How to Focus on Fitness
January brings an exciting time of setting goals and starting new routines, but is anyone really thinking about their New Year's resolution health kick by the time May roles around? Well, we’re back to the beginning of the year and although the January Warriors at the gym may have started strong, a couple months later and early mornings at the gym are already less crowded. Here are some tips to stay in line with your health and fitness goals all year.
It’s easy to set big, long term goals. I want to lose X amount of weight. I want to do X every day. I want to be healthier. I want to be fit. While it is certainly important to have long-term goals, remember that a lot of small events must occur to achieve large goals. Additionally, achieving small goals provides a sense of accomplishment once completed and acts as a tangible way to quantify progress. So let’s start small. Say your end goal is to be more mindful this year. Start with a small goal of meditating for 10 minutes three days this week. Then the next week bump it up to four days. Then five, so on, until it becomes a part of your every day routine.
You may be familiar with the idea that it takes 21 days to form a good habit, and while that may be true for simple tasks such as drinking a glass of water after breakfast every day, more difficult goals such as exercising every day take much longer—up to 225 days—until they become habitual. Have patience; it certainly is not going to be rainbows and sunshine trying to form a new habit, but beginning with weekly or daily goals provides an attainable starting point. As ridiculous as it may sound, a good goal to start with is to set aside time to establish your daily/weekly goals. Write down your goals and hold yourself accountable. Make it your goal to keep making goals, then go out and start tackling them!
Find an Accountability Partner
(Or Someone to go to Workout With)
This piece of advice may not help everyone, but if you struggle with motivation or feel like you don’t fit in at the gym, having someone to workout with can be crucial. The gym can be a scary place—all those football guys with biceps the size of your thigh making grunting noises. Or that girl who could squat your bodyweight, yeah, no thank you. I’m here to tell you do not be scared! The gym is a place where the majority of people could care less about what you are doing and are focused on their own workout. Still, it can take time to build up confidence in using equipment or navigating around said sweaty, jacked men.
Exercising with friends can grow your comfort in the gym and place accountability on getting out the door. Can’t find a friend, then make some at the gym by signing up for a class. Group classes also offer an opportunity to exercise in an environment that will push you and keep you accountable. Join a beginner class and try something new like yoga or kickboxing. Don’t have access to a gym? Workout buddies are even better for gym-free exercise. Go on a run or do a bodyweight workout and have a partner to work together with in order to finish the workout.
Staying Motivated While Alone
This is the hard one. Everyone has different intrinsic motivations and pinpointing how to channel this motivation to form lasting habits can take time. In terms of fitness, I highly recommend the Nike Training Club (NTC) app, a free application full of workouts. The application offers a variety of workouts and includes video demonstrations for every exercise in each workout. You can sort through workouts of varying lengths, difficulties, and equipment usage. A majority of workouts require no equipment and provide great ideas for exercises to do at home. After downloading a workout, it’s as easy as pressing “play” and the application will time the workout, give motivational prompts, and keep you moving. The application also has yoga workouts of varying difficulties, meaning some of their yoga routines may be a nice relaxing way to start or end the day while others will put your body to work. If you enjoy running or want to give it a try, Nike also has the Nike Run Club application which includes commentated runs from Olympians such as Shalane Flanagan. Start the app and let the professionals walk you through running techniques for your body and mind.
Aside from applications, go back to small goal setting. Say you want to work on core strength; make a goal to do eight minutes of core work three days this week. Then up it until you do the routine every day. Then make it a goal to do 10 minutes of core work three out of seven days, until you’ve upped the time to 10 minutes every day. Of course this is only one possible example, but setting small goals allows you to actually achieve them until what was hard becomes easy and habitual. From there you can look back at your progress and see the actuation of a larger goal.