If you talk to many gym owners, they’ll tell you all about the surge of new members who join in January—and how the majority of them are gone by March. Many people start out a new year determined to get in shape, don’t get instant results, and give up. But if you want to see results from any exercise regimen, you have to stick with it.
Fortunately for anyone who’s having trouble staying on schedule, there are many things everyone can do to avoid the hopeless “What’s the point?” feeling that can come from not experiencing immediate physical progress.
Below are 10 top tips fitness experts recommend to help workout newbies stay focused on an exercise routine until they start to see results:
1. Dress the Part—
If you don’t have to go to work, or work somewhere that allows sporty attire, put on your workout clothes when you get dressed in the morning.
By being ready whenever the motivation hits you, you’ll be more likely to hop in the car and head for the gym, hit the streets for your daily run, or pop in that exercise DVD and get going.
If you work in an office setting and have to exercise after work, keep your gym bag and athletic clothes packed and ready to go by the door where you’ll be sure to grab them on the way out.
2. Become a Morning Person—
As the day wears on, we naturally lose energy, and this can lead to a loss of motivation as well. By working out first thing in the morning, you can make sure exercise happens no matter how exhausting your day may become later.
Many people also find that starting the day with exercise energizes their body and wakes up their brain, allowing them to function more efficiently at work.
3. Make Exercise a Priority—
Without our health, nothing else in life goes as well as it should, making it the number one priority. Many people categorize daily workouts as an expendable luxury, when really, daily exercise should be at the top of the list.
Make it clear to family, friends and employers that exercise is an important part of your life schedule, and then make it so.
4. Find Something Fun—
Many people, upon hearing that a certain type of workout is best will force themselves to participate in a completely unenjoyable activity. If this scenario sounds familiar, it might be the source of your exercise routine sabotage.
But moving your body regularly should make you feel better, rather than miserable because you loathe what you’re doing. So find an exercise you enjoy, because you’ll be much more likely to stay the course if you don’t dread it.
5. Let Go of All Expectations—
Expectations only set us up for disappointment, and disappointment leads to demotivation, so try not to set extreme fitness goals. Most experts recommend short, easily attainable goals instead allow those trying to get in shape little victories that keep them going.
Make sure your physical goals are attainable. For example, trying to recreate the same physique one had pre-baby is a common fitness goal, yet not realistic, as pregnancy is extremely hard on women’s bodies and can permanently change them.
If you can create a new reality for yourself, you’ll be less likely to become discouraged when the impossible doesn’t happen.
6. Focus on your Health—
It’s important to remember why you’re ultimately exercising: because you want to be healthy and feel better. We can sometimes get caught up in the vanity-related aspects of exercise, which can make it very disappointing when we see little progress in these areas.
Instead of getting bummed out because you haven’t yet gone down a size, focus on how much stronger your muscles feel, how you’re building bone density, and lessening your chances for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure every time you exercise.
You may not be able to gauge the results of your hard work visually, but every time you work out, you’re becoming healthier.
7. Write It Down—
Schedule your exercise in a daily planner and hold yourself to these sessions as you would any other appointment. Not only will this remind you to find the time to work out every day, it will help hold you accountable to your regimen.
8. Reward Yourself—
Positive reinforcement works, and by rewarding yourself for your accomplishment, you’ll be more inclined to keep doing it.
For some, this reward may be in the form of a new shirt or pair of shoes after so many workouts, for others, something as simple as a sticker on the calendar may motivate. Just remember to pat yourself on the back in some form or another to stay motivated.
9. Cardio Diversions Can Help—
If your gym offers mini-televisions with cardio equipment, take advantage of this by bringing headphones to plug in. Watching an entertaining show can take your mind off the exercise and make it seem to go by faster.
Headphones with your favorite music blasting or reading a book on your electronic device are other great ways to make cardio time more bearable.
10. Start Slow—
No matter what form of exercise you decide to do in your workout routine, start slow and gently increase the intensity over weeks.
Many people make the mistake of starting off too fast, only to injure themselves or become burned out, both of which can derail the best-laid fitness plan.
If your New Year’s resolution was to get fit and you’re starting to slack off or feel demotivated, use the 10 tips above to get your workout program back on track so you can achieve your goals, be a success story, and feel great.