By Josie Rubio
By now, we’ve all probably heard the statistics about sticking to New Year’s resolutions. According to some sources, one in three people are still maintaining by the end of January. Other figures say that about 64% of people are hanging in there on those promises made at the dawn of the new year, with the number slipping to 44% six months later.
Whether you made a resolution or are just making a fresh start, finding a fitness routine that you enjoy and sticking to it is tough. If you’re thinking about throwing in the sweaty gym towel, think instead about revamping your fitness goals and your routine -- and ask yourself these questions:
Is your fitness goal realistic? Taking a few days off from working out can easily turn into months — or years. One expert recommends one thing to all clients: setting a realistic, short-term fitness goal that’s challenging, but manageable, to keep you motivated.
Are you finding “you” time? Caring for others is important, but experts agree that guilt might actually be getting in the way of looking after yourself — and your health. Research has shown that exercise actually lengthens your life. Remember, if you’re fit and healthy, you’ll actually be better at caring for your loved ones, and it’s OK to put yourself first sometimes.
Do you need a new mindset? Maybe you have the right clothes and the gym membership, but the biggest obstacle might be in your head. Try one of these five scientific strategies for changing your mindset, such as having a Plan B workout or making your workout fun, and you might find the key to sticking with exercise.
Do you hate your class? Most of us have been there. Ten minutes into an hour-long class, you’re sweating, shaking and wondering how you’re going to get through the next 50 minutes — or even the next five! Can your tears pass for sweat? Here are some signs of a bad exercise class and, of course, some tips for how to put that bad workout in the rear view mirror. A recent study found that people with positive memories of past workouts were more likely to work out more often in the future.
Do you need to mix it up? According to a University of Scranton survey a few years ago, the top resolution made was weight loss, while being healthy and fit was at number five. The number six resolution was to do learn something exciting. Why not learn something fun and exciting that keeps you fit too? Take a new class, sign up for a walking or running group, or just try something new! (Check out the stories of six people who hated exercise and eventually found something they love, from running to yoga to boxing.)
Are you working out too hard? When we talked to fitness experts for our roundup of 2015 trends, several said that while high-intensity interval training is effective, it’s not the best workout for beginners. Research has shown that the higher the intensity of the workout, the greater the risk of injury. And if you’re sidelined by soreness or pain from an injury, it might be harder to get back into the swing of things. Take it slow and build from there, instead of committing to a vigorous, lengthy workout right away. (Check out the ih8exercise Run 1 Mile plan.)
Do you have your eyes on the prize? If you’ve decided to start a walking program, research has shown that focusing on a goal while you're walking makes the distance seem shorter and makes you move faster. Set visual goals while you walk, and your daily walks will make your routine seem easier.
Is your personal trainer a lemon? Working with a personal trainer can be a great way to learn how to work out safely and effectively. When you find a good trainer, you’ll find yourself actually wanting to work out (crazy, but true). If you’re not happy with your trainer, however, consider these five warning signs that he or she might not be the right fit.
Do you need a workout buddy? Having a friend to work out with — whether you’re going to the gym, classes or small group personal training — can be a motivating factor when you’re thinking of skipping a workout. If you’re looking for the most reliable of workout pals, consider the four-legged variety. (Obviously, we mean dogs, who need to be walked daily, rain or shine. Cats are better napping partners.)
Do you need a new playlist? A study published last year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that music not only makes working out more enjoyable, but it can actually improve your fitness performance. What are you waiting for? Time to find the “Eye of the Tiger.”
What’s your tip for sticking with an exercise plan?