Make a short list
You can't reach goals unless you set them — but you won't reach your fitness goals if you set too many or make them too vague. It's wiser to make a list of three to five fitness goals instead of a long impractical list or one unspecific goal, such as "work out more." A short list will make your fitness resolutions less overwhelming and more achievable.
Here's an example of a short list of fitness resolutions:
- Do 20 minutes of cardio three days a week (you can even specify the days to make you more accountable).
- Take the kettlebell class at the gym on Mondays and Thursdays (insert any class here).
- Try one new workout every two weeks (this can be a new fitness class, a fitness DVD or a session with a personal trainer).
Know your limits, but don't be limited
Reach for your dreams, but don't set the bar so high that you crash and burn. At the beginning of the year, you are super-amped to set goals and meet them, but your enthusiasm might wane once you encounter limitations caused by work, family, illness or fitness level. Instead of making a fitness resolution to run a marathon by spring, work your way up a big accomplishment. For example, make a fitness goal to run a 5K; once you do, make another fitness goal to run a 10K. Then, shoot for a half-marathon and then, a marathon. You may not run a marathon by spring, but you will be training for longer-distance events and meeting fitness goals along the way, which is key to staying motivated.
Exercise and enjoy it
Don't resolve to join the Zumba team if you hate dancing. Just because a workout is the new rage does not mean you must labor through it if you hate it. Determine the activities you like doing and make fitness resolutions to get more of them. Do try new workouts — we recommend once a week — to add variety to your routine, but if you know a certain mode of exercise isn't for you, don't force it. The more enjoyable your physical activities, the more likely you'll do them.
In a perfect world, you'd make an exercise schedule, and nothing would get in the way of your daily workout. We don't live in a perfect world, though, so prepare for scheduling snafus, whether it's your boss calling a lunch meeting that keeps you from your noontime boot camp class, or you sleeping through your 6 a.m. alarm and having no time to run before taking your kids to school. Always have a backup workout plan, and don't stress about it. Fitness DVDs are the perfect substitute for class workouts, and they can be done whenever your schedule allows. Another option is to simply take a powerwalk when you get a break in your day and commit to getting back on your planned week of workouts. Being flexible will keep you from giving up and feeling like a fitness failure.
Plan for your workouts
Pull out your smartphone and put your workouts on your calendar. Being able to see them every week keeps you accountable. Consider it an exercise to-do list; you know how good it feels to check things off a list. In addition to scheduling your workouts, make it easy to do them. Lay your fitness attire out the night before your workout, set an alarm if you're doing early-morning exercise, and pack your gym bag with a bottle of water, nutrition bar, towel and anything else you'll need before and after you sweat.
Dress the part
Think about it: Are you going to be more motivated to go to the gym clad in your baggy sweats or in cute leggings and a tank top? Buy one or two flattering fitness outfits that you can mix and match. You'll feel better about yourself — and when you look in the mirror while you sweat, you'll know you look better, too.
More health tips for the new year
Eat all 5 food groups daily in 2012
Bump up your workout routine
5 Steps to make your fitness resolutions stick