Starting a fitness regimen is exciting, but it can also be stressful, and if you’re new to the fitness world, intimidating. Every year, millions of people attempt to “get serious” about their health and fitness, but end up failing for a variety of reasons; that’s because starting a program isn’t especially difficult, but keeping to it is a serious challenge.
Conventional advice about how to stick with a fitness plan can be helpful, but if this is your second or third time starting up, you’ve heard all that advice before. In this article, we’re going to dive a bit deeper and offer some overlooked tips that can help you make an effective fitness plan and stick with it.
How to Make a Plan and Stick to It
When you’re preparing for a new fitness regimen, or you’re in the middle of one currently, use these tips to adhere to your plan more consistently:
- Start slow. Most people want to ride their enthusiasm for as far as it will take them, doing as many intense workouts as possible during a short period. However, it’s better if you start slow, gradually incorporating new workouts into your routine and being careful not to push yourself too hard. If you burn out too early, you won’t want to continue, and if you work out too hard before your body is ready, you could end up injuring yourself.
- Avoid the numbers. Newcomers to the world of fitness often focus on the numbers. They want to see their weight drop, see their lifts increase, or see their running times decrease. These can be beneficial metrics to track your progress, but newcomers shouldn’t focus on them exclusively. If your motivation depends on these numbers (which can sometimes be misleading), you’ll instantly lose motivation and enthusiasm when you see a reversal, or even a temporary plateau.
- Understand the effects of nutrition. Regardless of why you’re starting a fitness program—whether it’s to lose weight, build muscle, or reduce your risk for certain health problems—you need to understand how nutrition will impact your performance and your results. That understanding goes far beyond a basic meal plan; you’ll need to get enough food to fuel your workouts, but eat a caloric deficit if you want to lose weight. On top of that, you’ll need to get enough carbohydrates to give you energy, and enough protein to recover. Get the wrong nutrition, and you won’t get the results you want.
- Work out with someone fitter than you. If you’re shy about going to the gym or embarrassed about your current fitness level, you’ll be motivated to work out with someone at your level. This can be motivating in the short term, but it’s actually better if you work out with someone fitter than you are. They’ll be able to provide more guidance, help you break through your plateaus, and most importantly, provide consistent motivation without dropping off.
- Do new things as often as possible. Some people end up quitting their fitness regimens because they’re bored or because they’ve reached a plateau, having gone as far as they wanted or expected. To prevent this apathy from setting in, try to do new things as often as possible. This could mean experimenting with new equipment, varying your pace, changing up your schedule, or even working out with new people in new environments. Changes keep your experience and your motivation fresh.
- Get some level of activity every day. If your ultimate goal is leading a healthier lifestyle, you’ll want to get at least some level of activity every day, even if it’s just a walk, and even if it breaks from your stated routine. Obviously, there are direct benefits to this; every bit of activity you get is going to burn calories and improve your fitness. But more importantly, making fitness a daily habit is going to make it easier to stick to that habit.
Finding Your Own Way
These tips should be able to help the majority of people, but it’s also important to realize that no two people are going to succeed the same way. Every individual will have different preferences, different needs, and different experiences that necessitate a wholly different approach. Be prepared to experiment, and don’t be surprised if the game-changing tip that helped someone else has minimal impact on you and your fitness routine.