Every year, after the holiday chaos of shopping, parties, and family gatherings, we find ourselves out of a healthy routine and wondering “How I am going to get myself back into shape?” Follow these five strategies to help yourself successfully create a lifelong habit of prioritizing your health.
- Mind over Matter: Your attitude about your health is everything. Exercise directly contributes to improved moods, increased energy levels, reduced stress, higher quality of sleep, lower body fat, increased metabolism, increased bone mass, and reduced risk of many acute and chronic illnesses. A healthy exercise routine will yield more time and energy to spend with those you love, more joy in your activities, and an overall improved quality of life. Think of exercise as your free ticket to a better life and remember EVERYONE WANTS TO FEEL BETTER.
- 1st Strategy: Focus on your motivation. Why do you want to feel better? Who and what do you love? Make your mindset align with your goal. Consider your long term quality of life.
- Take Responsibility: In order to create a sustainable habit you must take responsibility for creating space in your life for it. Where can you fit in your commitment to your health? Make it convenient. Are you a morning person or an evening person? Can you stop by a health-club on your way to work or afterwards? Do you need childcare? Can you afford to take 15 minutes from watching television to go on a walk? Take the time to look at your weekly schedule and try to find three times a week where you can devote 15-30 minutes to yourself. This is where you start. Do not wait for the time to prioritize your health. Prioritize it NOW.
- 2nd Strategy: Look at your schedule and determine where you can create time to devote to your health. Is it as practical and convenient as possible? Find three times a week you can commit to at least 15 minutes for yourself.
- Be Patient: Creating a habit takes time. Do not attempt to do too much too fast. It is better to walk 15 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks than to exercise for a full hour four times a week before quitting. You can always add to your commitment as you begin to have more energy but the important thing is that you begin with a goal that is practical, achievable, and sustainable. Give yourself eight weeks to feel comfortable in your routine and twelve weeks to expect noticeable results.
- 3rd Strategy: Start slow with an achievable goal and allow yourself time to adapt. Expect eight weeks to solidify a habit and twelve weeks for results.
- Personalize your Plan: There are thousands of options for exercise and exercise routines are as unique as you are. Begin with a commitment to something you feel familiar with (even if it is just a walking plan) and as you progress, try new things. Consider learning a new skill, trying a new sport, or attending a new fitness class. You never know what you may discover! The Louisville Athletic Club offers a free week trial to visitors and you can bring a friend to try a class or visit the facility free of charge. There are a variety of group fitness classes, personal trainers, and even a movie theater to watch movies while you do cardio. From yoga to weightlifting, there is something for everyone at your local health-club. Over time, by experimenting, you will naturally develop a plan that fits your personality and lifestyle.
- 4th Strategy: Start with an activity you can do effectively and experiment with your routine over time. Consider attending a health-club or seeking the advice of a personal trainer to discover new exercise options.
- Be Accountable: Accountability is the key to sustainability. You will need to find a way to be accountable to stay on track when your motivation wanes, to track your progress, and to celebrate victories small and large. You can find a friend to be your partner in success, keep a fitness journal, check in on Facebook or Instagram, or keep a calendar on your wall to log successes. If you are sick, or have something knock you off of schedule, simply pick back up where you left off. Face forward with your goals. It is never too late to make a good decision, every good decision is a success and should be acknowledged.
- 5th Strategy: Track your progress to keep yourself accountable. Do not be discouraged if you miss a day, acknowledge the days you’ve succeeded and focus on your healthier future.
Follow these simple strategies and we are sure you will be enjoying a healthier life before spring.
As with all fitness routines, consult a physician for any advice regarding changes to your health care plan.
Written by: Stephanie VonTrapp for Louisville Athletic Club 2020