Don't be a quitter - get yourself fitter
8 ways to get fit and stay fit
How many times have you and people you know, announced that they are on a fitness drive? And how many times has that fitness phase fizzled out before it’s even really started. Wanting to get fit is one thing, but actually doing it and sticking at it is quite another. However help is at hand to get you into shape and stay there.
Set a fitness target
The secret to the success of any fitness campaign is motivation. If you can stay motivated, you have a fantastic chance of achieving your goal. And a goal is the key to it all. If you have a target, a race, an event, a dress size, or a ‘something’ to aim for, the chances are you will stick to your regime. Without that kind of incentive it is easy lapse into an aimless attitude to exercise which just doesn’t produce results.
So if you want to stay on course with a plan, make sure you have a firm target in mind that is realistic, practical and achievable. Tell your friends and loved ones what you are trying to achieve and get them on board with your plans. Stick a motivational picture or pictures on your computer, fridge, back door or phone and make exercising and getting fit the focus in your home and life.
Keep an exercise diary
Keeping a fitness journal is another weapon in the fitness armoury. Keeping track of how much you’ve done is a wonderful way of feeling inspired by your efforts and how far you’ve come. It’s also a brutal reminder if you haven’t done any exercise. Empty pages in a diary might just shame you back to the gym.
Schedule your workouts
Having a fitness plan will help you appreciate how important it is to schedule exercise into your life. Ambition and achievement are two different things and all the enthusiasm in the world can’t generate more than 24 hours in a day. Accepting that modern day life is extremely busy, you need to make time for exercise and fit it in around all the other things you do.
Look at your work/social diary carefully and schedule your exercise. Fit in runs/workouts at work during the lunch break or make a workout part of your commute (for instance you could run or cycle to the office). If you allocate that slot on your calendar/diary then you are much more likely to do it. If it’s in your diary it will feel like a commitment which feels more difficult to break.
Find a fitness buddy
This can be anything from a running group/club to a regular gym class or even booking yourself in with a personal trainer. Whilst we might all find it easier to just skip a solo session, it is much harder to do when you know someone else is relying on you being there.
Learn to listen to your body
Having encouraged you to force yourself to go to the gym when you don’t really feel like it, it’s also important to make sure that the apathy you’re feeling isn’t being caused by over-tiredness, illness or over-training. One of the biggest mistakes enthusiastic fitness newbies make is trying to do too much too quickly. Results take time and patience and if you throw your body into something too vigorously and too excessively, it will eventually break down under the stress.
If you feel an ache or pain that just won’t go away or you feel tired all of the time and lack energy/enthusiasm, get some professional advice. If you really are hurt, don’t train, get some rest and come back fitter and stronger when the injury/illness has healed.
Cross train to stay motivated
Making sure you stay mentally and physically fresh is important. Getting stuck in a rut that becomes boring and less challenging for your body can bring down even the most committed exercisers. By mixing up your workouts and doing other types of exercise or cross-training, you will avoid boredom, keep your body and muscles on their toes and more importantly, give your major muscle groups a break.
For instance runners often cycle, weight train or swim, anything non weight-bearing to give their hips, knees and ankles a rest. Conversely cyclists might try a run, swim or row to work muscles that aren’t normally activated on long bike rides. The mental benefits are also significant because doing something different in a different environment is refreshing and will keep you interested and stimulated.
Musical fitness motivation
Using pumped up music while you work out is a great way of releasing those endorphins and exercising with a smile. Some prefer to go for a long run with an audio book or podcast, while others like to go to a spinning class with loud music and motivational instructors. Ask yourself what you prefer and try different things along the way. Reading motivational books is also recommended because the inspiration of others and what they’ve overcome can help you stick at your regime.
Setting mini targets along the way to your main target is another great way of making exercise fun and successful. It’s a great way of celebrating how far you’ve come and making your end goal seem even more achievable. So whenever you reach a certain landmark remember to treat yourself. That could be anything from a new pair of shoes or a new item of clothing to an ice cream treat.
Whatever it is you enjoy the most, make sure you have it as a reward for all the hard work you’ve put in and recognition that there is more to do. This is a particularly good idea on days when you really don’t feel like going to the gym. Let’s face it we all have them. Promise yourself a special treat if you can get that workout done. That little incentive can make all the difference between exercising and skipping a session that can suddenly become two or three.