In today’s fast-paced world, it can be tough to stick to beneficial life habits. We’ve all struggled with making a positive change stick. The road to the gym is no exception, especially when we pass the multitude of fast food restaurants, holidays, and other social engagements that involve food. With so many potential pitfalls, how can you set yourself up for success? Here are ten hacks to make the gym routine a regular–and dare I say–enjoyable part of your life.
Take the Plunge
We’ve all started a New Year with the best intentions of joining a gym, going regularly, and hitting our fitness goals. However, just setting that goal isn’t going to be enough. Set up an appointment, of at least three at different gyms to tour. Ideally, you can do this on the same day, and don’t let your head hit the pillow before you’ve signed up for an actual membership.
If you’re really committed to yourself, make it at least a three-month membership. You’re more likely to maintain our routine if you can stick to the plan for at least three weeks. Increasing the amount of time that you’re required to pay, you’ll only increase the odds that you will make it the full three weeks and beyond.
Now that you’re a card-carrying gym member, you’ve got to use it to make it count. Start with small goals. Only requiring yourself to do five-minute workouts is a great way to get yourself off the couch. By setting these small goals, you’ll realize that you can make it through anything for that long. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself increasing your time.
People that start working out often set their ultimate goal right away (lose all that weight, gain all that muscle, run faster than you ever have before!). However, breaking that large goal into smaller goals keeps you motivated and you’ll be more likely to continue your plan even when you encounter minor setbacks.
Weekly goals are a great start. Some options may be losing a single pound, eating healthy for three meals, going to the gym four times. Just like the five-minute workout, small goals will ultimately lead to the larger picture.
There are days that we just don’t feel like slogging it out on the treadmill, but if you know you’re working toward a reward, it helps keep you focused. Rewards don’t have to be large or expensive. It may be a new piece of workout gear, a massage, a magazine subscription, or maybe it’s that new pair of pants that you can finally fit in! Just beware of setting rewards that are counterintuitive to your ultimate goals like that box of Twinkies, or the large meat lovers pizza all to yourself.
Allow the Cravings
When we don’t allow ourselves to eat the things we want because they are “bad” for you, it only heightens the desire for that item. It might be chocolate or a cheeseburger. The key isn’t to deprive yourself of the foods that you love. Meals should be enjoyed, but now is the time to exercise moderation.
If you can’t get your mind off of the Nutella, you could always purchase the individual size rather than the large jar. Eat half of the chocolate bar, or just eat a slice of that pizza. You’re trying to set a lifestyle for yourself, and complete deprivation shouldn’t be a part of that. As you continue your health journey, you’ll realize that you crave the fatty foods less, and really start enjoying the foods that fuel your body.
Join a Group
The odds are good that your gym offers some additional fitness classes. Look around for some classes that you would actually attend. Not all of them will be a hit for you, but you’re likely to find something that will suit you. It also helps to sweat it out with a group of people going through the same brutal workout you are. By joining a class, you’re also likely to meet some new friends, and gain the accountability to keep coming back.
We often hold our goals tightly to ourselves. The worry that we won’t achieve them fuels the fear that other people will know if we fail. Embrace your choice and tell the world. Just like attending the class, this will increase your odds of success and raise the level of accountability. Your coworkers are likely to ask you how things are going, and on days that we aren’t feeling motivated, that can help get you into the gym. You may also find that you become a motivation for those around you to make a positive change.
Write it Down
Just putting a goal on paper helps you to recognize what you are really working toward. Your goal may have been ambiguous and difficult for you to really achieve. Writing it down helps you to clearly see what you are working for. After you’ve written it down, put it somewhere you’ll see it. Maybe it’s just a post-it on your computer screen, or a piece of paper on your nightstand. If you have really good handwriting, maybe it’s a framed piece of art!
Make Missing an Effort
People often view other things getting in the way of their routine. Try to take a different approach by making a workout day a conscious effort. When selecting a gym, try to pick one that you absolutely have to drive by on your way home. Place your workout bag in a place that you can’t miss when you head out of the door in the morning. It’s okay to listen to your body and take a day off when you need to, but by making yourself accountable, you’re more likely to work out when you know you should.
Don’t Do One Workout
No, this doesn’t mean that you don’t ever need to get started. When you start an exercise routine, you may find that it’s, well, routine. Break out of your cycle and incorporate new workouts as you feel your interest wane. It can be a different class or a different machine in the gym. If you’re having difficulty finding a new approach, you can always hire a trainer for a few sessions, or there are a variety of apps that can steer you in a new direction.
Ready to make the transition to a healthier you? There’s no time like the present!
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