How small changes and good routines can build the healthy lifestyle you deserve
Over and over, we see people who aim to get healthy or lose weight by changing too many bad habits all at one time. They push themselves too hard, set unrealistic goals, and forget to make fitness fun, which can set them up for disappointment and failure. If you want to stay committed to your goals and set yourself on the path to success, follow these steps:
- Start small and keep it simple. If your goal is to lose weight, make it five or 10 pounds, and when you reach that goal, make it another five or 10 pounds. Set many small goals instead of one big unattainable goal.
- Be realistic. You know yourself better than anyone. What can you realistically commit to?
- Have a plan. Write down your plan for the day or week, and then follow it. If your goal for the week is to exercise three days, decide the days and times that work for you, write them on your calendar, and treat them as appointments.
- Don’t give up. If you miss a day because something came up, donít use that as an excuse to give up. It is almost inevitable at some point that this will happen. Start right back up the next day. Nothing lost.
Do it your way
Finding an exercise program and routine that you enjoy is key to sticking with it. Try exercising with a friend, you could attend an exercise class together, or walk and visit at the same time. Another option would be to read a book on an exercise bike, or to tape a favorite show and watch it while you exercise. Find the activity that fits your personality and motivational needs. Some people need a group class because of the social aspect it provides. Others prefer to have time to themselves away from other distractions. Whatever your exercise preference is, just get into a routine and you will find it to be very rewarding. Anything is better than nothing at all, and once you start to see some results, it will give you the incentive to keep on going.
Enjoy all the benefits, one day at a time
If you haven’t exercised in a few years, or are new to exercise, start with 10 to 15 minutes of cardio two times a day instead of 30 minutes all at once. Then, add some light resistance training. Continue to gradually increase your cardio time and resistance training until you are at the recommended guidelines. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends adults get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise five days per week, two to three days of resistance training per week, and two to three days of flexibility exercise per week.
To find the motivation to stay with your goals, try thinking about all the other benefits that come from exercising. First, you are working your heart, the most important muscle in the body. You will also have more energy, burn more calories at rest, decrease risk of illness, manage stress, increase lean body mass, improve flexibility, reduce blood pressure, lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, improve your immune system, reduce body fat, keep bones strong, improve breathing, reduce the risk of arthritis, sleep better, lower anxiety, and improve your overall mood. Over the years I have heard people say, “After attending cycling class three days a week for six months, I got off my blood pressure medication,” or, “As long as I use the low back machine it keeps me from going to the chiropractor,” and my favorite, “I have lost 50 pounds and I feel so much better.”
So what are you waiting for? Make your goals, find your routine, and don’t give up! //–Terrill Meier, Aberdeen Family YMCA Group Fitness Manager