By early February, the gyms are starting to empty out, and the number of people pounding the pavement before work slowly dwindles down to a few dedicated individuals. The excitement of new year resolutions loses its appeal after the reality of hard work sinks in. For the first two weeks or so, people are literally giddy with the idea of working out and getting in shape.
Then the cold weather keeps them indoors instead of running. The gym is easy to push off into another day, but it never seems to make it into the ‘Done’ category. What can you do to stay motivated after the New Year’s resolutions excitement has worn off?
So simple, but often overlooked: Get an accountability partner. Preferably not a family member – that way if they have to yell at you, you won’t have to look at them at dinner. Make an arrangement with your partner for a regular “check-in” phone call complete with heckling for a lack of exercise. Decide on how often you’ll contact each other, and the rules of engagement for a non-performer.
What is the motivation for your exercise routine? Is it an upcoming family reunion? To fit into your favorite jeans?To improve your cholesterol or blood pressure? Whatever the cause you’re working towards, make a chart or poster of your desired outcome. Post it in a conspicuous location (the fridge is a great place to put it) where you will see it daily as a reminder of your plan.
So, you want to lose 40 pounds? That’s great – but you probably won’t lose them all in three weeks. Set realistic goals, with attainable measure marks and keep track of your progress. Celebrate little accomplishments along the way: every ten pounds earns you a trip to the movies, etc.
With attainable goals, you’re more likely to stick with a plan and be successful than a broad “Lose Weight” goal.
Boredom is one of the leading causes of people overeating. It is also a common reason for people abandoning their exercise plans. Integrate variety into your workout plan to prevent your brain from turning into oatmeal. Take a brisk walk around the campus of your job, or use your lunch break to get in a set of stairs. Use a variety of exercises to not only give yourself a total workout but to prevent boredom.
No matter how slowly the workout plan goes, remember that it took time to get in the condition you are in, and it will take time for you to get rid of the weight. Don’t be tempted by “lose weight fast” schemes that want to take your money – losing weight and getting in shape is not easy, and does not happen overnight.
Deciding to take control of your life is a big step for many people. It takes courage to recognize that something needs to change, and takes even further courage to take the steps towards that change.