Is your new fitness plan built for the long haul?


By Dave Ongie

So you made a New Year’s resolution to get back in shape. You joined a gym, bought some new sneakers and you’re off and running.

But there’s something you should know before it’s too late – odds are good that your resolution will be history by the second week in February. According to a recent study by U.S. News & World Report, about 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within the first six weeks of the year.

Here are five ways you can become a success story instead of a statistic:

1.    Chart your path

“We set these enormous, seemingly insurmountable goals, and then we get frustrated when we’re not making great progress,” said Dr. Karen Cassidy, medical director for UnitedHealthcare of Tennessee. “When I set resolutions for myself, I try to do that in a way where they’re smaller, kind of baby steps towards the larger goal, so they feel like something you can actually obtain.”

If you embarked on this journey with “I’m going to lose 50 pounds” as your mantra, your will power will fade fast. Instead, set exercise goals that can be measured and obtained on a daily or weekly basis.


2.    Settle in for the long haul

“The thing is, it didn’t take you one month to get there,” said Ryan Gouge, a personal trainer at The Wellness Center. “It didn’t take you one month to gain the 30 pounds, so you’re not going to lose it all in one month. Don’t make (your goal) so unattainable that if you don’t reach it right away, you’ll give up.”

The first few weeks of an exercise program a real danger zone because progress isn’t always reflected on the scale at first, and the physical pain associated with a new exercise program can be demoralizing. Gouge’s advice? Put your nose to the grindstone and the results will come.


3.    Mix pleasure with business

“If it’s hard for you to go out and do that walk, try to do that walk while maybe you listen to a book on tape you really love on your phone,” Cassidy said. “Trying to have some kind of reward or pleasure in the system when you’re changing that habit can be helpful.”

When the treadmill becomes a grind, have a mix of your favorite music to pass the time. Sprinkle in some Netflix while you ride the elliptical machine or look for a group fitness class that takes a physical activity you enjoy and turns it into exercise.


4.    Be accountable

“My best piece of advice is have someone to hold you accountable,” Gouge said. “That way, you always have to report back to them. If it’s just themselves, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I can blow it off,’ but if they have to report to that person, then they’ll be more likely to stick to that program.”

A buddy waiting on you at the gym will make it harder for you to skip a session. If you don’t have a friend to work out with, tell co-workers, friends or family members about your fitness goals. Ask them to hold you accountable, and allow them to share in your success.


5. Make it personal

According to Amy Mooney, a personal trainer at The Wellness Center, her most successful clients are the ones who find a compelling reason to get fit and hold on to it through good days and bad. Finding a “why” behind your resolution can be the difference between success and failure.

“It’s very personal, so I try to find what they are struggling with in life and we try to tackle those things head-on so we can move those mountains out of the way, or at least start climbing them,” Mooney said.


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