March marks a pivotal moment in your fitness New Year’s resolution. It is the time of year when fitness centers begin to thin out and the regulars breathe a sigh of relief because all the newbies are giving up. This year why not become one of the regulars? Exorcise those thoughts of “I can’t keep this up”, “I don’t have the time”, or “I’m not getting the results I expected, so why waste my time?” This is your first quarter pep talk. Here are some tips to exorcise those negative thoughts and keep your resolution going so you can make jokes about New Year’s newbies instead of being the joke.
Staying motivated is the number one challenge with any behavior change. “I can’t” cannot be part of your thoughts in order to achieve anything. Fitness doesn’t necessarily mean training for a marathon. It’s all about making planned physical activity part of your weekly routine. Your expectations should not be defined solely by fitness center and fitness equipment ads on TV. Yes, the young, high-intensity training, spandex wearing, all the while smiling actor/spokesperson in the commercial can be motivating for some. For others, they simply say, “be like me or forget trying”. Fitness goals are relative to each individuals’ starting points and the first step in reaching them is to NOT STOP.
As reviewed in February’s installment, not having time is not an excuse to give up. There are definitely days (and weeks) that fly by without meeting your planned physical activity goals. That doesn’t give you an out to simply stop altogether. The next day is new and getting back to the plan will eventually turn the burden-laden task of exercise into an enjoyable lifelong habit.
The reason we enter the New Year proclaiming fitness resolutions is to get results. There are many different specific reasons (lose weight, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, etc.) one might make fitness the resolution of choice, but the bottom line is results. A common error is to expect great results too soon. Exercise, unfortunately, is not like washing your car. You can’t just take a few minutes through the car wash (or a few weeks at the gym) and come out changed on the other side. Adding planned physical activity to your lifestyle is the only way to get results, and more importantly, the only way to maintain those results.
A final step in exorcising negative thoughts when adding exercise to your routine is to avoid repeating past failures. As with any positive health behavior change, you may go through ebbs and flows. Unlike stopping smoking, for example, fitness may be a bit easier to overcome the ebbs. If you have a setback, you can put that setback aside and move forward back into your flow. It is the cumulative effect of exercise that creates results. Adding the positive habit of fitness, even gradually, may be less stressful than dropping a negative habit like smoking all at once. Keep this in mind when negative thoughts and frustration begins to come about. With fitness, you may not be training for a marathon, but it is definitely a metaphorical marathon. When you add physical activity to your life, it has to be for life to reap all the benefits and maintain results.