We don’t need to tell you how important a regular exercise regimen is to your overall health. Mainstream media and reality TV have already done the heavy lifting for us. (By the way, is it just me or does anyone else feel like a slacker while watching The Biggest Loser?) Millions of Americans promise to start exercising regularly at the start of each new year. The problem is, an alarming percentage of them don’t stick with it. (Raise your hand if you’re guilty!)
Studies show that by now half of you have kicked your grand plans to the curb. What seemed like a resolute idea just months ago has gone the way of holiday decorations – tucked away until later in the year. It’s not too late! With swimsuit season peering around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to re-resolve yourself to a new and improved you. Let’s call it a spring resolution renewal.
We checked in with successful “resolutioners” – those who have turned yearly resolutions into lifestyle changes – to learn their secrets. We were intrigued by five-year Navy spouse Joyce Willemot’s simple strategy – try new things. Think about it; a new exercise, new food (Kale, anyone? Joyce swears it’s delicious.), or a new approach to old goals really kicks up the stick-to-it-ness factor.
Joyce may be onto something. As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to achieve a successful health or exercise goal is to try it in a new way. For example, rather than just commit to exercising, try a new exercise. Yoga, anyone? What about weight training? How about a couch to 5K program? (Who can resist the trend in colorful running shoes?) Trying new things challenges not only your body, but your brain, too.
Feeling inspired? Check out these additional tips for a new you this summer season:
First, Baby Steps
It’s OK to make grand goals. Just be sure you sprinkle in some small steps to achieve and encourage you along the way to the larger one. Want to lose 25 pounds? Then make smaller steps to help you achieve that goal; for example, bring your lunch to work instead of eating out. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You get our point.
Grab a friend – you’re less likely to ditch a morning walk if your friend is waiting outside your door. Need a boost of motivation? Check in with your social networks. Like it or not, plenty of friends are posting their runs/workouts/healthy recipes. Rather than roll your eyes at their incessant shout outs, use it as motivation.
Hit the Web
If accountability is what you seek, check out www.43things.com, where you can set up to three goals and join a community of over three million people who cheer you on. No pressure. Oodles of encouragement.
Need to up the ante even more? Put your money where your mouth is. The brains at Yale University designed stickk.com, a stroke of goal setting genius that utilizes a “Commitment Contract” to encourage users to stay with their goals. Here, you can put your dollars on the line – if you don’t reach your goal, you lose your cash. (Designate your proceeds to benefit a charity, friend, or even a friendly foe.)
And, yes, there’s an app for that, too. GymPact was created by a Harvard-student duo interested in the psychology of economics and the realization that people are more motivated by NOT losing money than they are in earning money. What?! Regardless of your monetary motivations, this app incentivizes your workouts and rewards you for getting to the gym.
Switch Bad Habits for Healthy Ones
Swap soda for iced tea or water, potato chips for apple slices. You will likely fail miserably if you try to completely forgo the Cheetos, soda, and chocolate (or is just me?). Instead, do your best to make a healthy substitute most of the time. And some of the time (say, once or twice a week), give yourself a break. Some of us like to use “junk” food as a reward for being good. Whatever works, right? Just don’t overdo the reward; remember the wise Oscar Wilde adage – everything in moderation, including moderation.
Keeping a journal of your workouts helps identify patterns. If every Saturday, you skip your workout because you’re too tired, maybe an adjustment in Friday night’s festivities is in order. Log things like hours of sleep, type of workout, how you felt, food consumed, duration of workout. The more details you log, the better chance you’ll have of identifying road blocks and determining where injuries may have occurred. It also serves as a reminder of how great you’re doing and offers self-motivation.
What are your secrets for achieving successful goals? Do share!