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Sticking To Your Fitness Regime: 5 Top Tips And Tools To Keep You On Track

April 1st, 2012 by Elly McGuinness from Natural Balance Health and Fitness

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the ‘action’ phase and kick-started your fitness regime. But how many times have you started out with the best intentions, only to find yourself back in the ‘couch potato’ lifestyle a few weeks, or maybe a few months later? Use these tips and tools to help keep you on track towards getting what you really want.

1. PLANNING

This is the biggest one and is especially important in the first month of your fitness regime, as it’s the crucial time for developing habits. Write out a plan for your first four weeks and post it on your fridge, or somewhere else you can easily see it. Include what exercise you will do on each day, what time you will do it, and when you will have rest days. As part of your initial four week plan it’s a good idea to book in a few sessions with a personal trainer for some ‘kick-start’ motivation, to check you’ve got the right mix of variables in your programme (frequency, intensity, type of exercise, rest….), and for the extra support you’ll need at this time. By the way, they’re also very likely to work you harder than you’ll work yourself, and a good personal trainer will make your workouts fun as well as effective.

You must have an alternative plan in place to minimise getting off track: Will you still run if it’s raining? What happens if you have to work late and miss the class you wanted to do? Look at your exercise plan, determine everything that could possibly go wrong with it, and make sure you have other solutions in place where needed. Maybe it’s to put on an exercise DVD at home when it’s raining, and if you miss that class after work you know you’ll be setting your alarm early the next morning! You might have heard the saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail” – so get that plan in place (in writing!) and you’ll minimise the likelihood of getting off track.

2. SUPPORT

I’ve mentioned the role a personal trainer can play in helping you, and just as important for support are the people in your life – friends, family and work colleagues. Identify your biggest supporters – those who encourage and inspire you, push you along, or perhaps are very active themselves. Maybe your biggest fan is a partner who will watch the kids while you do your training. Make these people a part of your journey in any way you can, and show them your four week plan! You also need to identify anyone who might hold you back even though they often won’t do so purposefully. Do your friends always push you to have another wine, or do you have a work colleague who tries to stuff cake down your throat every week? You will need to talk to these people about what you’re doing and how important it is to you. Be straight up with them or they’ll keep nudging you in the direction you’re trying to get away from.

3. REWARDS

Set yourself a reward at the end of your first four weeks, as if you can get through this period without too many hiccups, you should be on track for achieving those big goals. While you’re at it, set yourself rewards for your big goals. A great ‘reward related’ idea that I first saw from Catch Fitness in Christchurch is to make yourself a ‘tip jar’. It works like a piggy bank and you could put a coin in it for every workout you complete (how proud will you feel when it’s full!), or perhaps for any other health and fitness targets you set yourself (e.g. cooking a weeks worth of healthy meals)…..a great way to save for any rewards you want later! There’s a Chinese proverb that says “The Journey is the Reward”….so do make sure you’re enjoying yourself along the way too!

4. GOAL WRITING

Get yourself a 1B5 exercise book to help you stay on track. Write your goals in it each day and write down what you are going to do/did that day to work towards your goals. Congratulate yourself on your successes and write down when things don’t go to plan, including anything you could do differently to stay on track. It also works well to have a ‘dream page’ in this book – a visual representation of what you’re striving for. It might include a picture of somewhere you’re going on holiday, maybe a photo of yourself from when you were happy with your size, or perhaps a picture of someone running, if that’s one of your goals. The key to the effectiveness of your book is consistency – use it every day!

5. EFFORT

Know that you’ll need to put in effort to stay on track, and a lot of it! Achieving your goals is simple if you have a realistic plan in place, have strategies set up for any slip ups along the way, and have the knowledge, skills and support needed to get you there. But it’s not easy. There will be days when you feel too tired to get out of bed, let alone go for a run. Invitations will come along that threaten to interrupt your routine, and sometimes it will seem like progress is just going too slow! So go back to that goal book and remind yourself of what you’re going to achieve when you stick with it, and remember that you will always feel better after your workout! If you’re really tired, under a lot of stress, or your muscles are sore from a previous workout, you might need to opt for a gentle walk or stretch routine instead of your usual plan, but just put in the effort to do something and you’ll thank yourself later.

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