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It’s the perfect time for new beginnings and a fresh start.

As with each new year, many people have resolved to get fit, lose weight, and improve their overall health. For some, this isn’t the first time. For many, it is an ongoing challenge.

This year, you may have made some health-related resolutions for yourself and perhaps your enthusiasm or efforts have already begun to lose steam. If this is the case, let this be the month to get back on track. This can be your year to finally get fit!

Here are a few tips to get you off to a great start and keep you on path:

Set realistic goals

People often lose motivation when they take on too much too soon. In addition, this can also lead to injury or fatigue. Give yourself adequate time to incorporate healthier habits into your lifestyle. Choose a goal that is reasonable and then give yourself time to work up to it.

For example, your goal could be to exercise three days a week for 45 minutes. Start with one day a week for 20 to 30 minutes and work your way up to 45 minutes by adding 5 or 10 minutes each week. After a few weeks, add a second and then third day. If you’ve previously attempted a workout program that was unsuccessful, think about what went well and what didn’t. Learn from this experience to improve your chances of success.

Focus on one thing at a time

If you’ve typically followed an all or nothing pattern when it comes to healthy habits and would like to change this trend, try working on one new habit at a time.  This will allow you to develop healthy behaviors that are sustainable in the long term.  Plus it will keep you from feeling worn out and overworked.

Focusing on only one new healthy habit also helps keep you from getting demotivated. Changing your diet and starting a new fitness regime at the same time can be too much. If you first focus on improving your fitness, you will likely begin to sleep better and pay more attention to what you eat without any effort. Once you’ve established a consistent fitness routine, you could focus on making small healthful changes to your diet and other areas of your life.

Find support

Gather some support to help keep you on path. Recruit a friend, join a group, hire a coach, or ask your family to regularly cheer you on. Commit to your new routine and let others know about it. Working with others toward a common goal can greatly increase your enjoyment, keeping you motivated.  Plus, by building strong support, you establish accountability and increase your chances of success.

Book your “Run Time”

If you want to get it done, numerous studies show that you’ll greatly increase your chances if you schedule it in your weekly planner.  Pick a day and time that you can manage, then book it in advance.  This will allow you to better schedule time for your runs and to organize other activities around your important “Run Time.” Plus, each time you check your diary it will remind you that running has a place in your life.

Develop a strategy to keep you on path

Figure out what gets you off track and devise a plan to beat it!  Take a moment to write down what challenges you might have and then brainstorm some creative ideas that could help get over those humps.

For example, if you have trouble getting up and out the door for a 6:00 am run, set your alarm in another room so it forces you to get up.  Set your running clothes out on your run day as a reminder or wear your clothes to bed.  And keep your running shoes by the door.

If you have trouble with evening runs because you’re too tired from work or are easily tempted by invitations to go out, try switching your run to midday or morning.  Or arrange to finish work early to get your run in at an earlier time.

Some other ideas might include:

  • If you have trouble getting organized and out the door, pack your gym bag the night before and hang it on your door or prepare a meal in advance so it’s ready to go before or after a run.
  • If you have trouble finding the time, take your running clothes (and tram or bus) to work and run home or take a bag of clothes to work the day before and then run there and change when you arrive.
  • If you can easily talk yourself out of running, recruit a friend to run with you to keep you accountable.
  • If you have trouble following through on your  fitness commitments, try signing up for a running event in advance and raise money for charity.  Training for an event is a good occasion to run for a charity and it will help power you through.

Stay positive when setbacks arise

Once you’ve made a reasonable plan and gathered support, remember, incorporating a new running routine into your lifestyle takes time. If you get off track, that’s okay. Forgive yourself and quickly get back on. If you encounter a setback, stay positive. Don’t let it be your downfall. Think about what went wrong and how you can do things differently next time to keep on path.

Reward yourself for your effort and progress

If you started out running 15 minutes once a week and now you’re consistently running 25, bravo! That’s improvement! That may not be your end goal, but that’s progress that merits recognition. Acknowledge your progress along the way and it will help keep you motivated. Or try using a running app such as Runkeeper or a GPS watch to track your runs and get recognized for your milestones.

Do you have a great tip to help others stay motivated?  We’d love to hear about it!  Please share with us in the comments below.

Laurie

Laurie is an endurance athlete, a professional running coach & lifestyle coach, and the founder of House of Running. She helps people make running part of their healthy lifestyle through on-on-one coaching and fun group training programs. Read more about Laurie here.

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