I’d like to welcome Christina Anderson to Run Salt Run today! She has some great tips that can be used by people of really any fitness level that can help you reach your goals.
Thank you, Christina!
You’ve been thinking about changing your lifestyle habits to improve your fitness for a long time now, and summer is a great time to get started. The weather is warmer, you have more time off, and the days are longer. But even so, meeting fitness goals is a definite challenge and it can be hard to keep from getting discouraged. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the right foot and stay on track throughout the summer.
Set Realistic Goals
If you’ve set yourself completely unfeasible goals, it’s going to be much easier to get discouraged as, week after week, you feel like you’re not getting any closer to your goal. It’s fine if your ultimate vision is to be totally fit, but you need to recognize that achieving that kind of standard is going to require some significant lifestyle changes. So instead of overwhelming yourself and flagging out right away, start by considering your actual health situation. What is your greatest health problem now? Are you overweight? Do you have aches and pains resulting from not getting enough exercise? Are you a healthy weight, but not very fit?
Next, consider where you would like to be by the end of the summer and then think about what it would actually take to achieve that goal. Do you want to ultimately lose twenty pounds? If so, how much would that mean losing every week? Is that something you can do by the end of the summer? What if you only lose ten pounds by the end of the summer?
Consider how much your schedule allows for you to incorporate changes. Do you have time to start cooking dinner every night instead of eating out? If not, what are some other ways that you can make eating right a part of your daily schedule? How often can you go to the gym?
Make a Plan
Once you’ve considered a realistic picture of your situation, start making a plan for how you can gradually start to make fitness a real part of your day and week. After all, the only way to make a real and lasting change in your personal fitness is to ensure that you are practicing sustainable behaviors that you will be able to maintain after you’ve achieved your initial fitness goals. You should you’re your health an ongoing priority in your life. Depending on your starting fitness level, you may want to start slowly and ease into it. A great way to start would be to take long walks every day – a bonus of this is getting some vitamin D in your system and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. You should get yourself a pedometer, like a Fitbit, that can track your steps and also set goals for you.
Figure out what time of day you would like to exercise and find a way to stick to it. If you aren’t sure what time of day you prefer, try out a few options to see what you like best. Some people, for example, like to exercise first thing in the morning to get their day started, while other people don’t like to get up early and prefer to exercise after work or school. Figure out which of these options will be most sustainable for you and then make a habit of it.
You will also need to figure out what kind of exercise works for you. For some people (like me!), running provides a great “runner’s high,” while for other people it puts too much strain on their knees or ankles. Try out lots of options to see what kind of activity you like best. For example, you may find that you do better by doing a sport regularly like playing basketball or riding your bike than you do at the gym. Embrace these things about yourself! If you’re forcing yourself to follow a routine you hate, it’s going to make it harder to stick to it. Because of the nicer weather, you may want to try swimming for exercise. It’s low impact on the joints while still giving you a great whole-body workout. Contact your local YMCA, and sign up for a membership.
And of course, you also need to be addressing your diet while you are trying to improve your fitness. Be wary of fad diets! As everyone knows, the only way to really achieve a sustainably healthy lifestyle is to eat right and exercise.
If you find that you are struggling to get started with a diet and exercise routine, don’t be afraid to consult a coach, an expert, a dietician, etc. If you are not accustomed to practicing healthy lifestyle habits, you may discover that you have been believing health myths or following practices that aren’t right for you and your body.
Making Your Plan Sustainable
While you’re trying to meet your summer fitness goals, don’t forget that it is, of course, summer! You need to be allowing yourself to have some fun and take some time just for you! Once you feel like you’ve made exercise and diet a regular part of your week, you can start adding in a few rewards to make your plan easier to follow. For example, if you’re exercising several, times a week, it’s okay to take a day or two off from your normal routine while you go on vacation. If you’re following a strict diet, it’s okay to allow yourself some rewards on the weekend. Just make sure they are small things, like a few chocolate berries and not a huge slice of cake!
Get in Tune With Yourself
While you’re striving for a new, healthier you, be sure you are checking in with yourself regularly to make sure you are pursuing a routine that really reflects who you want to be. It’s fine if you’ve started working out because of a break-up or some other trigger, but you need to be sustaining this plan not just because of these triggers, but because it matches the personal goals you have for yourself for becoming a better person. Remember, consistency is key! Don’t throw away all of your hard work for a temporary fix. Keep up with your new summer routine year-round, and you’ll find that the positive effects will bleed into all other factors of your life.