By Irene Blumenthal, PT, MBA, Vice President of Community Services
1. Make a realistic and exciting goal
You will quickly get discouraged if the goal you set is too complicated or unrealistic, e.g. “I will complete a marathon.” You should be able to accomplish your first goal in 3-6 months to keep yourself motivated or excited, and your goal doesn’t have to be weight related. It could be something as simple as completing your first 5K race, or to be able to play a soccer game with your kids without getting out of breath.
2. Start small
Even though the recommended daily exercise is 30 minutes, you can start small by breaking that up into achievable segments: 10 minutes walking at lunch, 10 minutes playing with kids, 10 minutes stretching before bed. Remember, anything is better than nothing!
3. Check with your physician first
This is especially for anyone with chronic medical conditions or those who have not exercised regularly in many years. Seek approval before beginning any kind of formal program.
4. Try something new
Let’s face it, walking on a treadmill day after day is boring! There are so many fun ways to get your exercise in – try something you have never done before, like a zumba class, swimming, or boot camp. For more experienced fitness buffs, reach out of your comfort zone. Try a TRX class, hot yoga, or a ropes course.
5. Take a friend, spouse, or join a group
There is nothing more motivating than being accountable to someone! Whether that is a friend or spouse, or the many exercise groups there are, when you commit to a schedule with another person, you are much less likely to cancel when you are busy or just don’t feel like it. You become motivators to each other, so it’s a win-win for everyone!
6. Eat healthy
You can’t be fit if you eat junk. There is no amount of exercise that will undo a bad diet. Once you begin to exercise regularly and eat well, you will stop craving junk. There are not a lot of people who go home after a great workout and eat donuts and drink soda, because your body begins to adjust to the changes and wants healthier fuel. Indulging once in a while is okay, but once it’s consumed everyday it’s no longer an indulgence, it’s a habit. Commit to eating clean (natural, unprocessed foods) five days per week.
7. Take it outside
The fresh air of being outside makes exercise more fun. Go for a walk, play with the kids, or go for a bike ride. And it doesn’t just have to be formal exercise. Even raking leaves, vigorous gardening, or cleaning up the yard counts as calorie burning activity.
8. Sign up for a class or the gym, and pay in advance
Another great motivator is money, more precisely, not wasting it! If you sign up for something and pay for it in advance (as opposed to a pay-as-you-use-it-membership) you will be very unlikely to cancel or not go because you are tired.
9. Try something at home
If you are not ready to join a gym or go to an exercise class there are literally thousands of at home programs and DVDs you can try. You can mix and match them and not be concerned with who will see you or how you will look, and if you don’t like one of them, just move on to the next!
10. Stick to it
We’ve all heard it takes 21 days to form a habit – both good and bad. After a few weeks of regular exercise, you will WANT to exercise, rather than just tolerating it. You will feel lethargic and bad if you don’t exercise because your body is getting used to the newfound energy and power. The best way to continue feeling strong and energetic is to continue to exercise!