Have you just signed up to Walkfit or set yourself a new challenge? Maybe you’ve announced it on social media too or joined a weight loss group. Often, a few days after you’ve begun your new regime, real life starts to get in the way. There’s a reality check in the shape of a tempting glass of wine, a takeaway or a lie in – anything other than your training programme. You know you should get your workout in, but when your alarm goes off, you can think of lots of things you’d rather do than drag your tired behind outside. It doesn’t take much to derail a new routine if you don’t build in some fail-safe measures. So here are six top tips for sticking with it.
1. You deserve it!
Investing time in yourself is a worthy priority. Think of it as something as necessary as say, eating a meal, because if you think of exercise as a chore, it will be. Make it non-negotiable, just like any other appointment in your calendar, by blocking off an hour in your schedule for exercise just as you would do with a dentist’s appointment, a meeting or coffee with friends. If you don’t look after yourself so that you’re a healthier mum, dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, gran, grandad or employee, who will? Make time for it in your busy life and, gradually, it will become a habit. You’ll find yourself saying: “Can’t do Tuesdays or Thursdays. Those are my Walkfit/BMF mornings.”
2. Set Yourself Up for Success
Breaking up a big challenge into smaller chunks is a great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of what lies ahead. To avoid giving a microphone to that internal voice that says you can’t do it, set yourself daily, weekly and monthly objectives and tick your achievements off one by one. For example, if your goal is to work out for five days a week and you currently don’t even know where your trainers are, then start by simply finding them. Check! Then try them on and check how old and tattered they are. Maybe a shopping spree is in order? Then you need to start getting your foot candy a little bit dirty! From there, progress to working out on one or two days a week, then more. That could mean starting with walking short distances and building them up; resting less frequently; increasing the number of classes you attend each month or increasing the intensity of your workout by using heavier weights or pushing yourself harder. You’ll soon reap the benefits.
3. Catch that worm!
Reduce the risk of getting distracted by doing your workout in the morning and by planning ahead. Set your alarm clock earlier than usual and put out what you’re going to wear the night before. This helps avoid the temptation to change your mind! Once you’ve ticked off your workout and posted it on Strava (or similar), you’ll be left with that smug feel-good factor, safe in the knowledge that the rest of your day can pan out as it likes but you’ve got your training in the bag. It won’t be nagging at you for the rest of the day, challenging your willpower.
4. Buddy Up
It’s more difficult to bail out on a class if you know your friend is waiting to meet you there. You won’t want to let them down and there’s the bonus of their banter and a good gossip with them to look forward to too. Make a friend at your Walkfit or BMF park or take someone along with you who is working towards a similar goal. That way you’ll enjoy the friendly competitiveness of working out with them while having a witness to your workout – and someone to share the pain when you push yourselves!
5. Ignore your internal drama Queen!
Sometimes you’ll start well. Then you’ll step out of the door wearing your trainers or cycling gear, only to have to battle the ‘excuses’ devil on your shoulder with every fibre of your being. Your brain will put on an Oscar-winning performance trying to persuade you to rest. This is our evolutionary survival mode kicking in, assuming we need to conserve energy in case we are pursued by a sabre-tooth tiger later. But you can easily overcome these moments with the logic that there aren’t many jaw-snapping predators in gyms or parks these days. Once you begin your warm-up and feel that initial rush of oxygen reaching your blood cells, you’ll have no trouble carrying on. If you genuinely feel exhausted, then scale back on that day’s session with no harm done.
6. Track, Log, Blog!
Monitoring your activity and seeing the benefits of your actions through the progress you’ve made will stop you from giving up. You can use a Garmin GPS watch or Fitbit, manually enter details onto apps like My Fitness Pal or go old school by using a diary, notepad or spreadsheet to track your progress. There are a wide range of gadgets available that sync with sites like Facebook and keep track of everything from the number of steps you take each day to calories burnt, your heart rate variation, distance covered, sleep pattern and nutrition. Posting your workout on social media also has its benefits. Taking your journey to a public forum such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram keeps you accountable and by letting your friends know what you’re up to, you’ll garner their support.
So, what are you waiting for?! See you in the park!