If you’re like me and many others, you know it’s time to get back into better shape. If you’re like me and many others, this isn’t the first time you’ve said that and this won’t be the first time you’ve tried. There are some common-sense tips we can all follow that will get us to our goals once we’re prepared to accept the fact that getting out of shape didn’t happen overnight, so neither will getting back into shape. The good news is that reaching our goals won’t take nearly as long as getting to where we are now–as long as we actually stick with it this time!
It seems easy enough, right? Too often, though, we feel the need to go from zero to 100 all at once. Since we’re not always able to do as much as think we should, we end up getting discouraged and frustrated. Instead of just shooting for the moon, shoot for the moon with stops at closer points along the way. If your goal is to jog five miles a day, start off walking five miles a day. If a two-mile walk is all you can handle right now, that’s fine. And that’s two miles a day more than you’ve been walking, right? Increase your distance as you’re able until you reach five miles. Then work on jogging part of the way and walking the rest. You’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you reach your jogging goal. The same is true of any exercise routine. Start by doing as much as you can and work your way up, with your goal always being to do just a little more than you did yesterday. Consider buying the best treadmill you can afford to help you in your journey. And then use it regularly. A treadmill can be a great way to get in some extra steps during your favorite show.
In addition to breaking your exercise goals into stages, you should do the same with weight loss goals. If your ultimate goal is to lose 40 pounds, break that up into four 10-pound increments. Celebrating milestones along the way can help keep you more encouraged and motivated, making it more likely that you’ll reach your long-term goal.
This same principle also works for healthier eating goals. Giving up all of the “bad” foods and beverages all at once is usually a recipe for disaster. Instead, slowly increase your water intake, and make regular smaller changes to your food and drink choices. Decrease your coffee or soda intake over a few weeks. Gradually replace refined carbs with whole grains. Slowly introduce more fresh produce. This gives your body and your brain a chance to adjust to new eating habits without feeling like you’re depriving yourself of your favorites.
Make a note of your starting weight and measurements. Write down your ultimate and short-term goals. Document your starting walking distance, or number of pushups you can do, or whatever else helps to measure your current fitness level relative to your goals. Tracking your progress along the way helps you to see that your hard work is paying off, and this is another great motivator. Just don’t track progress on weight and measurements more often than once or twice a month. It does take a little time for your hard work to show on the outside, but trust me, if you start eating better and moving more, you will reach your goals.
Stick with it
Don’t give up just because you don’t think you’re progressing quickly enough. Getting “there” slowly is better than not getting there at all. If you find yourself getting bored with your workouts, change things up. This helps to keep your brain engaged and your efforts more effective. Chances are, it won’t take more than a month or so of a healthier diet and more exercise for you to start feeling and looking better. Think of how much better still you’ll look and feel if you don’t give up on yourself!