Although I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, there’s no denying that come the last week of December 2016, #resolutions will be everywhere on social media. “Losing weight” and “staying fit” top the charts for the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Yet, very few people who make resolutions of any kind actually see them through to the end of the year. If one of your resolutions is getting fit or exercising more, here are some ways to stay motivated to keep that goal going all year-round.
1. Trash the “fool-proof” exercise program that you bought last year and never got into.
If you never got into it in the first place, you’re probably not really interested in it. And if an exercise program doesn’t excite you, it’s useless. No matter how effective a program is, if you don’t actually do the program, it’ll do nothing for you. And it’s perfectly OK to count your losses, trash that program, and start fresh with something new. If you do that, make sure that the something new is something you actually enjoy.
2. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy.
Experiment with different exercises, try new things, and find something that excites you enough to get out of bed earlier than usual and go do it before work (or before the kids wake up). Many businesses offer a free trial class (or even a whole month in some cases).
Take advantage of these and try things out before making a commitment. Once you find something you love and are excited about, you’re more likely to stick with it. For some people, signing up for a guided class is helpful. Knowing someone will be there waiting for you and will notice if you don’t show up can keep you accountable. The same is true if you find an exercise buddy who’s willing to join you on your workouts.
3. Fall in love with a sport.
Although I’m not a competitive person and playing professionally on a sports team is not a goal (at all), I do enjoy playing sports for fun.
I joined a sports club in my town, mostly to meet new friends and hang out with other adults on my own time. That’s more for fun. But I also once participated in sprint triathlons, and it was such a wonderful experience. I loved the atmosphere of these events, pushing my body, and having something to work towards.
It’s that “something to work towards” that kept me active after having my first baby. If you fall in love with a sport, you’ll need to choose an event, sign up for it, pay for it, and then you’ll need to train for it. Having signed up for an event and paid for it can be a great motivator to stay active – since you’ll need to train in order to do well at the event. Even if you don’t plan on winning, you’ll still want to do well and/or beat your next time.
4. Stop “exercising.”
For many people, exercise is a chore rather than a fun time. If that’s the case for you, the best way to stay motivated to exercise is to simply not exercise at all. Coming from a formal personal trainer, that may sound odd. But there’s a method to my madness.
If “going to the gym” or going for a run just isn’t your idea of fun, choose to be active instead, but without structured exercise. Depending on how active you choose to be, doing so could have you in better shape than many people who have a gym membership but never show up. Here are some ways to stay active without going to the gym:
- Choose active transportation: Use a bicycle, roller blades, a skateboard, or even a scooter to get to and from places. True story, my brother used to deliver the paper for a little more money when he was in his mid-20s. I gave him a scooter as a birthday gift and he delivered the paper using the scooter. It’s never too late to find a fun, active way to do things!
- If you choose to drive, take the scenic route (on foot): Park far away from where you’re going, and enjoy the sights as you walk to your destination. I know we’re all short on time, but you need to make time to take care of your body.
- Take the stairs: Pretend the elevator isn’t there, and always take the stairs (if you’re able). If your place of work has stairs, make a game out of it and time yourself to see how fast you can get to your floor each day.
- Dance like no one is watching: If you enjoy dancing, dance. Dance everywhere. At the grocery store. At work during standing breaks. At work during lunch. Wildly in your living room. Everywhere. With no set steps or moves, just you and your creativity. Live a little. Life’s too short to not dance when the mood strikes!
- Become a kid again: Play the kinds of active games you enjoyed as a child: tag, hide and seek, ring around the rosie, duck duck goose, racing against your friends, giving each other piggy-back rides. If you have kids, this shouldn’t be hard at all. If you don’t have kids, but you’re willing to put yourself out there, your friends may soon join you in your wild, carefree ways (I should know!)
- Enjoy nature. Are there conservation areas or a province/state or national park where you live? Go for a hike and enjoy the scenery. If allowed/encouraged, feed seeds to the birds. Enjoy the sights and sounds. Challenge yourself with a rugged route if you’re able.
- Think about other things you enjoy that involve being active. What other things do you enjoy doing that involve physical activity? Start making the time to do those things. Enjoy yourself. Have some fun.
Although having a structured exercise program is important if you have very specific goals, for most people, choosing to concentrate on an active lifestyle instead will have more long-lasting effects—because they’ll be more likely to stick with it.
How will you stay active in 2017?