser like myself, lay out your clothes the night before or – dare I say – sleep in them?! I sleep in my workout clothes most of the time; just add shoes and a ponytail and I’m ready to go. It may sound gross, but seriously, you’re just planning to get sweaty and smelly anyways!
Phone a friend. I consider myself lucky that I’m self-motivated to work out and prefer to exercise solo, but I know many of us rely on others to keep us on track with our fitness goals. If you’re one of those people who needs a text reminder (or a swift kick in the butt) to get to Zumba class, find a friend to become your workout buddy. You can talk, motivate each other, and have someone to laugh with when you totally turn the wrong way during the routine. The gym can be much less intimidating when you have someone there with you, so don’t be afraid to ask for company. Who knows, you may be the swift kick that THEY need too!
With a little forethought, a little research, and a lot of sweat, you can get your New Year’s Resolutions back on track in no time. Happy sweating!