By: Aileen Kroon, RRCA Run Coach & NASM Personal Trainer
Did you have a fit goal this year?
It’s April, and if you made a new year’s resolution to “get fit”, you may be riding the struggle bus after a winter of cold days and an increasingly busier schedule than you’ve probably had in the last 2 years. You’re not alone; according to Forbes, 80% of people abandon their resolutions, most by the end of February (“The Top 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail And How Yours Can Succeed”). Why? It’s not just that life gets busy or the weather sucks. It’s because they set themselves up for failure instead of success by making 1 critical mistake: starting where they want to be instead of starting where they are.
We’re all guilty of this at some point, in some aspect of our lives. Maybe you go too hard on that girls’ weekend getaway because you think you’re still 4-shot Nancy but now you’re more like 1-glass Jen. Maybe you sign up for the PTA and the HRC and the XYZ because you want to be involved in your community, but you actually only have time to drop off store-bought muffins at the fundraiser. Maybe your dream home remodel design looks like something out of a celebrity magazine, but your budget screams “DIY vintage thrift.” Just because we’re not where we envision ourselves doesn’t mean we should just give up the idea. There is a middle ground, and once we can admit where we are or have someone show us our true starting point, it’s much easier to achieve success and appreciate ourselves. Why? Because we can actually follow through with a realistic goal.
Achieving one realistic goal is addictive. It makes us want to set another goal, and then another goal. Because we know we can do it and it makes us feel good. And this creates a consistent chain of actions.
The secret to fitness results is consistency.
Stopping and restarting each January is like hitting every red light – it’s taking longer and longer to reach your destination. Whether you dream of running a marathon or simply not throwing your back out while dancing in the car, stopping and starting over and over again is going to delay your goals. If you can take some action – however small and insignificant you may think it is – on a consistent basis, then you are moving much closer to your goal than if you stop altogether after a furious bout of intense work.
Consistency creates progress, and progress encourages consistency.
Every single one of my clients has some fitness experience. They either belonged to a gym where they took group fitness classes, or followed along to videos at home, or played sports in school, or some combination. What most of them have in common is that their needs and schedules were mismatched with the type of fitness they were doing – they weren’t able to start where they were, so they couldn’t get where they wanted to be. For those taking group fitness classes, they may have needed more individualized instruction or different exercises to meet their needs and goals. Same for those following videos at home – they often chose workouts that were too intense at the time, and they missed valuable feedback on form. Videos and group classes are made to be “one-size-fits-all”, but fitness is very individual. When a workout program doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, you’re less likely to continue doing it. If you feel like you can’t make any progress, you’re not going to be consistent. And if you’re not consistent, you won’t make much progress.
Here are some tips for being consistent so you can achieve the fitness you dream of instead of feeling frustrated and postponing your goals.
1. Start where you are.
If you get winded walking down your driveway, please don’t start an exercise program that prescribes 5 miles of running every day. You’re setting yourself up for failure (and injury) if you jump levels ahead of what you can do right now. Forget what you saw on Biggest Loser – puking after a workout is not going to keep you coming back (especially if there’s no $100,000 prize at the end!).
If you’re able to walk, start there. Walking is one of the most underrated and best exercises you can do: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes – increase when what you’re currently doing feels easy.
2. Focus on progress, not perfection.
Many people approach fitness with an “all-or-nothing” attitude. If they can’t commit to 5 days of working out, then they might as well just sit on the couch until the week when they can do 5 days. Or, if they miss a week due to illness/life, they think all their hard work is lost and they wait months to get started again.
Fit people encounter disruptions in their training, too, but they don’t throw all of their efforts away when life isn’t perfect. One day of exercise in 2 weeks is still better than 0 days of exercise. Celebrate your progress and ditch the need for perfection.
3. Break a big goal into small, very achievable goals.
Your first goal should be so easy that you really can’t mess it up. Drink a sip of water when you wake up. Eat 1 vegetable this week. Stand up from your desk 3x today. There is no goal too small, especially if you are a beginner! My line with clients is always, “It should be challenging, but doable.” Pick something that will be a little challenging for you, but that you know you can do.
Looking for help in maintaining a consistent fitness routine? Check out my services page for strength training and running packages.
Caprino, K. (2019, December 29). The top 3 reasons new Year’s resolutions fail and how yours can succeed. Forbes. Retrieved March 25, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2019/12/21/the-top-3-reasons-new-years-resolutions-fail-and-how-yours-can-succeed/?sh=61bb18026992