Nine Tips for Fitness Success
For every ten people who begin a fitness program, as many as seven will drop out in less than six months. Here are ways to help you from contributing to the drop-out statistics.
1 Start slowly
Make just one small change at a time. That’s the best way to
guarantee that the changes you make will become
permanent. Remember, you are making changes that should
last the rest of your life. Don’t rush them.
2 Avoid boredom
It’s among the top reasons people drop out of exercise regimens; after all, who wants to be bored? Take it upon yourself to keep things fresh. Vary your walking route or work in new activities to keep your routine fun and different. Do your usual walk in reverse, go cycling next week instead of walking, stop and investigate outdoor places and activities that have always piqued your interest.
3 Surround yourself with support
Some people can stay more committed if they have a regular fitness partner. In one US study that tracked 309 people for two years, those who had a support group lost 30 per cent more weight than those who dieted alone. If you can find someone who shares your enthusiasm and exercises at the same pace and for the same length of time as you do, you’ll be more likely to stick with your plan – and have fun along the way.
4 Dress for success
Comfortable pants or shorts and a top made from breathable material such as cotton will do just fine for most basic exercise programs. Make sure you have clothes you love to be in. Clothing should motivate you, not embarrass or irritate you.
5 Fuel up
Nothing takes the pleasure out of an activity more than running out of energy. Too little water or too little food beforehand can make that happen, so make sure you’re hydrated and not hungry before you start out. If you think you’ll be exerting yourself, have a large glass of water and a healthy snack 30 minutes before starting. If you’re active for more than 30 minutes, make sure you drink more water every 15 to 20 minutes.
6 Adopt a new attitude
Be a little selfish about your exercise time. Schedule it, commit to it and protect it by gently reminding intruders – including your spouse and children – that sorry, you’re busy doing something important and that exercise is a priority you’ll be sticking with. Do the same at work. Don’t let peer pressure force you to eat lunch with the usual gang when you’ve planned to be outside walking.
7 Celebrate fitness success
Consider keeping an exercise journal to note your personal observations, and think about monitoring your energy levels, body measurements, sleep patterns or sports performance – anything that would improve as a direct result of your new exercise patterns. When you show improvement, as you inevitably will, don’t forget to reward yourself!
8 Stay motivated
Goals, treats, inspiration, fun and lots of positive self-coaching can help you stick with your new fitness plan. There are many ways to do this. Get a portable music player and load it with upbeat music so you can have fun listening whenever you’re on the go; create an inspiration wall from a family notice board or cork board to display logs of your improving health statistics, photos of you as you slim down and other motivating photos or quotes; and constantly keep up the positive self-talk (“I can do it!”) and ban negative self-talk (“I can’t do it”).
9 Work with – not against – your body
You need to respect your unique physical limitations. For example, if a physical condition makes it difficult for you to walk, there are many other wonderful ways to keep moving for 20 minutes, whether swimming or using a rowing machine or merely doing calisthenics in a chair. Just as important, play to your physical strengths. If you have strong legs, resume a hiking or cycling regimen. If you have strong arms, there are plenty of sports, such as tennis and softball, that are great for you. It’s not the specific activity that matters; just that you are active. Improvise as required for your unique needs.