Happy New Year! We're excited to get 2019 off to a running start. At Cal Fit, we love the energy in our clubs during the first part of the year. We have many new members along with familiar faces that we're seeing more frequently. For those who make New Year's resolutions, goals about personal health consistently top the list of most common. Eating healthier, getting more exercise, and maybe even losing weight frequently top the charts when people are discussing their goals for the new year. Which is not surprising--we are bombarded with daily information on the benefits of keeping your body strong and healthy.
Unfortunately, kicking old habits to the curb and implementing new ones aren't quite as simple as writing down a resolution. Especially when it comes to your health. Don't despair--we're here to say you CAN do hard things! Sometimes the first step is making sure that your goal is manageable and you have the tools in place to work towards it. We love the mantra that lifestyle guru Rachel Hollis repeats on her Rise podcasts: "Hope is not a strategy." In other words, when you want something, it takes more than hoping to make it happen. You have to go beyond merely wanting to do or have something to actually coming up with some strategic actions to bring what you want to fruition.
This applies to any goal. Along with setting a general goal, make sure you've thought through a strategy to take the steps needed to accomplish your goal. If you want to exercise more in 2019, focus first on eliminating the things that will prevent you from getting more exercise, and then putting small habits into practice that will help you establish the larger habit.
For instance, if you have trouble finding time to fit in a workout around work and other responsibilities, take some time to evaluate your schedule. Is there something you can eliminate? Better yet, can you multi-task to get something else done while you are at the gym? Maybe you can get in some TV time on the cardio machines, or listen to the audio version of the book you've been meaning to read. Next, make it easier to fit in your exercise time by prepping ahead for the inevitable excuses: pack a gym bag with pre-workout snacks to keep at-the-ready in your car, block out time in your work and personal calendar, and get a friend to meet you at the gym for extra motivation.
We found some great tips from The Mayo Clinic to help you make and reach health-related goals successfully this year. They suggest that a successful exercise program begins with the following four steps:
- Consult with your doctor. If you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
- Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury. Don't just focus on cardio--strength training is recommended at least twice a week.
- Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming. (Check out all our classes here to find something you'll enjoy).
- Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
A few more tips from The Mayo Clinic to help you stick with a new fitness program:
- Set SMART goals. Write down SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals.
- Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.
- Change up your routine. If you've always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.
- Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can't fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. Interval training, which entails brief (60 to 90 seconds) bursts of intense activity at almost full effort, is being shown to be a safe, effective and efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of longer duration exercise.
While the Mayo Clinic's suggestions are geared for exercise, they can be applied to any healthy habit. Maybe you have a goal to eat healthier this year--set a SMART goal that will help you measure progress towards a specific nutrition goal. Start small, focusing your efforts on improving the nutritional content and quality of just one meal per day. Allowing yourself to be successful in just one step towards a larger goal can be incredibly motivating, and lead you towards continued improvement over the course of time.