By Tracey Dowdy
So you got a Jawbone UP2 to track your overall fitness, a Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale to measure your body fat, a SITU Smart Food Scale to stick to that nutrition plan, and a new set of Sony MDR-AS600BT headphones so you can play Eye of the Tiger in a loop while you work out. Congratulations! You’re all set. Now what?
With the excitement leading up to the holidays, it often feels like a let-down to go back to our routines and actually have to put all those fitness goals into action.
These tips and tricks can help ensure that elliptical doesn’t turn into a rack to hang your dry cleaning, your yoga pants are actually worn for a yoga class and you make 2016 your healthiest year yet.
I am not a morning person and until “morning person” gets redefined as 10am-ish, I never will be. So, I pack my bag for work the night before, make my lunch, and set out whatever I’m wearing. It’s the only way I can be on time. You know when you’re sharpest – early morning, late at night, a little window around 2pm – so take advantage of that time to pack your gym bag with clothes, healthy snacks and whatever else you need. If you work out at home, schedule a time – and be specific. “I’ll work out this afternoon” usually turns into “What time is it? Oh no – I have to…” and that workout never happens. Set a reminder on your phone, program your goals into your devices, and away you go.
As a general rule, we are our own worst enemy. We develop bad habits and once-in-a-while “treats” become regular snacks. Snap out of it! You are the one in charge – make the change. Habits are hard to break but it’s not impossible.
Set reasonable goals
If you get winded walking to the fridge, signing up for a marathon a month or two from now isn’t the best plan. But maybe a 5K isn’t out of reach. Apps like Couch to 5K are great for beginners and will keep you from the “why do I even bother” frustration when you fall short of your goals.
Change your diet
I know, I know, I know. Cheese fries taste way better than kale but they’re also the reason cardiologists live in beautiful houses. Start small – a smoothie or whole grain cereal instead of bacon and eggs; a salad at lunch instead of a burger; broccoli instead of a baked potato with dinner. Again, small changes lead to big results over time and breaking those bad habits is the key to your success.
Choose an activity you like
I hate running. Like “you’re-going-to-want-to be-near-me-in the-zombie-apocalypse-because -you’ll-easily-out-run-me” hate running but I love yoga. Running makes me cranky, achy and miserable. After yoga, I feel better, stronger, calmer and more focused. It doesn’t matter what the benefits of running are, I’m not going to stick to it so yoga it is.
Get some sleep
Now there’s an idea we can all get behind. Turn off the TV, put down your phone, close your laptop…whatever you’re doing, stop. Quality sleep is a big part of reaching your fitness goals and without it you’ll never reach your potential. There are loads of sleep apps; I use Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson as I find that Scottish lilt and new age-y music relaxing. Choose the one that suits you and get some rest.
Get comfortable gear
That may sound obvious but if your footwear gives you blisters or your running tights chafe, it’ll be one more reason not to work out. Invest in good quality – it’s worth it.
Find an accountability partner
Sure your Fitbit will tell you how many steps you’ve taken and what your resting heart rate is, but will it ask you if you ate one of the doughnuts Mike left in the conference room? Probably not. Find someone who will not only keep you accountable but will encourage you and celebrate your little victories – like walking past those doughnuts.
Make a playlist
Choose the music that makes you move. Adele’s new album is amazing but not necessarily the soundtrack to a Zumba class or high intensity cardio workout. Find your groove, whether it’s cheesy 80’s hair bands, classic 90’s boy bands, old school hip hop, or all Rhianna, all the time.
Talk to your doctor
Last and most certainly not least, talk to your doctor. Get your annual physical and find out what – if any – health issues you need to be aware of and tailor your workout around the results.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.