Each year millions of people make a resolution to work out and eat better. They start out strong on January 1st just to quit within a few weeks.
My sister, Jean Watt is an ACE certified group fitness instructor with over 30 years of experience in the fitness industry, so I decided to ask her advice on how to commit and stick with a routine that can last.
HOW DO WE DO IT?!
Germaine: So many people make New Year’s commitments to start working out just to break them a couple weeks into the year. What do you recommend they do to help them avoid quitting?
Jean: Newcomers to a healthier way of life tend to look for the quick fix, thinking that a couple of days of exercise is going to erase 20 years of bad eating and being sedentary.
My job as a fitness professional is to help newcomers to fitness understand that losing weight is a by product of getting healthy and fit. It doesn’t happen in a few days or by working out one hour a day for a month. It means a life long commitment to eating right, daily movement and an emotional and mental reboot.
Get social! At the start of every class, I ask everyone to turn to the person next to them and introduce themselves. Newcomers to the class then get a face and a name to connect with. There is security in knowing that there are others who are working towards a similar goal. Friendships develop and because their friends are going to class, they go too. Next thing you know they are taking other classes together and training for a 5K and committing to long term change. Support from others keeps you accountable and goes a long way to keeping members focused and committed to a healthier lifestyle.
I also remind my clients that what they do the other 23 hours of the day is as important as what they do for one hour in the gym. Eating right, getting enough sleep and maintaining a strong emotional focus in addition to daily exercise all contribute to a healthy, fit lifestyle. It’s a beautiful thing.
FIND THE RIGHT WORKOUT
Germaine: Finding the right workout is key to staying happy but how do you keep that interesting?
Jean: I say mix it up. If you never do anything but jog, a few months of jogging is not only going to get boring but your body becomes conditioned to that way of moving. You don’t get the same result from jogging as you did when you started. Adding HIIT (“High Intensity Interval Training”) to your daily jog will up the intensity and challenge the muscles and cardiovascular system. Adding HIIT not only gets results but you get them in a shorter workout. Genius!
Taking a variety of fitness classes can keep things fresh. And you don’t need to belong to a club to take a fitness class. There are lots of apps and online programs out there that put you in a group setting, provide variety and keep things interesting.
Add strength training to your routine. Vary the exercises with each session and focus on working a primary muscle group, opposing muscles and secondary movers.
Hire a trainer. You will learn new movements and new ways to work that will freshen up your routine.
Stretch. Flexibility is important for mobility and balance, especially as we age. Plates, yoga, and core strengthening classes help improve posture, lengthen muscles, improve circulation and the lymphatic and immune systems.
Doing things you love but may not consider exercise is also a way to mix it up. Gardening, playing catch with your kids, walking the shopping mall or walking your dog are examples of exercise without feeling like you are “working out”. They all count towards daily movement!
FIND THE RIGHT PACE
Germaine: How many days a week do you recommend working out?
Jean: The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, and strength training at least twice a week.
These guidelines are just that – guidelines.
Your individual fitness level will initially drive how many days a week you work out. I suggest that newcomers start with two sessions of moderate cardio, one of vigorous cardio, two strength training sessions, and a session of stretching each week. Each session should last between 30 and 60 minutes.
There are six elements of fitness – cardiovascular training, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, body composition and nutrition. Try doing something each day that supports one or two of these elements and you have a balanced program.
Germaine: How do you get past the feeling of wanting to give up.
Jean: It’s okay to cut yourself some slack. Consider that this is not a competition with an end and a winner. It is a lifelong commitment to being healthy. Every new day is a new opportunity to do something great – there is no quitting when you take it a day at a time.
Phone a friend and go to the mall for coffee and a walk. Buy a fitness magazine. Sign up for a race. Keep track of your progress. Looking at what you’ve done and how far you’ve come can inspire you to keep going. Hire a nutritionist to revamp what you eat. Look at what you’re doing – are you eating right, getting enough sleep, taking care of your emotional needs?
Tweaking things can reignite your interest and make you feel better about what you’re going. And remember, taking steps towards being healthy is not a short term plan but a lifestyle change. You are developing good habits that will take you through the rest of your life. And THAT is awesome!
So there you have it! No more excuses for breaking your resolution. Get back at it by following Jean’s advice and make this your healthiest year yet. Your body will thank you.
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
We found a leg-up on fuss-free exercise, without leaving the house!