For many of us, the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied our New Year’s resolutions has already worn off. The stress of work and family obligations can be overwhelming and lead to self-sabotaging behavior. Whether you resolved to re-commit to your workout plan, hone in your nutrition, join a gym or all of the above, finding motivation during these freezing winter months can be challenging. These tips can help keep you physically and emotionally prepared to stick with those healthy goals you set for yourself.
Surround yourself with people who motivate you. As the saying goes, you are the company you keep. Successful people can usually be found associating with other successful people. The same premise holds true when it comes to nutrition and fitness. One necessary step towards changing your life for the better is to take inventory of the people you are surrounded by. If your friends are constantly eating fast food, playing video games and making unhealthy choices, it may be time for you to take a break from them. You owe it to yourself to be surrounded by supportive, like-minded individuals.
Bonus: You very well might find that your friends jump on board and adopt your healthy habits into their lives as well.
Find exercise that inspires and excites you. There is no question that not everyone is cut out for the gym. For some, a crowded gym is an assault on your senses and can be difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, a lot of people use their gym-aversion as an excuse not to exercise. Don’t let yourself fall into that category. There are a TON of options out there that combine fun and fitness, including belly dancing, spin classes, rock climbing, Pilates, kick-boxing, karate and roller-skating. Make the commitment to try ONE new type of exercise each month until you find something that you connect with.
Bonus: It is almost certain that you will meet new people in your quest for exercise inspiration.
Challenge your challenges. Build small, micro-challenges into your workouts to keep you focused on your goals. If your exercise plan for the day includes five sets of bicep curls, push yourself to do a sixth set. If your daily biking target is eight miles, find the impetus to pedal nine miles. If you have given yourself the weekend ‘off’ from exercising, get yourself to the gym first thing Saturday morning. The additional small challenges that you create for yourself are instrumental in keeping you motivated and inspired to stick with your plan. As you complete them, your self-esteem increases and your thinking begins to shift from “I can’t” to “Heck yeah, I can!”
Bonus: Your strength and endurance will increase exponentially as you meet your mini-challenges.
Have a variety of workouts on tap. Very few people enjoy doing the same exercise routine day after day, week after week, and month after month. There are days when the thought of lifting weights makes you want to cry or the idea of taking a Zumba class is laughable. Acknowledge that you will have days where you need to mix up your workouts and make a list of alternative exercises you can do to make it through your fitness funk.
Bonus: Your muscles and joints benefit from changing up your exercise routine.
Give reverse-journaling a try. We are all familiar with the traditional food journaling method of keeping track of everything you eat and writing it down in a notebook or logging it into a smart-phone app. What if, instead of tracking all of the foods you ate each day, you wrote down all of the foods you RESISTED eating each day? This visual pat-on-the-back serves as daily personal positive reinforcement. Acknowledging all of the staff-room donuts, lunch-date chips with salsa and PTA meeting cupcakes you managed to avoid indulging on can provide you with a real “Atta girl” (or guy) moment!
Bonus: Looking back on your reverse-journals will give you insight into how food-obsessed we are as a society and highlight your willpower.
Remember WHY you are doing what you are doing. Too many people look at exercise and healthy eating as a punishment. They complain about having to go to the gym or whine about not being able to eat what they want. Committing to a fitness and nutrition plan is something that you are doing to HELP yourself. Every drop of sweat and healthy food choice is a gift you are giving your body. Make the conscious choice to shift your thinking from negative to positive.
Bonus: When you smile, you release endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress levels. Wouldn’t you rather smile than frown?
Know your exercise plan BEFORE you get to the gym. You are much more likely to have a successful workout if you have planned it out ahead of time. Some people find it helpful to work certain body parts on specific days of the week. For example: Monday- biceps, triceps and shoulders, Wednesday- legs, back and abs, Friday- biceps, triceps and shoulders. Also decide how many minutes of cardio and what type of cardio you will be doing that day. A written schedule is a great way to stay consistent and avoid slacking off on your exercise routine.
Bonus: Having your workout plan prepared in advance is one less thing you need to think about on a given day. How refreshing is THAT?!
Do what you can, when you can. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. If you can’t muster the energy to make it to the gym, at least put your coat on and take the dog for a walk. If the idea of leaving your house makes you want to hide under the covers, pick a room and clean it. If the roads are too icy for you to run, put on some music and dance around the house. Any time you are increasing your heart rate, you are stimulating your metabolism and burning calories.
Bonus: The endorphins you release during your cardiovascular activity will improve your mood and bolster your energy for the rest of the day.