5 Ways to Stay on the Fitness Wagon

Today we have a guest blog by Helen Sanders chief editor at HealthAmbition.com.  

I’m sure many of you have fallen off track while trying to reach your fitness goals, and feel discouraged with yourself, guilty and need some more motivation to get back out there.

The most common reasons for falling off track are life getting in the way, stress, tiredness and lack of time.  This used to happen to me all the time, so I’m going to share with you 5 ways I stopped falling off the wagon.

1. Make time to work out

To make a habit out of going to the gym, you have to make the time to actually go!  I have set times to go, such as every morning before work or every evening before dinner.  If you aren’t sectioning off part of your day, you won’t go.

A little advance planning goes a long way.  Consider bringing your gym clothes with you to work, bring some snacks so you won’t get hungry before your workout and always know what time you will be going to the gym the day before. The gym isn’t going to make time for you, you have to make time for the gym.

2. Have a Buddy

It’s always easier to stick to a fitness plan when you have someone else keeping you accountable.  Find a friend or a co-worker and set gym “dates”.  Try to pick one activity you like to do, one activity your friend likes to do and one activity that you both enjoy.

It could be something like going to a spin class every Tuesday at 8 o’clock then weight training 3 times a week before work and going to yoga every Sunday morning.  This way you can learn different exercises that you wouldn’t have necessarily tried on your own before, because it’s always less intimidating when you have someone you know teaching you.

By doing a variety of different workouts such as yoga, strength and cardio, you’ll be training different parts of your body and you’ll start seeing how the different components come together. The strength training will build muscle, the stretching will help relax the muscles and the cardio will keep you lean.  Then before you know it you’ve already managed to fit in 5 workouts that week and it didn’t even feel like a chore!

3. Set Goals

I find what works best for me is not setting goals based on aesthetic.  Meaning, don’t base your fitness goals around how many pounds you want to lose, or that you want thinner thighs.  It’s far too easy to feel discouraged when you don’t see results quickly.  On the other side, you can become too obsessed with your goals and go overboard.

Base your aims around your strength, frequency of your workouts or endurance.  For example, if you are doing squats, set a goal based around either the weight of the squats or the number of repetitions you want to achieve.  So if you start squatting 20 kg, you can set a goal of increasing the weight each week by 2.5 kg, then in one month you will be squatting 30 kg.

It’s important to set attainable and focused goals, rather than broad goals such as “I want to lose weight”.  When you make it a competition with yourself about getting stronger or building your endurance, it will be more fun and you’ll be more likely to make a habit out of going to the gym.

4. Make Time for a Break

Before I knew better, I would work out every day for a few weeks, then stop working out all together for a month.  It was a vicious cycle of broken workouts which ultimately did not lead to any results.

If you always plan “rest days” you will not only be more likely to stick to your workouts, but you also will avoid feeling “guilty” for taking a day or two off each week.  Rest days are important to let your body heal its muscles and avoid injuries.

It’s comforting to give yourself limits.  If you work out Monday-Wednesday and then give yourself Thursday and Saturday off, you’ll know that you’ll be back in the gym on Sunday and ready for another workout.  I always recommend working out on Sundays because it prepares you for a Monday workout, since that is usually a tough day for a lot of people.  So take a break, you deserve it!

 5. Know Why You Are Working Out

It’s important to remember why you started working out.  Again, it’s probably better if you steer this reason away from aesthetics.  Focus on the fact that you wanted to get stronger, build endurance or overall just take care of yourself.  Keeping active has so many positive impacts on your body such as cardiovascular health, bone health, longevity,  keeping your body feeling young and keeping you strong while you age.

If you are doing workouts that you enjoy, then you’ll have more fun working out and will have an easier time remembering why you started.  If you know that you feel a lot better after a workout, keep that in mind every time you say you don’t want to go to the gym.  Just always remember that your biggest competition is yourself and you’re not working out for anyone else except you.  The moment you start comparing yourself to others you can easily forget why you started.

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.

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