So you finally have a program that suits your goals and lifestyle, how do you make sure you stay on track? The truth is, it doesn't matter how great your program is if you don't stick to it. One of the main reasons people lose their motivation is that they do too much too soon. It's common for people who haven't seen the inside of a gym in years, to decide to start going to the gym 5 times a week. In, my experience, this is a recipe for disaster. Slow and steady is usually the best course of action. The following is a list of ideas and suggestions that have worked for me as well as for my clients.
1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
Before doing anything else, you need to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a Time-frame for completion. Remember that a goal without a deadline is only a dream. You should also expect your goals to change overtime.
2. Make your workouts fun
This will depend on your personality. If you have a Type A personality, for instance, you might enjoy circuit training which allows you to move from one exercise to the next with little or no break in between. Playing a sport you enjoy is a great way to remain fit, healthy and lean. Working out with a trainer is another effective strategy to ensure you stick with your routine by keeping your workouts challenging and varied.
3. Think outside the box
Outside the “gym box” that is. This is easier to do in the summer when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, but don't let the cold winter months confine you to your local gym. Some community centres and YMCA's have indoor adult sports leagues that are open to the public.
4. Partner Up
Having a workout buddy might help you get to the gym on days where the temptation to bond with your couch and a tub of ice cream is great. However, when you do meet your friend, make sure you spend most of your time exercising, not chatting.
5. Schedule it
Before the beginning of each week, give yourself 5 minutes to sit down with your day-timer and write down on which days and at what times you will be exercising.
6. Just do it
Nike had the right idea. Discipline is not about doing what you feel like doing when you feel like doing it. Put on your gym clothes, tie your shoe laces, grab your water bottle and go. Once you're at the gym, there isn't much else to do. It's okay to simply go through the motions every once in a while. At least, you won't feel overcome with guilt and you WILL feel better afterwards.
For some, committing to their exercise routine is an uphill battle. I hate to be one those people who use quotes, but here it goes: “if you fail to plan you plan to fail.” On that note, with a quart of planning, a jug-full of discipline and two cups of fun, sticking with your program won't be as hard as you thought.
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