Do you know how to keep working out? Do you want to keep working out? For many people, the start of a new year prompts a promise to start exercising. Unfortunately, the promise often doesn’t stick, and the only lasting result is added guilt that we’ve ‘failed again’!
Quite often, though, the only ‘failure’ is that we didn’t set achievable and appropriate goals. There can be quite a big gap between the somewhat abstract process of thinking about what we could or should do, and the day-to-day reality of what we actually WILL do.
If you’re setting goals around getting started with exercise, or even just thinking about it, here are some ways you can improve your chances of success!
Know why you’re doing it-keep working out
Why do you want to exercise? Maybe to get fit. But why be fit? Maybe to feel better and stronger, improve your heart health, lower your blood pressure, improve your mental focus, help you lose weight or a host of other excellent reasons.
What are your reasons? Knowing the real reasons why we want to establish an exercise habit, and exactly how we will be better off, will help us stick to the plan.
Make your goals the things you’ll do
At first glance, a goal like ‘start exercising’ might sound quite specific. But people usually do better when they think it through and write down a more detailed plan. This means working out what actions you need to take to achieve your overall objective.
If you currently don’t exercise, your first goal might be something like ‘do three 30-minute exercise sessions each week for six weeks.’ You could also add the activities that you’ll do, and the days and times that you’ll do them. The effort of getting into the details helps make the new behaviors much more real. You might then come up with some supporting actions – perhaps you need to buy some exercise gear, for example, Bowflex Max Trainer M5, or contact a fitness trainer, join a gym, find out about dance or exercise classes, and so on. Write it all down so you can tick off the actions when complete!
Set goals that YOU can control
We’ve probably all heard of SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. However, we also need goals that we can control.
Example: I will establish an exercise habit between now and June, starting with three 30-minute sessions each week and gradually increasing to 45 minutes on most days of the week.
This sort of goal could be excellent for someone who hasn’t exercised for years (or ever!) as you can be flexible in the activities you choose. You might start off by going for walks by yourself, but then a friend asks you to join an exercise group, or you decide to join a gym or train with a personal trainer to give your exercise some variety, or you can burn extra calories at the office. So long as you do your three to five sessions a week, you’re succeeding!
Example: ‘I will train to burn more calories and fat during my elliptical cardio workout in June.’ This is a bit different to just having the event itself as your goal. If your overall objective is to become a regular exerciser or to achieve health benefits, it’s really the training, not the event itself, that creates benefits for you. So focus your goals on what you need to do to train for the event – that is, the exercise sessions you’ll do each week to build up your endurance and strength to cover the distance. Get expert help if necessary to come up with an achievable training plan.
Acknowledge that there will be a change!
Going from not exercising to becoming a regular exerciser means you’ll be making changes. It’s good to acknowledge this. Making these changes will mean establishing new habits and maybe letting go of habits that are holding you back. Be confident that you CAN make these changes and still have a great life. Think back to times in your life when you have adopted new habits and successfully adapted to change – it could be to do with your work, family life, eating patterns or anything where you’ve altered how you do things.
Making changes to our lifestyle can be very challenging. If you find yourself taking two steps forward and one step back, you’re not alone. However, the more you practice the new behavior, the easier it will get. It’s helpful to set aside a few minutes each week to review how you went with your goals. Make sure you include the positive aspects, not just any area that you didn’t complete. If you are struggling, try and pinpoint why. Review your goals regularly and modify them if need be. Remember that goals are stepping stones to help you get to your ultimate objective, and you are in charge of placing the stepping stones where you need them. Sometimes you might just need a bit more time, or slightly different activities, to get there.
With the 5 ways above, you can keep working out for your fitness goals.