A few years ago, I committed to changing my lifestyle and experienced amazing physical and emotional results. However, in the midst of a move, an injury, and the general chaos of life, I fell off the fitness wagon. 40 pounds later, I am struggling to reestablish my fitness routine. Tonight as I was thinking about what works for me in regards to fitness, I thought I would share these as encouragement to others facing the same journey.
1. Turn off your computer and get off the couch.
2. What? Are you still reading? To be effective, you must follow step number 1.
3. Don't be afraid to try new things. There is an exercise routine that is effective for everyone. Some people love to work out alone, some thrive with partners. Some people love to run, others dance. Some prefer the privacy of their living room, others the busyness of the gym. Sometimes it takes a little while to find your groove.
4. Don't give up. Results may come slowly. The magic fix you are looking for doesn't exist, but consistent, small life changes will eventually yield big differences. For me, I began to see big results on day 42.
5. Just because you fall off the fitness wagon doesn't mean that it's all over. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin again. Evaluate the factors that crashed your fitness routine and make plans to deal with them better in the future.
6. Be realistic. My body has naturally gravitated for years toward a size 16. If I expect to look like the girl on the cover of Fitness magazine after 6 weeks of working out, I set myself up for failure. True success is about meeting my own personal goals, not about looking like I'm a teenager again. I ask myself questions such as: Did I work out as many times this week as I planned? Did I improve my form, increase my reps or weights? Can I run a little longer without feeling like a four alarm fire is burning my lungs? Do I have more energy than I did three weeks ago?
7. Evaluate your eating habits. Even the best workout can't completely overcome a bad diet. This is probably the area where I struggle the most. My husband is an amazing cook, and I find portion control challenging.
8. Laugh at yourself. There will be times when you fall out of the yoga pose, stumble on the treadmill, or trip over a crack in the pavement. A sense of humor is necessary when making lifestyle changes.
9. Visualize your success. Picture yourself running across the playground with your children or grandchildren. See yourself laughing and enjoying life with greater energy. Imagine sliding into your jeans without holding your breath. Believing that you can be successful is half the battle.
10. Find encouragers. There are people in your life who will pat you on the back when you run your first mile, finish your first yoga class, or lift weights for the first time. Listen to the people you love and who believe in you.
Best of luck - may you find a happier, healthier you in 2012!
What is your most helpful tip for those just beginning to exercise?