It’s that time of year again — time to make resolutions for the new year! If you’re like most people, losing weight and getting in shape are at the top of your wish list.
We all start out our new year’s resolutions with the best intentions. But inevitably, a few weeks into the new year the gyms start emptying out as people revert to their old habits.
Are you serious about finally losing weight and getting in shape this year? Are you tired of working hard and losing, only to gain it back? So was I.
Last October marked my seventh anniversary of starting working out. It’s major for me — prior to this I’ve never been able to keep up a workout routine for one year, let alone five. Oh, I started many, many times. Sometimes even kept it up for a while. But this is my first long-term success. I’ve lost 60 pounds, and kept it off. But more importantly than that, I gained better health and self-esteem. Compared to how I felt before, I feel like a million bucks!
Seven years ago when I started, I never told anyone. With my track record I had no expectation of success and didn’t want to announce I was starting something just to once again fail. A fit body seemed like an impossible dream. But to my surprise, this time was different — I did succeed.
Looking back, I realize I’ve learned a few key things this time around that made all the difference. Here they are, my top five tips for workout success.
1. It’s OK to start small.
So often we think if we begin a fitness routine, it has to be the entire 1-hour workout video or nothing. P90X or nothing. Five times a week at the gym or nothing. And so on. If you can do that, by all means have at it! But what worked for me was giving up that all-or-nothing notion, which I’d had my whole teen and adult life, and instead starting small and keeping it doable. I started with 15 minutes a day walking on the treadmill. 15 minutes for me was doable. I couldn’t make excuses about not being able to do it because I knew darn well that I could. Each week I added one or two daily minutes to my time. As my fitness level improved, gradually I increased speed as well as time. Now my regular workout is an hour, but I took many months to work up to that.
One minute or two: Now that’s small! But it worked. Once I got to 30 minutes, the weight started dropping off. By then I’d been at it a few months. Had I started off doing 45 minutes or an hour, I can tell you from past experience I wouldn’t have stuck with it.
2. Schedule it.
The reason I work out in the morning is not because I’m a morning person, believe me. I am sooo NOT a morning person. I work out in the early morning because that’s the time that works best for my schedule. I get it out of the way and it’s done. Otherwise, I’d put it off or be too tired or make other excuses. That’s just how I am with that. On weekends when I don’t have a time pressure, I still work out but it’s so easy to put it off. Monday through Friday morning is a time crunch to get done and get to work on time, and that keeps me on track.
Set a regular time that works best for you, and stick to it. Make working out a normal, scheduled part of your day just like having lunch or going to work. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial that has been to my success.
3. Forget the scale.
That’s a radical idea, and goes against everything we’re told, I know. But making it solely “about the scale” is precisely what kept me fat and failing at all my previous attempts at weight loss. You work your butt off, the scale doesn’t move, and you get discouraged and end up sabotaging yourself.
When I started the treadmill every day, I didn’t lose any weight for the first six weeks. Think about that. Working hard, day in and day out, no change on the scale. After a while, I reached a decision point: Do I keep going? I’m not losing weight. So why didn’t I give up right then, like I had every other time in the past? Because I realized I’d started feeling so much better. My legs were getting stronger. I didn’t feel stiff and sore when I got up from my desk like I used to. I had more energy, was more cheerful even. I was truly feeling better, physically and emotionally. So I said, heck with it, if I don’t lose pounds then so be it…but I feel better and I’m not giving up. I didn’t want to go back to feeling sick and tired all the time.
It was when I made exercise about my health and feeling good, instead of the scale, that everything finally clicked for me. And amazingly, that is also when I finally, finally started losing weight!
4. Keep it fun.
After my first year, my routine was going well and since it was the only thing that had worked for me long-term, I was hesitant to change it up. But let’s face it, doing the same thing eventually gets boring. So I decided to keep doing treadmill, but add in some variety. Walking outside on weekends. Going to parks. Scaling the walking back a few days a week and doing 30 minutes of a video instead. Adding in some dance classes for fun. I found that I actually looked forward to my Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for doing something different. Not only did these changes make exercise more interesting, it gave me a more well-rounded level of fitness. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Inject some variety.
5. Be persistent.
No excuses! If you’re tired, do it anyway. If you’re running late, do it anyway. Do less that day if you have to, but do something. Even if you failed a hundred times before, do it anyway. Find your own doable thing and don’t overthink it, don’t make it harder than it is, just do it and get it done.
Believe in yourself. 15 minutes! You can do this! You deserve to feel great. You deserve success, and it’s within your reach. Don’t settle for less.
©Michelle Rogers, Inc.