10 tips for sticking to fitness goals

  • Published
  • By Courtney Campbell
  • 5th Services Squadron
It happens every New Year. The gym fills up and aerobic classes overflow with new faces eager to make a change. Thousands of Americans will decide to get fit and lose weight, and what better time because the New Year is a time for new beginnings.
But by the time February rolls around, most of these New Year's "resolutionaries" will give up and wait to try it again next year. Why does this happen to so many people every year? We are a society that demands instant gratification and results, but deciding to make fitness a part of a New Year's resolution has to include a lifestyle change. Sorry, but there are no short-term get-fit-quick plans.
Here are some tips to help you fight the urge to give up on this resolution.
First, change your attitude about fitness. All too often, people think of exercise as punishment -- painful, time consuming and obligatory. If this is how you feel, you have already set yourself up for failure. Instead, think of it as a chance to unwind from a stressful day; a little time all to yourself and a way to improve your quality of life.
If you are a beginner, start small. Try walking for 30 minutes three or four times a week. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park in the back row of the parking lot. Aerobic programs on many bases also offer a "getting started" class. Once you are ready to increase your fitness level and need more of a challenge, pick a sport or activity that piques your interest. Try a kickboxing class, use a rock climbing wall, or train for a five- or 10-kilometer run.
Choose an exercise buddy who will hold you accountable and help motivate and encourage you. If your buddy can't make a workout session, you should still go. Stay the course and get your workout done. Experts say anything done for 21 days is habit forming and when done for six months, becomes part of your personality. And don't forget, you will be motivating and encouraging your buddy at the same time.
Schedule your workouts as you would any other appointment and commit to them. Make it a convenient time like when the kids have left for school or as soon as you get off work. If your job allows you time to work out during the day, take advantage of the time. You will go back to work feeling rejuvenated.
Use the facilities you have around you, like the base gym and its excellent equipment. There are always a variety of group fitness classes, including step aerobics, spinning, kickboxing, yoga and Pilates to pick from.
Set attainable goals for yourself and write them in a journal. Track your progress, workouts and meals in it. This gives you a visual record of your strengths and weaknesses and acts as a guide to show you where you need to work a little harder or make course corrections. Reward yourself after attaining a goal. Buy a new pair of shoes for sticking to your first week of workouts, get a massage after you have lost your first 5 pounds, buy a new outfit for working up to 25 push-ups, take a vacation for dropping two clothing sizes. You deserve this.
If your goal is to lose weight, avoid getting on the scale day after day. Your weight fluctuates as much as eight pounds between morning and night. You may be retaining water or it may be that you have added on lean muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. Do an initial weigh in and taping, then repeat this every six weeks to check your progress. In between weigh-ins, depend on the mirror and the way your clothes fit to see if you are making positive strides.
Be prepared to work out whenever you have time. Keep a gym bag packed and readily accessible so you don't have to scramble before a workout. Pack your lunch to avoid the trip through the fast food drive through. If you get the munchies halfway though your day, load your office fridge with healthy snacks and water. Be prepared for minor setbacks that can hinder your workout and diet, like sickness or schedule changes. Make adjustments if you can, or simply pick back up where you left off.
Learn healthy eating habits. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Switch to whole wheat and whole grain breads, rice and pasta. Also, eating a variety of healthy, natural foods helps the body to recover from workouts faster and allows you to train harder. Don't skip meals. It can slow your metabolism and hinder weight loss. Health and Wellness Centers have pamphlets on healthy eating.
Now it is up to you. Go check out what the gym has to offer, pick a couple of group fitness classes to participate in and stock your cabinets and refrigerator with healthy food choices. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are unsure about exercises or machines at the gym ask the staff for help. If you are not sure which aerobic class is for you, ask an instructor.
Go and do it. You will love the way you feel.