A study conducted by Harris Interactive for Bodybuilding.com in 2012 showed that more than 70% of people who have set fitness goals as a New Year resolution gave up before meeting that goal. Nearly half of those who gave up did so within six weeks or less. Things are not very different regardless of the part of the year when people decide to become fitter. The main reasons for quitting the fitness journey are difficulty in following the workout regimen, finding time, and getting back on track after a long break.
We are not telling you this to discourage you from starting your road to a healthier life. On the contrary, this information helps us understand why people lose their motivation. Armed with that knowledge, we can prepare ourselves to overcome some typical obstacles to working out. Here’s what we’ve learned about how to start exercising and actually stick to it.
What Is Your Motive?
An important part of the motivation to start exercising is why you want to start exercising. Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Do you want to gain muscle and be more energetic? Do you want to look better? Is your health in such a condition that you need that change?
Understanding your primary purpose will help you stay on track when you start thinking about quitting. Make a list of all of the reasons you have for starting a fitness routine. Keep it somewhere visible and in the back of your mind to remind yourself why you’re on this road in the first place if you get the urge to quit. If you need some help choosing your “why,” just remind yourself of the basic benefits of physical activity, such as:
- slowing down the aging process
- coping with stress
- lengthening the lifespan
- improving the body composition
Sign a Contract
When you make a promise to yourself, privately and quietly, there are no witnesses. It becomes easier to break that oath. After all, no one will know but you. However, if you pledge in front of your partner, friend, or family member, you will be more likely to follow through. Signing a commitment contract takes you one step further. You can even agree to pay your friend $10 every time you skip a workout session.
The contract should include a certain timeframe and a workout plan. For example, you can commit to exercising 30 minutes three times a day for three months. If you don’t do that, you need to pay a penalty. The penalty doesn’t have to be monetary. Sometimes it is enough to be ’embarrassed’ in front of your friend who’ll know you didn’t live up to your word.
Set (Realistic) Goals
Having specific goals will help you stay on track and build an adequate fitness routine. Notice we didn’t write a goal, but several of them. This is a long-term process, and you can’t expect to get rid of 20 pounds or become healthier in a week. Set several short-term goals, such as running one mile in the first month. Then set another one, such as running two or three miles. These small goals will result in minor accomplishments, and the accomplishments will help you stay motivated.
Find a Fitness Program That Works for You
If you are one of those people who claim they hate exercising, we’re asking you: What type of exercise is on your mind? Maybe you detest the idea of pounding a treadmill or sweating in the gym, but have you tried finding a different activity?
Especially if you are a beginner, you can try some low-intensity activities such as walking or hiking. Some people find dancing to be very enjoyable. Also, consider biking, running, yoga, etc. If you decide on a more standard fitness program, consider working with a personal trainer who can design a program according to your needs and fitness level.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is important to maximize your chances of achieving your fitness goals. However, this is not the only role diet plays in your fitness routine.
For example, if you eat a cheeseburger before working out, you’ll feel uncomfortably full, and you will not be able to get the most out of your workout. Some foods and beverages don’t bring any nutritional value to the table and cause dehydration. There are some great pre-workout supplements you can consider instead. Look for the ones that contain beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, branched-chain amino acids, etc. Good post-workout food choices include smoothies, turkey, peanut-butter sandwiches, yogurt, etc.
One of the most frequent reasons why people give up their workout routine is because they don’t have the time for it. Sometimes this is a legitimate reason, and sometimes it’s just an excuse.
Sure enough, it’s difficult to fit in regular physical activity when you have work meetings, your inbox is out of control, your kids need to be fed, etc. But remember those realistic goals that we talked about. You know how much time you usually have, so build your schedule around it. Try to run instead of driving, keep your workout gear handy at all times, put your workouts on your calendar, get up earlier, and schedule running dates with your friends, partner, and family members.
So, about that date… Working out with a person you enjoy spending time with will make it more enjoyable. When you have an exercise partner, you are likely to feel more motivated, as you will encourage each other to work harder. You can even turn it into a small competition if you are both competitive. Having a workout buddy will also help you be more consistent. Your gym partner will count on you to show up, and you will not want to let them down. If you can’t find the right fit among your co-workers, friends, or neighbors, you can try a workout app to connect with people who share similar goals. You can also join a dance class, running club, water aerobics, or similar group activity.
Remember that setbacks are normal, no matter how determined you are. You will miss some workouts. You will eat two slices of pizza instead of a healthy salad. You will feel too tired to be active. This doesn’t mean you should quit. Don’t let these obstacles throw you completely off your course. And don’t beat yourself up. Just get up tomorrow, and get back on the wagon.