New Year, New You
Looking good in your clothes is great motivation for starting a new exercise plan. But that’s not all you get from regular exercise. The right fitness plan can make you stronger, give you more energy, keep your bones healthy, strengthen your heart, lift your mood, build stamina and ward off chronic diseases like diabetes.
Even with these incredible benefits, it’s all too easy to put off exercising. To help become a fit new you in the new year, follow these strategies:
Set realistic goals. “Be honest with yourself and determine how much time you are willing to devote to your fitness goals,” says Kelly Wilson, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and running coach in northern Vermont. Be sure to leave yourself some flexibility for unforeseen obstacles, such as a sick child or last-minute appointment.
Take baby steps. If you try to achieve too much too soon you may end up quitting. A slow and steady beginning to your new fitness lifestyle will help you stay motivated to achieve your goals instead of burning out, says Michael Walsh, a certified trainer and manager of BodyScapes Fitness in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Fit fitness into your schedule. Some exercise is always better than no exercise, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes here and there. On days when time is short, do a brief cardiovascular exercise, or do a quick warm-up and strength training, says Wilson. On other days, split the time between cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
Keep a log or journal. Logging your daily fitness activities will help you track your progress and stay motivated. “You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment when you see how in January you could only run for 1 minute, and in March you can run for 30 minutes — or after starting with six push-ups on your knees, you can now do 12 push-ups on your toes,” says Wilson. “Plan to reward yourself with a massage or new clothes.”
Be patient. Visible benefits don’t usually occur as soon as we’d like, nor do they reflect the early enthusiasm we have for a new fitness routine, says Mary Gillis, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and founder of Anything But The Gym. Don’t get upset if you don’t see any results in the first few weeks, she warns. The calories you burn will add up.
Reappraise how you feel about exercise. “We all know exercise is good for us, but a lot of people look at it as work,” says Wilson. The way to change your attitude is to make sure you are doing something you enjoy, she says.
Keep it social. Meeting friends for a workout or working with a trainer at the gym will help you enjoy exercising. “If you consider exercise as a social activity, you’ll be more likely to stick with a routine,” says Walsh.
Balance your exercise with a healthy eating plan. If you exercise but don’t watch what you eat, you won’t see the maximum results, says Walsh. To lose weight and get fit, your healthy eating plan and your exercise plan must work together.
Now that you have a new fitness plan, check out “New Year, New You: Part 1″ for tips on making a healthy eating plan.