New year, new mindset: setting fitness goals
The new year is an opportunity to make a fresh start. The holidays give us time to relax, reflect, and prepare for the year ahead. When January hits, we're ready to make a change. Many of us set fitness goals, whether it's working out three times a week or training for a marathon. However, we don't always choose realistic goals. Use these tips to help you make a fitness plan you can stick with throughout the year.
Creating a fitness routine is a great way to invest in your physical and mental health. But it's not enough to simply say "I want to exercise more." You need a road map for your fitness journey.
To start, try these steps to build a routine:
Set realistic goals. People come in all shapes and sizes. Rather than focusing on losing a specific amount of weight "this year," set a goal for physical activity you can accomplish today or this week. For example, schedule time to work out three days per week. A few other examples of realistic, measurable goals include:
- Taking a 10-minute walk every day for a month
- Stretching for 15 minutes every day
- Experimenting with three new types of exercise during the month
Talk with your healthcare provider if it's been a while since you've been physically active and need help setting safe fitness goals tailored to your needs.
Pick something you enjoy. Exercising shouldn't feel like a chore. Your fitness plan should include physical activities you like, whether it's riding a bike, doing yoga, playing basketball, or participating in fitness classes at the gym. Try to strike a balance between aerobic exercise, which gets your heart rate up, and resistance training, which helps build muscle mass.
Set aside time in your calendar. If you don't exercise regularly, it may be hard to determine how you'll fit workout plans into an already busy schedule. Take a look at your calendar and find a few times each week you can dedicate to a fitness routine. Also, be honest with yourself about when you're most likely to work out. If you're not an early bird, exercising first thing in the morning might not work for you. Try scheduling a workout over your lunch break or in the early evening.
If you need inspiration for your fitness routine, try these suggested fitness plans from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or use these workout ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Set yourself up for success by thinking SMART about setting goals:
- Specific: Your goal should be clear. For example, you can have a goal to walk 10 blocks by the end of the month or perform 15 squats by the end of the week. An unclear goal will be harder to achieve.
- Measurable: Ensure you can track and assess your progress while working toward your goal.
- Attainable: Your goal needs to be reachable. It's OK to push yourself to work hard, but don't be unrealistic.
- Relevant: Make sure your fitness goal matches your lifestyle and abilities.
- Timely: Your goal needs to have a specific deadline.
Don't be too hard on yourself if you need to adapt your SMART goals throughout the year. It's better to adjust your targets than give up on your resolutions entirely.
Remember the benefits of exercise
Setting fitness resolutions — and sticking to them — offers many benefits. But all physical activity is good for you, regardless of whether you reach your fitness goal. If you start to feel discouraged or wonder why you're trying so hard, keep the bigger picture in mind to stay motivated. Exercise helps with:
- Disease prevention: Exercising helps lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise has also been found to reduce your risk for cancer, Type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and dementia.
- Strength: Resistance training and weightlifting build and maintain muscle mass.
- Weight management: Regular physical activity can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Plus, exercise releases endorphins. These brain chemicals boost your mood and make you feel more relaxed.
When reaching your fitness goal, mindset matters. Here's how to make your new habits stick:
- Use positive self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves has a big impact on our success. Instead of saying "I'm too tired to work out," tell yourself, "I'll feel great after I go for a run." Be kind and encourage yourself instead of being negative.
- Track your progress. Keeping a record of your accomplishments can help you stay motivated. Get a small notebook where you can log your workouts, or keep a running note on your phone.
- Use the buddy system. You're more likely to stick to a fitness plan if you're accountable to somebody else. Work out with a friend — it's fun, and you can cheer each other on.
- Reward yourself. When you meet a goal, even a small one, take time to celebrate your success. This could mean treating yourself to new clothes or workout gear or taking a relaxing bath after your workout.
If you need support on your weight loss journey, Reid Health can help. We provide medical fitness services with a focus on exercise, nutrition, and behavior management to help patients in East Central Indiana and West Central Ohio. To get started, contact us today.