Looking for motivation to get up and jog on those early mornings? Just joined a gym and already tired of your trainer? Skipping spin class in favour of a box set on the couch? Don’t despair: Here are five bulletproof ways to stay committed to your fitness routine.
1. Create A Community
Studies show that those who exercise together, stay together. In one weight-loss study, 95% of those who participated with friends completed the programme, compared with 76% who participated independently. The group of friends also maintained their target weight nearly 50% more often than the individuals.
“Being part of something always helps to keep the commitment up, as you don’t want to let your partner or the team down,” says Fitbug fitness expert Sylvester Savyell.
If you thrive in a solitary exercise environment, don’t despair. You can still interact with a community digitally, whether through social media or battling colleagues and friends using various fitness apps. Commitment, camaraderie, and friendly competition. What’s not to like?
2. Set Achievable Goals
Most exercise resolutions quickly fizzle because they are too ambitious. Want to lose 50 pounds, or run a 4:30 mile, or bench press twice your bodyweight? Those goals sound great, but for most of us they’re not immediately achievable.
Instead, think in terms of baby steps rather than a giant leap. Make a weekly list of goals, with active verbs to get you in the right mindset.
Shave two pounds. Drop thirty seconds off my mile time. Rack 20 more pounds to the bench press.
Achieving each small goal gives you the burst of dopamine you need to tackle the next one. Next thing you know, you’re on a roll!
3. Track Your Progress
Just like with anything in life, it’s easy to get discouraged — or simply forget – when your progress is left in your brain. So when in doubt, write it out. Studies show that manifesting your goals on paper can help with everything from closing the educational achievement gap to helping working adults achieve financial stability.
In terms of your exercise regimen, Savyell says: “Tracking everything on paper prevents cutting corners and cheating. You quickly realise that it’s on you to accomplish these goals, and nobody else.”
And as always, if you’re not a fan of pen and paper, digital fitness apps and trackers are another great means of keeping up with your progress and pushing through the discouraging moments.
4. Rewards for Results
If you’re planning on waiting until you reach your ultimate fitness goal to celebrate, chances are you’ll never see the day. Rather, by establishing smaller — but still significant! — milestones along the way, you’ll have much more opportunity to celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
And make no mistake, celebrating small victories is just as important as the work you did to accomplish them. Have a favourite meal that’s not allowed under your regimen? Indulge. Feeling like a film instead of your weekly run club? Treat yourself. These little celebrations will give you the balance and break necessary to come back stronger the next time you’re exercising.
5. Introduce Variety
After months of your chosen fitness routine, things may be getting a little stale. Luckily, we live in an age when there are more outlets for exercise than ever before. Exercise “regimens” no longer must be so regimented.
Indeed, diversifying your routine — think adding a couple of kickboxing classes to your usual treadmill-or-bust schedule — is one of the most powerful ways to reduce burnout and, as one study put it, “increase adherence” to the routine. Variety also allows your body to heal faster, by targeting different muscle chains or swapping aerobic exercises for anaerobic.
“Whether you’re just starting a new programme or been training for a while, you’re going to see your results plateauing,” Savyell says. “Therefore, variety is always important.”