The beginning of the year can be a great motivator for many people when it comes to setting goals–particularly physical fitness goals. With the new year comes the idea of starting over and resetting, but this isn’t the only time for goal setting. If you feel you have fallen behind from where you would like to be, don’t wait to set new goals or recommit to your old ones.
According to several studies, most Americans will experience feeling dissatisfied with how their body looks as some point in their lives. One particular study found that nearly two in five individuals feel dissatisfied whenever they look in the mirror. While these statistics may be sad to hear, we shouldn’t become too discouraged by them. Instead, we can use them to propel us forward in our fitness process. A great way to make changes physically is to get started and stay consistent at the gym.
It has been found that 90% of people quit after 3 months of hitting the gym. Here’s how to be the exception.
Take Progress Photos
I cannot stress this one enough. I know it can feel awkward to take pictures in front of a mirror–especially if we aren’t particularly happy with what we see–but trust me on this one. Because physical changes are most often gradual and take time, it can be hard to see the difference when looking at yourself every day. This is where progress pictures come in. Looking back through old photos can be surprising and motivating.
When taking progress pictures, try picking a frequency that allows you to stay consistent. If it works for you to take a quick mirror selfie before or after your workout, do that! If it works better to pick one day a week, do that. As long as you are holding yourself accountable and staying consistent with your picture-taking schedule, you will be able to see results soon enough.
Plan Your Workouts Ahead of Time
I know it can be tempting to want to skip this step and just head straight to the gym, but when it comes to consistency, going in without a plan doesn’t help. It can lead to a lot of wasted time wandering around the gym wondering what to do next. It is better to come to the gym prepared with a workout that you will stick to. That way, even if you aren’t feeling it, you can still push yourself to complete what you have planned.
Planning a workout beforehand also helps to take the decision paralysis out of things. The fewer decisions you have to make in the moment, the better. This helps to shape a routine. Your mind and body want to take the easiest route possible–this is the way we are built. Use this to your advantage and plan out everything to make your routine as easy to understand and keep up with as possible.
Make It Routine
In today’s world, it can be hard to find consistent times within a schedule, but when it comes to working out, it is best to keep it at the same time every day–especially when first starting. It is easiest to develop a habit when the action stays consistent. When it’s at the same time every day, your mind begins to delegate that time to that activity–minimizing the decisions to choose to do something else.
Track Your Progress
Start tracking your progress (whether it’s time, weight, distance, etc.) so you can see that your efforts are paying off. Keep in mind, that progress often takes time, so you’ll want to keep your progress tracking in a place you can refer back to it often to see how far you’ve come over time.
This is something I regret not starting sooner. This is especially important if you are lifting weights or working out on machines–it’s so easy to just put the pin in the weights and adjust it to where it feels right. But without recording, you can easily forget where you started, and the lack of progress can leave you feeling like you haven’t progressed at all.
Tracking your numbers also helps to keep yourself motivated. As you see those numbers move, don’t forget to celebrate. Even small progress is still progress, so write it down!
While setting personal standards and goals is important, extremes can kill dreams. Don’t set expectations for yourself that are not sustainable long-term. If you are looking to implement something long-term, make it sustainable. Don’t make yourself feel miserable in the process. The better something makes you feel, the easier it is going to be to keep up with. This rule should apply to food restrictions, comparison, and intensity of workouts. Be sure what you are doing is helping you to feel better in the long run, not worse!
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