by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
As we approach January’s end, stats suggest one third of us are ready to quit new year resolutions. Remain steadfast and sprint past this mile-marker …
A few weeks into any new year, studies show a decline in the enthusiasm with which we approach resolutions. You probably didn’t need a study to confirm you no longer are excited about a fridge full of low-fat kefir, kale, and beans. Same goes for the basement full of organizational storage bins. No, you were not a victim of identity theft. You likely made those purchases “under the influence” of that New Year/New You buzz.
Pick Up the Pace
Now is not the time to slow down. Ignore any sideliners dropping off beside you. Disregard advertising’s gradual shift from fitness equipment and weight loss to cold remedies and comfort foods common this time of year. Their message is clear: Holidays are over. Hunker down and wait out the winter. The message is nonsense!
Each day is an opportunity. This includes the gray ones, with biting temperatures, icy rain, and gloomy skies. Stay active and be amazed how quickly the dreary weeks of winter pass. Today, intensify your efforts at reaching goals. Increase your workout time. Attempt a new challenge on the Exercise Floor. Advance to a higher level Group Fitness class. In some way, modify your routine. Keep it exciting to spark that new year attitude, even if it is almost February.
Pull from the energy you used to create the goals. Recall your reasons, which still exist today. In the past few weeks, it is doubtful you revamped your diet, organized your closets, or met your goal weight. Even if you have, healthy habits take time to establish. Rekindle the motivation by diving in deeper.
Consider interval training, a top fitness trend for 2014. Rev up your motivation and workout by alternating intensity over short periods. Challenge yourself by increasing the pace, resistance, or both in between breaks of moderate exercise and rest. Taken from military drills, here is an example of an interval training session:
As many possible; one minute of each:
Pullups or pulldowns
Three minutes of biking or jogging in place
Lunges, 1 minute for each leg
Bicep curls, 1 minute for each arm
Three minutes of biking or jogging in place
As many possible; one minute on each side:
Leg extensions (see personal trainer for tips on using leg machines)
Leg curls (see personal trainer for tips on using leg machines)
Two minutes of core work
Adjust the times to your fitness level. Shown here, this workout should take about 25 minutes, including stretch time. Warm up with light cardio work before starting. Don’t get bored. Change your circuits to include other exercises and equipment. Enlist the help of a personal trainer to get creative. Incorporate a medicine ball, kettlebell, or exercise bands.
Aim to keep cardio intensity steady throughout. Alternate circuits to focus on different muscle groups. The example presented here focuses on upper body, then jumps to lower body. This allows muscles time to recover.
Interval training is a popular way to accomplish fitness goals with today’s busy lifestyle. If you’re teetering on your commitment due to lack of time, give this a try. You manage cardiovascular and strength training in a condensed timeframe, which makes it that much more powerful (especially since it makes it more doable).
Make It Non-Negotiable
No one has time to debate whether or not a workout can be skipped. Unless you’re injured or sick, plow ahead without question. Remember your own reasons for wanting to exercise. Think of the exhilaration felt after tackling a workout. That satisfaction cannot be experienced post-donut or after a night of channel surfing.
Whatever resolutions you committed to at the year’s start have not become a habit yet. Studies show it takes about six weeks for an action to develop into a habit. Whether flossing your teeth, hitting the Exercise Floor, or getting to bed earlier, you probably have not started performing these habitually yet. Quite the opposite, you may be in the habit of not doing them. Skipping a workout can easily become part of the norm at this stage. By March, you will have lost momentum and will be lucky if you can find your running shorts. Promise yourself a skip day– in late February.
When tempted to skip a workout, think back to the commitment made a mere few weeks ago. Be motivated by those same reasons– lower stress, cholesterol, or blood pressure levels; firmer muscles; better sleep. Define what you are skipping. It is easier to skip a “workout” than to skip “improved stamina, increased strength, and intense caloric burn.” Use your unique reasons as inspiration. Perhaps you are simply tired of being stiff, tense, and tired. Envision yourself healthier and overcoming these challenges.
Just Do Something
With many things in life, the first step can be the hardest. Once in motion, activities tend to self-propel. If you really are not in the mood for a complete fitness session, decide to do a stretching routine, go for a swim, or accomplish a light jog on the treadmill. You may surprise yourself with what you accomplish.
If you feel more like chatting than sweating, talk with a personal trainer. Learn how to use a new piece of exercise equipment. If you did not complete a typical workout, at least you were proactive in your fitness endeavors. This also sets a precedent for when you feel like skipping future workouts. You have options. Think outside your typical fitness routine.
Acknowledge the Effort
As with all goals, recognize your successes and reward accordingly. Think of treats to complement your healthy lifestyle. One step in the right direction deserves recognition. Two steps might deserve a DVD rental, extra long shower, or a round of your favorite video game. Most resolutions require long-term accumulation to reach goals, especially fitness related. Accumulate workouts to see results, whether weight loss or stress loss.
Plan more significant rewards to implement a month from now: a massage, trip to the spa, a relaxing dinner with friends. Make pampering the theme for your hard work on the Exercise Floor. If you resolved to become more organized, create a reward that complements those efforts. Perhaps a new piece of home decor or decorative files. A long-term plan could be to redecorate a room or finish the basement. (Okay, reaching a little far there. Focus on boxing up and shelving stuff. There is always 2015.)
Please keep it appropriate. A Big Mac is not a reward for a Group Fitness class. (Is there ever a time when a Big Mac can be considered a reward?) Do not undo efforts.
If you consistently struggle to keep your new year resolutions, or any goals, reexamine your motives. Be sure you want it for the right reasons. Be sure it is personal, and not the wishes of your family or the product of envy, insecurity, or unrealistic hopes.
Fitness should be fun, especially as you become comfortable with the experience. If you are not enjoying yourself, try another routine. Check out the Center’s extensive list of Group Fitness classes. Enlist the advice of a personal trainer. Self-discovery is a process. Create an exercise program built on your strengths and preferences.
Not every day will be a struggle to manage your workout. When you feel resistant, remember that. You are in charge. You made resolutions with your best interest in mind. Be faithful to yourself.
“10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Skip Your Workout,” by Paige Waehner at www.about.com.
Snow run (introductory photo): www.flickr.com/photos/billdamon/12016479684/
Abandoned sneakers: www.flickr.com/photos/ryanready/6624777621/