How to maintain your exercise resolutions
At the beginning of the year, gyms across the country experience what I like to call ‘the rush’. Those who indulged too much during the holidays have made a New Year’s resolution to get back in shape, and new gym memberships skyrocket.
Despite the good intentions behind them, fitness resolutions centered on losing holiday weight typically only last a few weeks. This is because the incentive to change one’s existing behavior in the long term lacks a strong foundation.
Making a permanent change to your fitness routine has so many additional benefits beyond changing the way you look or a number on a scale. Even small amounts of exercise can help lower your blood pressure as well as reduce your risk for developing hypertension-related problems such as heart attack and stroke. Exercise has been shown to help improve one’s mental well-being, especially in middle-aged and older-aged adults. It can help relieve chronic pain, and may even help you avoid cancer.
If you are really looking to change your fitness routine for good, there are a couple of things specific things I recommend. Below are my suggestions for how to maintain your exercise resolutions and beat the odds of ditching your weight loss resolutions.
Don’t Wish For It, Work For It!
Do your homework to find a solid program to follow. Having an exercise program is critical to achieving your fitness goals.
You can find general fitness programs online to try, but January is a great time to take advantage of seasonal deals to hire a personal trainer. A trainer will tailor a program to fit your specific needs, track your progress, and motivate you when need that extra push.
Make Your New Year’s Resolution S.M.A.R.T.
The New Year always brings plenty of fresh energy, so use it wisely. Try not to change too much too quickly. For example, don’t commit to an unrealistic workout schedule, just aim for two-to-three days per week. Instead of swearing off carbs entirely, vow to limit those unhealthy foods to only once per week.
Big victories are great but so are small ones. To stay motivated be mindful of meeting your fitness goal as a series of smaller challenges and celebrate your progress along the way.
Forgive & Forget
Many people start off strong and hit the gym regularly for a couple of weeks, but eventually get discouraged when results don’t come quick enough. You have to become your biggest critic when it comes to reaching your fitness goal. However, even with the right plan and goals, it’s impossible to do everything perfectly. So, as you strive to attain your healthy goals remember to keep this in mind: don’t let one missed workout or an extra cocktail derail you for the rest of the year.
Accept that you’re going to have ups and downs but realize that what’s most important isn’t that you dropped the ball yesterday, it’s that you got back on track today.
Focus on the Bigger Picture
At the end of the day this resolution has to become your life. From maintaining your workout through stressful holiday seasons, to fitting in some exercise when you are on vacation, ensure that your commitment to fitness becomes a permanent change to your daily and weekly life.
These changes will soon become habit that you can build on as you add new goals and even inspire your friends and family to do the same!
Ashley is a Level III Certified Personal Trainer through the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT), a certified lifeguard/water safety instructor, and the personal training coordinator for Ochsner Fitness Center. Ashley earned her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University, where she majored in interdisciplinary studies and minored in health sciences, psychology, and sociology. She grew up participating in competitive cheerleading, volleyball, swimming and high school track.
Ashley is an avid runner and continues to stay active through team sports and yoga. She has experience working with a wide variety of populations through many different fitness domains including weight loss, strength and conditioning, speed and agility, injury prevention, endurance training and youth fitness.