Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Ways to Keep Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions

I know, I know: fitness resolutions are supposed to start on January 1st, not on December 26th. But really, why wait? "I'll start my diet on Monday" or "I'll join the gym next month" are just ways to put off starting the hard work and dedication that it takes to become fit and healthy. But, seriously: why wait until January 1st? Get a jump start on reaching your goals now!

I confess that December hasn't been a great month for me fitness-wise; between being busy and putting the gym on the back burner, going to Christmas parties, being home for the holidays and catching up with old friends, I've slacked off in a big way. I've always been an active person, and genuinely enjoy going to the gym, but I am also a very all-or-nothing type of person, so when I fall off the bandwagon, I really fall. And, just like everyone else, it's all to easy to come up with excuses to not work out or to not eat the healthy things I know I need to! But as of today, I'm rededicating myself!

Around this time of year, there are countless articles about how to stick to your fitness resolutions, and I confess, I am hardly an expert! But I know from my own experience how difficult it can be to start a new fitness regime or change your eating habits for the better, and here are a few things that have helped me over the years:

1. Take a Variety of Exercise Classes
I am not a runner--never have been, doubt I ever will be. So for me, going to the gym is definitely not about hitting the treadmill for an hour. My attention span is way to short for that, so what I love to do is find a variety of exercise classes that will keep me engaged, entertained, and provide a well-rounded workout. My personal favorite are the Les Mills series (for more info about what these classes are, and where you can find them, go here), but there are a million and one types of classes--there will be something out there for everyone!

Enjoy dance? How about a ballet-based Pure Barre workout? Or Zumba? How about Bikram Yoga? Or regular yoga? CrossFit? Step aerobics? Water aerobics? Kickboxing? Muy thai? Tai chi? You get my drift. There is literally something for everyone out there. If joining a private gym is not an option for you, YMCAs and community rec centers around the country offer great classes. Or you can work out in the privacy of your own home with the P90x series or Turbo Jam. See what exercise DVDs are at your local library so that you can give them a test run before making a commitment. The same goes for a gym--all gyms should offer you a period where you can work out at the gym for free before joining.

2. Start a Bet
Working out and losing weight can be a very personal issue for some, while others need a little friendly competition to spur them on. It's a completely personal choice--but if you are the type who needs to be challenged, why not start a bet with a friend, a sibling, a co-worker, or a spouse? In my experience, basing these types of bet on sheer number of pounds loss is a mistake--everybody loses weight at different rates, some have more to lose than others, etc.

But setting the terms of the bet around an activity can be a great incentive--the person who works out the most number of hours throughout the month, or the person who logs the most miles run, or the person who follows their healthy eating plan for the greatest number of days per month. Again, the options here are virtually limitless. Cater your bet to your personality and what will motivate you the most.

If you don't have a person in your life to make a bet with, there are lots of apps out there that will allow you to do the same thing. Have a look at the Gym Pact, OptimumizeMe, and FitBit.

3. Focus on Health & Fitness, Not Fitting into a Size or a Number
This is hardly a revolutionary or even novel statement, but the overwhelming majority of people who go on diets or who start workout regimes fail. They don't stick to their diets, gain the weight back, and stop working out altogether. I am sure there are hundreds of experts who can pinpoint the human psychology behind this behavior, but it seems fairly obvious that at least part of this cycle can be blamed on the focus of a short-term fix: losing 20 pounds for a wedding or fitting into a size six in two months. While it's great to have short- and long-term goals to stay motivated, I think that focusing on overall health and fitness is far more motivational.

Everyone wants to have the body of Jennifer Aniston over night, but the reality is that it takes dedication and consistency. And it is far easier to have that discipline when the reasons are your own health--for yourself, for your children, for your spouse. Fitness has to become a lifestyle if you are going to commit to it longterm, and not as a quick fix. Think about the health issues that you won't have in the future if you commit to healthy living now!

4. Cute work out clothes

On a far more superficial note, may I suggest investing in some cute workout clothes? I'm a firm believer that if you feel better about yourself (and have dropped some cash on some workout gear) you're more likely to stick to it! Plus, ill-fitting and unsuitable apparel can make your workouts less fun and less effective.

There's a huge range of clothing out there--stores like Marshall's and T.J. Maxx carry workout gear at a nice discount. You can also find workout clothes at stores like Target or your department stores, in addition to places like Dick Sporting Goods and specialized stores like Athleta. Lulu Lemon is a very popular, but expensive, choice. I've also recently discovered Zaggora, who sell workout pants, capris, and shorts that allegedly increase your body temperature to allow you to burn more calories. Who knows if they actually work, but it couldn't hurt, right?! DSW is a great place to grab a new pair of running shoes for less than the normal retail price, even on brands like Nike, New Balance, etc.

Keep in mind that during this post-Christmas period, tons of places will be having great sales--take the opportunity to treat to yourself to some new gear! For starters, I would suggest picking up a couple of high-impact sports bras, some fitted (read: not super tight, not baggy) capris or pants, a pair of moisture-wicking socks, and a couple of colorful workout tshirts.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year! Please subscribe to email updates and follow me on twitter!

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