With summer vacations, barbecues and parties, and a lack of routine, it’s easy to put on a few extra pounds over the summer months. September is a time when many people can get back on a regular schedule, and also a time when many think about getting a fresh start in fitness. Whether you are reconnecting with your workout attire or are starting an exercise routine for the first time, remember these tips for success:
1. Set a goal: Setting a goal will make your exercise routine more purposeful. Perhaps you want to run 5 kilometers by November 1st, or simply commit to doing some form of physical activity each day of the week. Avoid focusing solely on weight loss as weight loss varies from person to person. For example, if you set a goal to lose five pounds in a month but only lose two pounds despite following a nutritious eating plan and regular exercise program, you may feel discouraged. Instead, if your goal was to follow a regular exercise program for a month, you will have accomplished your goal and be more motivated to continue working out and eating well.
2. Create an action plan: It is important to know what you want to achieve, but you also have to know how you are going to get there. Take time to create an action plan. I recommend creating a daily checklist of habits that will help you reach your goal. You will be more likely to stick to a plan if you are kept accountable everyday. Also, each day you get to experience success when you check off the box, not just when you accomplish your goal. For example, if your goal is to run five kilometers, your action plan may be to follow a progressive walk-run program three days per week, and you would have three ‘check boxes’ each week.
3. Be realistic: Don’t become overzealous when starting an exercise plan. While it may be nice to go to the gym six days a week, it may not be realistic if you are also juggling soccer and dance practices, and planning to have a home cooked dinner on the table each night. To see results, it is more important to be consistent long term than to exercise hard, but only for a few weeks. Once you successfully follow your routine, you can reassess your goals and think about increasing your activity level.
4. Revisit your goals and your plan often. Imagine if you decided you wanted to go on a road trip to Disneyland, and started driving south, but never again checked the map or any road signs to confirm you were on the right path. Chances are you would not end up in Disneyland! I recommend checking in with your goals and ‘road map’ monthly. Consider what is going well, and what is not going so well. Regular assessments give you the opportunity to tweak your program, or to consider whether your goals are realistic. If you’re not getting results, either your program is faulty, or you’re not following it. Either way, it’s worth checking in, and reassessing your progress.
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio. Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.