We all know the laundry list of benefits that accompany regular exercise: reduced risk of disease, less stress, improved heart and brain function, weight loss, more restful sleep, etc.
So why is it so damn difficult to develop a fitness habit that sticks?
With New Year’s looming, many of us will make resolutions to work out more in 2017. We know that we need fitness in our lives, and next year gives us a clean slate to try again.
Sticking to your fitness commitment is not an impossible endeavor. You just need the right mindset and strategies in place to avoid the common pitfalls that snag so many.
We asked four fitness experts to share their best tips for developing a fitness habit that lasts. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Christmas Abbott Kills Excuses With Accountability
Anyways, Christmas is adamant that we need to place a high value on our fitness and eliminate every possible excuse that could keep us from going to the gym. It’s all about accountability.
“If you’re struggling to stick with your fitness regimen, the most crucial thing you can do is create accountability for yourself. By eliminating your excuses, you will make your workout mandatory. If you give yourself the choice and say ‘oh maybe I’ll go to the gym today,’ chances are you aren’t going to go.
Stay consistent with your schedule – make your workout your priority. We only get one body and it’s your responsibility to take care of it! Nothing trumps your own self-care.”
2. Amy Mac Doesn’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy Of Good
Her advice is to stop being so hard on yourself when it comes to fitness and create a flexible plan that works for your schedule. A workout doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.
“If you are struggling with your fitness plan, step back and evaluate it. What makes it too hard to complete? Are you asking for too much time, energy, or a commute to get it done? Consistency is the best plan so even if you have to scale back your goal to have a better success rate, you’ll benefit in the end.
For years, I thought of working out as a 2-hour time commitment. If I didn’t have that amount of time, I skipped it and was always disappointed and frustrated. Years later (and 2 kids), I’m thrilled to fit in my 12-minute Pilates DVD, 30-minute early morning jog or a quick weight circuit. My ‘now’ fitness goal is to fit in a workout, not the perfect workout.”
3. Diana Abreu Believes Bad Goals = Bad Results
Diana Abreu is a Mexican fitness coach who HackYour.Fitness’ Mexican readers have probably seen on Imagen Televisión, where she hosts her own show.
She sees a lot of people holding themselves back by setting bad goals, and instead recommends setting short-term goals that are more achievable and allow you to make progress every day.
“The thing I would recommend is that people must focus on short term objectives that are more approachable, instead of thinking of the long term results that sometimes seems so far away and make people want to quit.
Their goals can be, for example, run 5 more minutes every week, do more reps or increase weight, quit refined sugar and flour, drink more water, etc. One thing at a time. As long as they see and feel they are moving forward they are going to stay motivated.”
4. CrossFit Krypton Prescribes The Buddy System
Charlie Smith is a coach at CrossFit Krypton, the popular CrossFit gym in Virginia. One of the first things he recommends to any new trainee is that they bring a friend.
Working out with a partner means you’ll think twice before skipping your workouts—thus leaving your buddy to work out alone—and increases the likelihood that your fitness habit sticks.
“Find a partner and make a commitment to each other that you will stick with a program (together) for a short period of time (at least a month). This peer pressure will help you get to the gym and do the work. If you can make it a month, you should have adjusted to a new lifestyle and it should be easier to continue on your own, even if your partner has had enough…”