The New Year is a great time to set goals and many people start the year by making New Year Resolutions. One of the most common areas that people make resolutions in is health and fitness. However, the pressure of “New Year’s Resolutions” and memories of one’s past failures in sticking to those resolutions can sometimes cause people to not even bother with making any resolutions or setting fitness goals at all. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Any day is good to start taking positive steps towards improving your health and these twelve tips will help you achieve your fitness goals!
- Assessment of Where You Are Now – Some people like to take a photo of themselves before starting a new fitness routine so that they can keep a record of where they started. Whether you choose to do so or not, it is important to take a look at where you are now in terms of health before starting any weight loss or exercise program. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to assess if there are any health concerns you should be aware of, precautions you should take and if they have any recommendations for improving your fitness through diet and exercise based on your age or health status. Whatever your current health status, love and accept yourself as you are. Set the intention that you want to achieve your health goals because you love and care for yourself and commit to doing all that you can to care for yourself and nurture your health.
- Start Where You Are, With What You Have – While having dedicated workout clothes and exercise equipment is ideal and can help you work out more comfortably and efficiently, if your don’t have specialized clothes or equipment, don’t let that stop you from getting started. Use what you have, where you are. When exercising you just need comfortable clothing that is loose or stretchy enough to allow you to move with good range of motion and sneakers or other flat, cushioned, comfortable closed shoes. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to start getting fit. Your exercise routine can start with simple stretches, walking or running outside. You can exercise in your bedroom or living room. Household items can be adopted for use in your workout routine. Just make sure that you have a clear space where you will not hit any furniture or lighting fixtures while working out. Don’t let excuses about what you don’t have get in the way of starting your exercise routine.
- Define Your WHY! Fitness goals aren’t just about losing weight or building muscle. While those might be your goals, try and think about the bigger picture while setting your fitness goals. This will help you define why you are doing what you are doing and help you to stay motivated. For example, what is the ultimate reason that you want to lose weight? It might be that you want to have more energy, mobility and endurance to be able to enjoy a more active life, or to tone your muscles to feel stronger, leaner and more confident about yourself in a certain outfit or for a specific event. Whatever your “why” is, define it and choose something like a photo or cutout from a magazine to serve as a visual reminder of it.
- Set Your Goals – Goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. If you want to lose weight, set a goal to achieve within a specific timeframe but as mentioned earlier, getting fit is not all about weight loss. When you do strength straining and toning, you may not lose weight because you are building muscle mass. You may instead want to set goals that are based on the fitness activities. For example, you may want to run a 5K and complete it within a specific time. Make sure that your goals are achievable and realistic.
- Find Healthier Swap Outs – Whether its food or activities, finding healthier swap outs that you like and will gladly incorporate into your lifestyle will help you to achieve long lasting success with your fitness goals. If you are currently drinking a soda or alcohol with your lunch or dinner, swap that out for water or unsweetened tea. If you are currently relaxing by going out to the movies and snacking on soda and candy, try swapping that out for a more active activity, such as an exercise class, dancing or walking with a friend. Check your pantry and see what items you can swap out for healthier options.
- Break Your Goals Down to Smaller Steps– Starting with a huge goal can be overwhelming. If you say to yourself, “I want to lose 50lbs this year,” break it down into smaller time frames. Set up a quarterly goal of losing 15lbs by April 1st then losing another 15lbs by July 1st Break that down further to a monthly goal of losing 5lbs a month. That is a lot more manageable and sustainable than expecting yourself to suddenly lose 50lbs.
- Set Up Your Environment for Success – This is important. If you want to start eating healthier, start by removing those items from your pantry that could sabotage your success. Start researching healthy recipes that appeal to you and start filling your fridge and pantry with those healthier ingredients. If your goal includes working out more, start by picking out what work-out clothes you will be wearing. Make sure that you have a gym bag set to go if you will be going to the gym. If you will be exercising at home, decide where you will exercise and make sure that you have a clear, safe area to exercise. Have your work out mat or towel and any workout equipment set and out and ready to use. It will be a lot easier to start with your healthy habits if your environment is prepared and you have what you need to get started.
- Schedule Your Health Activities and Your Goals – For many of us the days can get go too fast with so many other things on our schedule. Make a date with yourself for your fitness activities. Whether that is calendaring your workout time at home, your trips to the gym or your morning run, put these into your schedule with the days and times that you will be doing the activity and how long for. Set these up as recurring appointments. If you are unable to keep one of your appointments, reschedule for another day in the week. You will be making a commitment to yourself to keep these appointments and you will be developing a positive habit and routine.
- Set Up a Method to Track Your Goals – Whether you use a calendar or an app it is essential to track your progress as you work towards your goals. A simple spreadsheet or daily note in your calendar can be used to help you track your new habits. Take regular note of your daily actions, such as workouts, meal changes etc. That way you can see and track your progress. If you find that you didn’t meet your goal for the first month that means that you may have to work harder the next month to meet your monthly and quarterly target.
- Reward and Nurture Your Success – Any fitness program, whether that is changes to your diet or activities, is going to require consistency for you to see lasting success. Setting a reward for yourself can help motivate you to complete your activities on a regular basis. However, instead of rewarding yourself with “cheat days” or things that you have been trying to stay away from, reward yourself with things that support your goal – ie, a new workout outfit, or a new outfit to replace something that doesn’t fit you anymore, a new piece of exercise equipment or a day out doing a special activity.
- Review Your Goals on a Daily Basis – Either before or after your morning visualization look over your goals. Have them written out on a board where you can see them, or on an index card that you keep in your wallet but read them to yourself on a daily basis. Another powerful activity you can do is to rewrite your goals and affirm them in writing and to yourself in the present tense. Write other affirmations in the present tense that are associated with that goal. For example, create affirmations such as “I am achieving my goal of losing Xlbs by X date. I am taking consistent positive daily action to help me reach my goal.”
- Share Your Goals with Someone – Most of the time, just the first step of articulating your goal to another person can solidify and bolster your commitment to that goal. It is more difficult for you to back down from your commitment once you have declared it to someone else. An additional benefit is that the person or people that you announce the goal to will recognize your commitment and will be more inclined to help you achieve your goal. They might even decide to commit to a health goal with you! Sharing your goals with someone you trust can be a powerful motivator. Make sure it is someone who will hold you accountable to those goals and will not let you make excuses!
I hope that you find these tips to be helpful. I wish you every success in reaching your fitness goals!