Have you gotten to work on your New Year’s resolution yet? Most of you have been hitting the gym or the walking track already, but you might be running into a few problems early in your new routine. Don’t give up now! Just remember these five principles of starting a new exercise program.
Identify your inner reason. Most of us start exercising because we want to lose weight. But reaching an arbitrary number on a scale often isn’t enough incentive to keep going on difficult days. You should identify a deeper, more meaningful reason for your new choice to exercise. Yes, weight loss is central to your motivation, but why do you want to lose weight? Does it make you feel more confident? Does exercise boost your mood or make you feel emotionally stronger? Are you doing this for your health, so you can enjoy a longer life and more time with family? Keep those reasons in mind, rather than focusing on reaching a number.
Comparing yourself to others won’t help. Let go of comparisons to other people. There will always be someone who is stronger, thinner, or can run faster. You’re not doing this for them; you’re doing it for you. The only person with whom you should compete is yourself. As long as your own performance is getting better than it was last week or last month, then you’re winning.
Remember to have fun. If you look at exercise as yet another burden, that is how it will feel. Remember that this is something good you are doing for yourself. You’re giving yourself the gift of thirty minutes or an hour to focus on your own well being. Exercise should feel good! Choose activities you genuinely enjoy, or find ways to make them fun and rewarding.
It’s okay to hit a plateau. Occasionally you will notice that you’ve hit a “plateau”. This does not mean you aren’t making progress! Remember what the word “plateau” means; you’ve hit a high place. Enjoy the view from here, knowing how far you’ve come, and keep going! You will find a new way to challenge yourself soon.
Some days will be harder than others. There will be days that you just don’t want to exercise. On these days, switch up your routine and try something a bit different. Or, bargain with yourself. Promise that you only have to walk (or run) for ten minutes, and if you still don’t feel better you can quit. Once you get going, you will probably find that it isn’t as difficult as you expected. Just remember that challenging days exist for a reason: They test your mental fortitude and creativity. Find a way to get through it, and you will become mentally stronger and better able to handle challenges in the future.