How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution to get back in shape? More than once, right? We’ve all been there! What if this year your resolution was never having to get back in shape again? And, instead of continuously falling out of shape, you chose to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay fit?
“Sure! But how?” I hear you ask. By doing the following:
Change your approach
Because the goal is to stay fit in the long run instead of yo-yo dieting and getting mixed results, you need to change your approach.
First, don’t set off like a chicken without its head by jumping on the first "miraculous" solution you find. Second, don’t set a deadline, such as a wedding or a trip, to mark the end of your efforts
This year, try a more fluid approach, one that you’ll continue to integrate into your everyday life. The goal isn’t to burn the calories you’ve consumed over the holidays as quickly as possible, but to maintain your healthy lifestyle habits for as long as possible… hopefully for the rest of your life! Aim for consistency instead of focusing on intensity and instant results.
Find your daily motivators
We’re used to setting external goals that are more or less far off in the future. Losing X number of pounds before the summer, for instance. The problem with this kind of goal is that it’s intangible and set in the distant future. On the other hand, if you have daily goals, you’ll be motivated to keep going and you’ll be able to see the immediate impact on your mood! In fact, intrinsic and instant motivation (feeling good today) will help you maintain healthy lifestyle habits much more than extrinsic and future goals (such as losing weight within 6 months).1 2
You need to identify the instant rewards that come with the healthy actions you want to take.
Ask yourself the following questions: How do I feel…
- After I go for a walk/jog outside?
- After a healthy meal?
- After a good night’s rest or a period of relaxation?
Proud? Energized? Zen? In a good mood? That’s how you want to feel every day, right?
Your daily motivation could be something along these lines: “I take a walk every day at lunch because it gives me the energy I need to finish the day on a positive note!” Every day at noon you’ll know why you go for a walk and you’ll know how it directly benefits you.
Start small, but start today
When you’re trying to get back in shape, it’s tempting to want to change all your habits at once. But think of it this way, the more balls you juggle, the more you increase the odds of dropping one. Plus, too much change might make you want to put off your plans. By focusing on small actions that you can integrate into your life one at a time, your goal will seem more attainable and the changes you make are more likely to be permanent.
To see the kinds of small actions you can start taking now, I recommend checking out Brunet’s Active Health Challenge. You’ll find numerous challenges that are realistic and attainable. Try to limit yourself to one challenge per week and wait until you’ve integrated this new habit into your daily life before taking on a second challenge. By creating a profile, you’ll be able to pin your challenges to a dashboard and see your progress. If you don’t know were to begin, start by answering the Active Health questionnaire and you’ll get challenges tailored to your needs.
Here are the two first challenges I’ve decided to take on!
In short, being active and healthy can greatly improve the quality of your life not only in three months when you’ve lost X pounds but every day. Here are 8 facts that prove this is true. This year, make the resolution to never have to get back in shape and to maintain your health every day.
1Buckworth, Janet, Rebecca E. Lee, Gail Regan, Lori K. Schneider, and Carlo C. Diclemente. "Decomposing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation for Exercise: Application to Stages of Motivational Readiness." Psychology of Sport and Exercise 8.4 (2007): 441-61. Web.
2Evans, M. Blair, Lisa M. Cooke, Robyn A. Murray, and Anne E. Wilson. "The Sooner, the Better: Exercise Outcome Proximity and Intrinsic Motivation." Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being 6.3 (2014): 347-61. Web.