It’s a New Year: time to refresh, reboot, recharge, revitalize, restore. As we start this New Year, I want you to think about this word…. commit. The dictionary definition of commit is: 1. Carry out or perpetrate 2. Pledge or bind (a person or an organization) to a certain course or policy. Now this is sometimes easier said than done, right? There are many distractions and many things going on in all of our lives that fitness sometimes drops off the priority list. Having this word “Commit” flash up on your cell phone, little post-it notes around your house or on your mirror, maybe a picture or quote by your bed to remind yourself of the commitment you made to yourself can help keep your commitment in perspective . Your commitment to your own health is dependent upon the importance you give it; only you can change you. You are what you make of your commitment. This means you need to have a plan—if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Commitment needs structure, guidance, and some positive reinforcement when the goal is to make long term, lifestyle changes. How can you stay focused and committed to your plan? Try these suggestions:
1. Change your perspective
Shift your thinking from what you were to what you want to be. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as big of a leap as you think. Stop using your busy life as an excuse not to exercise and start viewing exercise as a way to set a strong example for her spouse, kids, and/or grandkids. At first it may appear as time away from them, but then you will realize your family will see what you’re doing and may even join you.
Start thinking that working out during odd hours as a blessing rather than a sacrifice. Find inspiration in others, looking outward for extra motivation. Take inspiration from everyone you meet, even people who can’t be physically active. This personally makes me feel exceptionally grateful! Whether you need to hang an “I’m lucky” sticky note on the mirror, or you can see the power of health in your family’s eyes, committing to a fitness routine begins in your head. Commit to yourself!
2. Set a goal
There’s nothing more motivating, although sometimes even scary, than that first 5K looming in bold letters on the calendar. Set SMART goals that include Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals. If it’s the race you’re interested in, register early and commit to an exercise program that will get you in the proper shape by race day. Provide yourself clear milestones, and as you progress toward your goal, you’ll find a ripple effect occurs and things fall into place in your work, home life and health. Of course the goal doesn’t even have to be an organized race. Maybe it’s a mission to get on and off the floor with your 2 year old grandson or fit into that old pair of jeans buried in your closet. Whatever it is, define it, write it down, and revisit it daily.
Make sure it’s realistic and that you can and will adapt your life to meeting those goals. Things in your life may have to change, if you do not change direction, you may end up where you were to begin with. Commit to your goal.
3. Schedule a regular workout time
Some of the most committed exercisers do it every day before the sun comes up or late at night when the kids are in bed. Sit down with your weekly schedule and try to build in an hour each day. It’s easy (I didn’t say maintaining your health would be easy) to stay in bed. But you have to set an alarm and take the extra initiative. Then you’ll find you have more energy and can be more efficient throughout the day.
If you convince yourself you’ll fit in a workout sometime after that last meeting, once the kids go down for a nap, or when your spouse arrives home on time, failure is certain. Write your workout on your calendar, set up daycare, and rearrange things around this one time as if it were any other important appointment you have to keep. Use technology like daily e-mail reminders, workout journaling websites, or phone applications to keep you on task. That time is your time, commit to your body!
4. Think fun and variety
By nature, humans need change and variety to stay motivated. We also need and like to have fun, even while we’re working hard so why can’t we have both?
Whether it’s a cardio or toning and sculpting class that changes choreography every week or a trail run that changes scenery every season, design your exercise routine around a variety of exercise methods. Cross training is an ideal way to develop a “balanced” fitness program. Varying your workout routines engages different muscle groups. Make sure you include activities you truly enjoy and look forward to doing. Think movement that’s more like recreation and makes you forget you’re working out like dancing, hula hooping, or playing sports with family and friends. Listen to your inner kid voice when choosing the best workout for you. Workout variety also challenges your body in unique ways, which may introduce you to new muscle groups you didn’t even know you had. Commit to movement.
5. Reach out to others for support
In America, some tend to have trouble asking for help, yet in order to stick to a fitness commitment, we need enthusiasm and encouragement from other people.
Maybe building exercise into the family life could be seen as a necessity. Maybe taking a walk or bike ride replaces watching TV together. For others, it’s finding a friend with a shared drive for running, and planning scheduled workouts together. It is easy to hit the snooze button when it’s just you, but much harder to leave a friend waiting at the track. You are 50% more likely to adhere to your workout when you do it with another person. Consider staying in touch with people you met here at H3, following and starting a fitness/health blog. Also consider joining a social networking site or online community with fitness trainers and nutrition experts and support from other people trying to lose weight and maintain healthy eating and exercise routines. People who get this kind of online support are proven to lose three times more weight than people going it alone. Lobbying your workplace to offer on-site fitness classes will also support your mission for a healthy lifestyle.
Start thinking of yourself as the person you want to be, set a goal, enlist a friend, mark it on your calendar and have some fun. You’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of better health, more happiness, and more energy for everything else in your life.