It is time again for making resolutions. After downing eggnog and Santa shaped cookies for a month straight, the most common ones for the New Year are usually declared after we look into the mirror and realize, “Yeah, I might need to lose some weight and exercise more.” Now those are some worthy healthy habits!
Millions of people every year decide to face this challenge head on, often by signing up for a membership at their local gyms. Sadly, this is where they typically end their journey. A gym membership is great, but how do you keep from becoming part of that high statistic of people who quit going to the gym after February rolls around?
Success starts with reasonable goals, plans
When signing up for the gym, do you envision yourself going every day after work and hitting the treadmill for two hours? Do you picture yourself at the weight rack seven days a week, hammer curling a couple of 75-pound dumbbells until your biceps rip your shirt to shreds from your massive gains?
The No. 1 reason people quit going to the gym is because they start with unrealisticly high goals. They set themselves up for failure before they even start.
I always advise people to make reasonable goals along with feasible plans to meet them. You want to work out five days a week? Start with a goal of two days a week. When you hit those two days consistently without problem, add a third day.
Baby steps will always get you where you want to go, just be willing to take the time to get there. Remember, no one lies around for a year then jumps off the couch and runs a marathon. You work your way up to a 5K, build up to half marathon and continue to train to finish a full 26.2 miles.
Healthy habits require routines, time to form
The conventional wisdom is that it takes at least 21 days of regularly doing something for it become automatic, or a habit. Your mileage may vary — requiring less or even much more repetition and time.
I know I am a morning person and I have certain days of the week when my mornings are free. So I make my gym/workout sessions the same time in the early part of the day and on the same days of every week. For example, I know that Monday at 8:45 a.m., every week, is my leg workout day/time. It part of my routine just like brushing my teeth is.
Having a schedule you know you can stick to (thanks to having reasonable and manageable goals) makes you more likely to follow through rather than using the “when I have the time” method. If you have a schedule that changes often, try to find or create a “slot” rather than time/day to workout. Change your drive to or from work or dropping the kids off so you go past the gym — it will make it easier for you to stop in and get that workout in. The important thing is to be consistent, and make working out a predictable part of your week.
The dreaded D-word: DIET
When making resolutions, the other area where people tend to go overboard is dieting. They think “I will eat nothing but carrots and gluten-free cardboard,” and after a week — at most — they are gorging on Little Debbie snack cakes.
First, I hate the word diet. You should never do anything that makes you die. I prefer to call it a “live-t” because it needs to be something that you can live with. The real key to healthy “liveting” is tracking what you eat. You might be surprised to find you are eating more than you realized!
There are many great free and paid food-tracking apps you can find for you phones/computers to help. You don’t have to give up the foods you love, you just have to be more aware of the foods you are eating. I personally lost almost 200 pounds doing a program where I still ate the meals I wanted, I just learned to find the right portions and tracked what I ate.
If you think it might be to hard to track your food, I suggest committing to just tracking one day. If that goes well, try for a second day. Pretty soon you will find that you have built a healthy habit!
I hope you were able to find some new ideas to help you on your journey. Remember these three key things:
- Make reasonable goals and plans to meet them.
- Make those goals a consistent part of your life.
- It’s OK to take baby steps toward your dreams.
Put these ideas together and pretty soon you will find that you have gone from making resolutions to having built a healthy habits.