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How often have you found yourself getting into the swing of things with a new exercise routine soon to feel the initial excitement wear off and other responsibilities eclipse all of your good intentions? You are not alone. Taking the initial step towards getting active is difficult but the more challenging and important task is maintaining your commitment to the activity by creating a fitness habit.
The following top 5 tips will set you up for success and help you sustain long-term fitness!
1. Find your motivation. Well-being first – aesthetics last.
A study by researcher Diane Klein, Ph.D. has confirmed that long-term exercisers (those working out for an average of 13 years), ranked feelings of well-being as their top motivators, above ranking abs or biceps as most might think. So when you’re thinking about the question of “why” to get active, look to the following for the reasons…an increased fitness level, more energy, improved sleep quality, feeling focused, reduced stress levels, healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. These markers are much more likely to keep you motivated over a long period of time.
2. Write it down and commit.
Get specific. Sit down and assess your weekly schedule to dedicate crucial “me” time. Being able to mentally prepare yourself for the activity you plan to engage in will be key for consistency. For example, write down: I will exercise 3 times per week for 20 minutes on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday right after work. If you happen to miss a session, don’t sweat it. Pull out the calendar, re-commit and pick up right where you left off.
3. Pick activities you love.
If you arbitrarily engage in the latest trend just because it’s the “best new thing to get fit”, think again. Many activities and programs offer results, but they typically come with repetition that can be boring. Choosing an activity you enjoy will allow you to look forward to each and every session, in turn establishing a healthy relationship with exercise. This will increase consistency and your ability to learn and progress because you enjoy it.
4. Slow and steady wins the race.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. More goals on the checklist may have you feeling Herculean to start but trying to go from zero to hero comes with a price. It will leave you in danger of feeling overwhelmed and opening up plenty of opportunities to fail which can result in completely giving up. This ties into tip #2, write down realistic goals, establish a manageable time frame and commit. This will give you an adequate amount of time to establish your routine by seeing what works and what doesn’t. Take a step back so you can take two steps forward when you are ready.
5. Reward Yourself.
You’re doing great and you’ve hit your goal! Rewarding yourself can keep motivation levels up by validating that you are indeed on your way to a positive behavior change. Establishing a reward system can be particularly important in the beginning stages of a routine when your input can sometimes outweigh the (visible) output. Be smart with your reward choices and do not let them be your sole driver. As mentioned earlier, let feelings of well being inspire you and your reward will be the proverbial icing on the cake!
We all know how easy it is to start and endure bad eating and living habits. The challenge is to replace these with healthy eating and fitness habits to last a life-time. The secret is to follow these tips and to remember that this time, you don’t want to fall off the fitness wagon –you want to pull it!
By Alex Ciccone. Alex is a vegan Canfitpro “Personal Training Specialist”. He has trained privately and through company owned gyms, and actively promotes veganism and fitness. He is a longtime competitive soccer player, and has played on several Provincial Central Soccer League championship teams.