It’s the New Year’s resolution that everyone has and virtually no one keeps: We want to get in shape.
Here are 10 tips to help you keep on track:
1. Make a plan
If you made your decision on New Year’s Eve, that’s only making a decision based on your emotional state that day. Make a plan for big and small goals and particular parts of your body you want to target to help keep you focused. A health professional can help with this.
2. Be realistic
While you might be adamant that you’ll never eat bread, meat or chocolate chip cookies again, making that one of your goals is setting yourself up to fail. Instead, go for what’s attainable: Instead of having your favorite food three days a week, you’ll only have it once. Start small and build.
3. Create a battle plan
Despite all your best efforts, temptation will come knocking. Try to decide in advance how you will deal with wanting to skip that exercise class or have that piece of cake. This could include calling or texting a weight loss buddy, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your “bad” will affect your goal.
4. Talk about it openly
Wanting to live a healthier life is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. Don’t treat your resolution like a dirty little secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve.
With any luck, they’ll help you find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and can help you stay motivated.
5. Document your feelings
Why is getting in better shape a good idea? Write down all the reasons that are motivating you, from wanting to be able to walk up the stairs without losing your breath to wanting to look better on the beach. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.
6. Keep track of your progress
It sounds like this list has more writing down than working out, but it is important to keep track of your progress. Being able to see where you were and how far you’ve come is an important way to keep yourself motivated.
For example, instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost.
7. Rewards are OK
Rewards are a good thing. Don’t think that because you’re losing weight, you have to become an ascetic. Instead of going out to eat to celebrate a milestone, treat yourself to new fitness clothes or by going out to a movie.
8. 21 days
Exercising and working out won’t become good habits overnight. By Tuesday of the second week, all the newness will have worn off, and it’ll start getting harder to get up and get moving, especially if you’re exercising before work.
Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. Get through that first three-week stretch, and you’ll be making real progress.
9. Give yourself a break
It’s not the day missed at the gym or the indulgence in ice cream that’ll knock you off track – it’s the obsessing about it afterward.
Negative thought patterns won’t help maintain your positive plan. Do the best you can each day, and take one day at a time.
10. Don’t give up
Maybe you hit the Valentine’s Day wall – or even the Jan. 15 wall. But that’s not a reason to give up.
Start with one meal, then one day. You can do anything for 24 hours. Once you start building on the 24-hour increments, before long you’ll be back in the groove.