You’ve made your new year’s resolution and have set realistic health goals for 2013. You have diligently prepared for success by choosing enjoyable activities that fit your busy schedule. You’re monitoring your activities and food intake to help keep you on track and you’re feeling good about where you are.
The first few weeks of a new exercise regimen can be exhilarating, despite the challenges that accompany it. Indeed, many people experience a new-found energy when they begin to work out.
However, once the initial endorphin highs wear off, you may feel discouraged because you are not experiencing immediate results, such as weight loss or muscle definition. “People have to be realistic and expect that change will take time,” says Christina Weiss, certified exercise physiologist at the PERFORM Centre. “When looking at long-term health and lifestyle changes, there are no quick fixes,” she says. “It can take several months to experience changes such as healthy weight, improved mood or increased alertness.”
The next big challenge in maintaining a fitness resolution will be to remain motivated over the long run and to be prepared for potential setbacks.
Build a support network
Support networks are key to staying inspired, says Weiss. “Confide in a friend, family or co-worker that you trust. Tell them why you made the decision to get healthy and share your ups and downs. People want to help, especially if you’re actively doing something to improve your life.”
Building a support network should also be seen as a way of gaining knowledge. Figure out where you are lacking information and get feedback and encouragement. This could mean seeking advice from a qualified fitness professional, dietitian or life coach.
You deserve credit for sticking to your exercise routine and new healthy lifestyle. Giving yourself rewards for your determination is a simple but important way of staying motivated. Rewards can also represent milestones on the path to better health.
Rewards can vary from new shoes or workout gear to more personal rewards. “You don’t have to break the bank to reward yourself,” Weiss says. “Plan a time out for yourself, such as a luxurious bubble bath, or take that Zen yoga class you’ve always wanted to try. Use these incentives as ways to remind yourself why you chose to get fit and how your decision is having a positive impact on your life. Also don’t forget to reward yourself daily with positive self-talk.”
The long-term success of your resolution will depend on how well you are organized. Being prepared and tracking your progress at this point is as important as it is in the beginning. “Simple actions, such as packing your workout clothes and putting your bag by the door, are effective ways of ensuring that you have no excuses,” says Weiss. “You may also want to pack a healthy snack and some water for before and after your workout.”
Planning for alternative ways in which you can exercise should your schedule unexpectedly change is also important. If work or other activities interfere with a planned workout, having a back-up plan such as taking an evening walk will not only ensure that you get your exercise but will reduce the negative feelings created by missing a workout.
“Organization is key,” says Weiss. “The more prepared you are, the more active you will be. And people who are active tend to be able to adjust to changing schedules and the eventual bumps in the road that you will face on your way to a healthier life.”
• PERFORM Centre Community Health Programs
• “Personal training at Le Centre” — NOW, February 29, 2012