Tips For Sticking With Your Fitness Resolutions

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Monday, January 6, 2014
This time of year a lot of people start working on dieting and getting fit because of their New Year's resolutions. A lot of people will give up. It can be a struggle to keep motivated to exercise and eat better. Over the years I've had some lapses but overall I'm doing much better than I was when I started. Here are a few things I learned over the years that might help you keep at it until you reach your goals.

Your Out Of Shape. Deal With It!

You're not going to have the sexiest body at the gym, you may have a muffin top sticking out the top of your bike shorts or you jiggle like a jello sunday when you run.

Who cares! The other people at the gym or on your running path are generally there for themselves, just like you are. For the most part, they ignore you and you ignore them. The staff and other people aren't going to make you feel uncomfortable.

This one gym I used to go to years ago used to have old, fat men walking around naked in the locker room. They didn't care. Be like them. Don't let your vanity stop you from working on your goals.

If you're like me you might want to get some black moisture wicking shirts because they don't show sweat as much as other shirts and are very comfortable when working out. Especially when I have to walk back through town on my way back from a trail run.

Expect it to be hard at first.

If you're new to exercising, or even if you just haven't worked out in a while, prepare for the fact that it's not going to be easy.

Your body needs to adapt. Not just the muscles you're using but all the intricate systems that deliver fuel to your muscles. Your cardiovascular system especially.

Pick up some Sportscreme and use it liberally right after you get out of the shower after your first workout and probably again the next day. Especially if you're weight training. Your muscles might be so sore you won't be able to move them without pain.

Wait until the soreness subsides if it's really bad before you start again. Whenever I start weight training again after a long hiatus I can't move my arms for 3 days. After that first workout, the soreness doesn't get as bad.

Don't expect it to get much easier!

The whole point of training is to push yourself a little harder as you progress. When things are feeling easy you're probably not pushing yourself enough.

What will change is your soreness won't be as bad and the many benefits will outweigh the few hours a week of torture you put yourself through. You'll also enjoy challenging yourself and seeing the results. It doesn't get easier, you get harder.

Set realistic goals and adapt them

You may want to lose 50 lbs by your June wedding but can you really do it? You won't know unless you try but don't set yourself up for failure. If you're halfway to your goal date and you've only lost 1/4 of the weight are you going to feel discouraged and quit?

Be willing to fall short of your goals if they might have been too ambitious. It's better than being so discourage you give up completely or worse... Push your training or your diet too far and wind up hurting yourself and have to stop completely. Until you get started and your body starts to ramp up to the new routines you won't know what you're capable of. Adjust your goals if you have to when you get a better sense of how you're doing.

In the beginning things may be tough but as your body gets stronger you'll be able to do more and see results faster.

Don't get discouraged

If one day you can't lift as much or maybe run as fast or as far as you did the week before, then do less. It happens. Your body may be tired from other things or maybe you didn't eat as well or maybe didn't get enough rest or maybe you didn't drink enough water. Who knows? Our bodies and minds are very complex machines.

Don't ever let your ego push you so far that you hurt yourself or make training less enjoyable than it already is. You'll start to get a good understanding of your limits as you go on.

I used to play a bit of online poker successfully and one aspect of the game that is very important happens away from the tables. Managing your bankroll. As you win more money you move up in stakes and it feels great! But if you start losing, for whatever reason, you may need to go down in stakes and reevaluate. This is where a lot of people let their egos get in the way and wind up losing all their money.

Having discipline doesn't mean foolishly pushing forward. You also have to have the discipline to take a step back when you need to and avoid the road to ruin.

At times you may find yourself unable to keep up with your workout schedule. Know that you might need to take things a bit easier when you start back up again. Be smart.

On some days everything will even align perfectly and you'll be able to do much more than you have done previously.

Don't expect linear results

When my dad was sick I remember one of his nurses telling me "recovery is not a straight line". There will be peaks and valleys. As long as the general trend is in the right direction, that's all that matters. Don't let short-term results (good or bad) cause you to make the wrong decisions.

Every so often I fall off the fitness wagon and need to get back on it. After I first lost 40 lbs I gained 30 back and had to lose it again. This is a chart of my weight while I got back into a fitness routine again a few years ago.

Weight Loss Graph

You can see that I had weeks where my weight went up instead of down. At one point I even went back to the weight I was when I started. These things happen. Don't let it discourage you. As long as you're doing the right things, you'll make progress. Ask yourself... Am I giving all I can when you exercise? Am I being consistent with my diet and eating healthy? If you're doing those two things the results will come.

These days when I slip up it's only about 10-15 lbs or so. You can read more about that chart on my post on how I lost 30lbs for free.

Record your progress

Keep a log of your results and various stats. It's really the only way to know how you're doing and when you need to make changes. Things will happen gradually and sometimes move up and down so I like to keep a spreadsheet of how things are going. There are even some phone apps that can help you with this.

One of the most important pieces of equipment you should own is a heart rate monitor. I have a Timex heart rate monitor watch that I like and found on sale. Another affordable option is the Omron HRM which I discussed in my post on getting started with P90X CHeap. I'd love to get a Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor Watch with Polar Flowlink - One - Black or maybe the Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor that can be used with my phone but it's not in the budget right now.

Just get something. Your heart is a very important part of your training. It pumps blood that delivers oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and carries away the waste produced by your muscles. Understanding and monitoring how your heart's performance increases will allow you to do more (or less) to get the best results.

If weight loss (or gain) is your goal then make sure to track your weight regularly. Your weight will fluctuate throughout the day and week. It's best to pick one day a week to weigh yourself. Do it at the same time that day. I like to do it on Saturday mornings after I get out of the shower. I'm using a regular digital scale but want to get something like the Ozeri Touch lb Digital Bath Scale which also measures other things such as body mass index, hydration and more.

Also pick up a flexible seamstress tape to take body measurements that you record on a regular basis. Once a week, once a month... Whatever fits your schedule. Sometimes you'll be surprised to find out that even though your weight isn't coming off as much as you'd like, you're losing more inches around your waist than your weight loss will indicate.

Track your time and mileage when running, walking or biking. Track your weight, reps and sets when weight training. The more information you can record the more you'll know how well you're doing and when you need to make changes. It also makes you feel good and motivated after seeing what you're accomplishing.

Don't give up. If you do, start up again. These are things you need to get used to doing for the rest of your life. Keep the long term in mind.

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