We are just over a month into 2015, so how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Many of us take a good look at ourselves at the end of each year and decide to embark on an overly optimistic exercise plan for the New Year with good intentions of losing weight and improving our health and fitness. Perhaps we even set goals such as getting in shape for the summer and looking good on the beach.
We have all seen how busy the fitness centers are in January. It can be hard to get on our preferred cardio machine or get a spot in our favorite workout class. Like all New Year’s resolutions, the exercise resolution often starts well. We get up early every morning for a run or we make it to the gym every evening after work. We may even add a workout in during the weekend! And, we feel good. Not just physically (we know exercise can boost our energy levels), but also emotionally and mentally, partly because we did what we committed to do. We feel we accomplished something and we are on track with our plan for the New Year!
And then something happens about a month later. The fitness center parking lot appears half-empty and we can park much closer to the entrance (even though we know we shouldn’t). There are cardio machines to spare and there is no line for our favorite workout class. What happened?
Well, the motivation and commitment we had on New Year’s Day has eroded. It’s February. It’s cold outside and we don’t want to get up for an early morning run anymore when we can just stay warm in bed. But that’s ok (we rationalize) because we can go to the gym after work and run on the treadmill. However, after a tough day at work we may decide we should go straight home instead. We may have loved ones waiting for us, right (we continue to rationalize)? And besides, the summer is a long way, away, so we have plenty of time to work on our “beach body.” Sound familiar?
The bottom line is that exercise needs to be performed on a regular and consistent basis to achieve the full health and fitness benefits. However, you don’t have to do much to get results. Just 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (equivalent to jogging) each week meets the minimum physical activity guidelines. Furthermore, these 75 minutes can be divided into small chunks of time (e.g. 10 minutes) and doing some exercise is better than nothing.
Here’s my plan to stay motivated:
- Start with Purpose – Find a compelling reason to exercise and remind yourself daily. It can be a powerful source of sustained motivation. For example, I exercise to have the energy I need to be the best father to my infant son (and to be able to run 5K with him when he’s old enough). This is much more effective for me than exercising for bigger biceps!
- Face the Truth – Be realistic with your exercise plan and don’t try and do too much, too soon. For example, don’t commit to the gym every night if you have not exercised for a while. Start with small, manageable amounts of exercise and progress gradually over time.
- Take Action – Choose exercise options that are simple and accessible to you and don’t make working out harder than it needs to be. This is why I like body weight workouts, just like those on our Johnson & Johnson OFFICIAL 7 Minute Workout App. There are more than 20 different simple, fast workouts for beginners to advanced exercisers that require no special equipment, just your own body weight and can be performed by almost anyone, anywhere, anytime.
We have just passed the weekend where the biggest football game in America was played. It’s one of the unhealthiest weekends of the year for people and we are rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day with the usual surge in chocolate sales. So remember: “Purpose, Truth, Action.” Stay motivated for an active and healthy 2015.