Make a Lifestyle Change, Not a Resolution

unhappy about your weight?It’s that time of year again. The time when every fitness club regular has to suffer through the multitudes that cram into the gym with their freshly printed membership cards. Each one determined to make this year’s resolution to exercise more and live healthier a permanent one. But, as I’ve seen before, slowly, the crowds will die out and things will return to normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that people want to improve their quality of life. I live in one of the most obese counties in Pennsylvania (York, if you were wondering). I wish more people made resolutions to lose weight. But I’ve got bad news…

Out of the 45% of people who made resolutions this year, 38% were associated to weight loss. Unfortunately, over half of them will break their resolution after 6 months.

~ Welch Media

If you truly want to achieve your fitness goals this year, there is only one way to do it. It’s not a pill or an “as seen on TV” miracle, it’s a routine, and here’s how to make one that works for you!

I’m happy to say that I’ve stayed true to my October fitness affirmation, I even added to it, but I just recently got over a bump in the road. As you might have guessed, I’m not a fan of health clubs in January. It’s at this time of year that, like magic, a simple 1-hour workout turns into a 2 to 3 hour ordeal. After having had enough, I decided to bring my routine home.

There’s only one problem. It seems that no matter how much you pay for a piece of home workout equipment, it still manages to break. This was the fate of my NordicTrack elliptical machine just a few days before the Christmas holiday. How wonderful.

Thankfully, it is still under warranty, but it did make me realize how important it is to keep a steady workout routine. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after the machine was fixed today and I had to force myself to get on it! Amazing, it only took a few days to go from, “I will never stop!” to, “Ehh, what’s one more day without it?”

That’s why I believe a routine is the key to reaching any fitness goals.

But how do you create an effective routine that you can live with? Here are a few ideas that I’ve used in my own life to help ensure the longevity of my wellness journey.

  • Set Milestones, Not Goals

    Goals have their place, but not in fitness. Goals imply that there is an end, a point where you can stop and say, “I’m done”. The only point I know that means you can stop exercising is death, and I thought we were trying to postpone that with exercise to begin with.

    Milestones are more appropriate, but don’t base them around standard metrics like pounds or inches. Use self-esteem as your measurement. Milestones like, “In 3 months, I’ll feel better about my body when I look in the mirror” or “In 3 months, I’ll have a more defined stomach” are, in my opinion, much more effective.

  • Ignore the Scale

    Like I said, ignore your weight and leave the measuring tape for professional bodybuilders. When your goal is lifelong fitness, these don’t matter. More importantly, they lie!

    There are a number of factors that can influence your body weight or how your clothes feel. One of these is actually a good thing; your body is replacing fat with muscle! So why let your self-esteem suffer from inaccurate measurements?

    Far too often we use them to give us instant gratification that reassures us that we’re making progress. Like any addiction (I consider a sedentary lifestyle an addiction), it’s about making it one more day, not one more pound.

  • Be Patient

    How odd that I, who has almost no patience, suggest others have it. Irony aside, I’m right. Anything worth having takes time. Experts say it takes 21 days to develop a habit and 6 months for it to become a part of your life. If you rush or push yourself too far too fast you risk injury. This only further hinders your progress as you have to take time to recover.

    Give your routine the time it deserves to show you what it can really do.

  • Keep It Fun

    At the risk of overstating the obvious, here goes. Make your workout fun!

    Yes, this may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s simple. If you don’t like to run… don’t run! If you don’t like using weights… don’t use them! If your workout starts getting stale… you guessed it … make a new one!

    But hold on! I’m not suggesting you find the easiest exercise and stop there; but if it gets you started, than it’s a step in the right direction. You’ll find that as you see results from your routine, you’ll naturally increase its intensity. Improving your personal body image is one of the best forms of positive reinforcement.

  • Don’t Take Anyone’s Advice Unless You Ask for It!

    Anytime you talk to someone about exercising or losing weight, suddenly everyone becomes an expert (Yes, again, the irony is staggering, but stick with me here). You’ll hear their success stories, those of their family or about something they read in a magazine; but in the end, it’s all just opinion or personal preference.

    Find something that works for you. If you want help, ask for it, don’t have it force fed to you. There are workouts that can be more effective than others, but don’t get hung up on research about the “best” way to workout. Remember, this isn’t a race, you’ll get there. Don’t over think your routine, just do it!

  • Try to Exercise Everyday… Yes… Everyday!

    In the past, I would assign certain days as, “workout days”. What I found, however, is that my mood didn’t always coincide with my schedule. Some days, no matter how hard I tried, I was just too tired or too busy. If one of these days came after a “non-workout day”, I would feel guilty for breaking my routine and feel defeated. I’d be even more upset if I could have worked out the day before, but didn’t.

    Now I take a different approach.

    Instead of scheduling days, I try to workout everyday. I don’t really workout everyday, but depending on how I feel, I might exercise Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, take off Thursday and Friday, than work out Saturday. I let my mind and body dictate what days I workout, not the calendar.

    By structuring your routine this way, you begin conditioning yourself to become more active overall. You don’t wake up in the morning and worry, “I have to workout today, but how will I find the time with my son’s baseball game tonight?” Instead, you find your natural rhythm and free yourself from negative inner dialogue.

  • Be Your Own Support System

    Yes, statistics show that those who workout with a partner have a better chance of success. That’s never worked for me. To be honest, some of the people I worked out with were actually de-motivating. They would become less of a help and more of a distraction. They’d be late, always whining, always talking, or whatever they could think of to do besides workout. After a few bad experiences, I found that I don’t need someone to pat me on the back after a workout. I can get that on my own.

    It’s nice to have people notice the changes you’re making, but you should only decide to exercise if you’re doing it for yourself. By looking within for encouragement, you are never distracted or disappointed, and you increase your chances for success.

Are you ready to get started? The sooner you develop your routine, the sooner you can begin, and the sooner you can make this New Year’s resolution stick which should free up some time for you think up one for next year!

Happy New Year!

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3 Responses to “Make a Lifestyle Change, Not a Resolution”

  1. cherubin says:

    Brian is absolutely “on” with this one. Every”body” is different and needs to be tweaked in it’s own way. Advice from others may also leave one feeling less motivated as their own shortcomings are amplified by an others self proclaimed achievements. Remember, “just do it”.

    I think I read that somewhere…

  2. Brian says:

    Thanks for the compliment! Yeah… I think I heard “Just Do It” before too. ;-)

  3. Cassandra says:

    I can see your point about not paying attention to the scale. I get so frustrated when the scale doesn’t budge, even when I can see the changes in the mirror.

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