Are you one of those that make a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier and start exercising, only to lose interest in your fitness goals by February? If so, you are not alone. The problem is that we all know we should eat better and exercise more, but the hustle and bustle of life interferes and we tend to let it go by the wayside. The good intention is there but just knowing something or being told by the doctor is not enough to get the motivation going. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week with activities like brisk walking, biking, jogging, or swimming, and strength-training sessions 2-3 times a week. (You should of course check with your health care practitioner before undertaking an exercise program especially if you have any specific health conditions.) Studies have shown that people need more information on actually how to fit exercise into their busy schedules instead of just the general advice that they should exercise more or that exercise is good for their health.
The type of exercise is not as important as being sure you are just doing it and doing it consistently. This is where the difficulty comes in for many people. Juggling work, family life, friends, community commitments and all the other things we do on a daily basis makes it easy to put off exercising and ignore our fitness goals. Here are some tips on how to make this year different and help achieve your fitness goals by working exercise into your everyday life.
Making a Fitness Plan
First while you are all fired up about your New Year’s resolution, make a plan. Actually write down on paper a fitness goal plan with specific milestones that you can measure. Make those goals things that are achievable. Set it up in small steps so you can see your progress and reward yourself for each step you accomplish. Find the resources you need to be able to do the steps. Here’s an example:
Goal: I will walk 2 miles a day.
Step 1: I will walk ¼ mile a day.
Plan: I will park in a parking space across the parking lot from the building I am going into each time I drive someplace (ie. – work, store…)
Resources: Pedometer or cellphone app to measure my walking distance everyday.
Reward: Afternoon treat of a cup of fat free frozen yogurt.
Step 2: I will walk ½ mile a day.
Plan: Continue parking far away and add I will get up from my desk at work 3 times a day and walk around the block.
Resources: An alarm on cellphone or clock that can be set for 3 specific times as a reminder it’s time to walk.
Reward: Get a pedicure and facial at the neighborhood day spa. And so on, you get the idea.
Plan to Keep Motivation Momentum
For some activities you may need to schedule them in just like you would a doctor’s appointment or a meeting. If your fitness goal is a priority for you then isn’t meeting your fitness goal and improving your health just as important as any other appointment or meeting you have on your calendar? Some people may find it helpful to keep a running log of their accomplishments. Seeing small daily improvements may motivate them to keep going. Others will find this to be just one more task to keep up with and not find it helpful. When you are making your plan though, consider those things that in the past have interfered with your exercising and make a contingency plan. For example, if you go to an exercise class or exercise at a gym and have to cancel to stay home with a sick child. You know this situation may occur, so write into your plan what you can do that will replace this activity. Maybe in this case you will find an exercise program on the television or internet and do that workout instead.
Some people also find getting a fitness partner helpful in keeping on task. Two people with similar fitness goals can help keep each other motivated and make them both more accountable for showing up for the scheduled exercise. Be creative and think about ways you can add in extra time doing physical activity around your environment and situation. I work at my desk at the computer for most of my work day. I have sticky notes with various exercises I have found through the internet and want to do each day stuck on a board in front of me. I find that if I set my cellphone alarm for every hour of the day, pick one of the sticky notes to do and then return to work, I get in a lot of exercises and feel better at the end of the day. Before I started this program, I would be stiff and drooping by the end of the day just sitting at a desk for several hours.
The Convenience Factor
Another thing to consider in your fitness goal plan is making your steps convenient. Don’t set yourself up for activities that you know are going to be hard to accomplish. For example, don’t set up going to an exercises class during your lunch break that is on the other side of town. You know something will come up at work that will make it impossible to get away on time and that you will end up skipping the class. Once you skip it one time it is easier to continue skipping class when it is not convenient. Instead look for activities that you can easily do within your time frames and situations like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, walking to your friends house instead of driving, walking your children to and from school instead of driving them in the car.
Healthy Eating for Exercise Support
Now that you have the exercise part of your fitness plan down, it’s time to consider the healthy eating part. You need to fuel your body with the right nutrition to help you stick to your fitness plan. Add vitamin and mineral-dense foods to your diet. Drink plenty of water, especially during the winter. Antioxidants will also keep your body limber and flexible which makes exercising easier. Foods rich in antioxidants include berries, garlic, carrots, soy, and whole grains. If you can’t get antioxidants on a regular basis in your diet, you can take pill-based supplements such vitamins E, C, and A (in the form of beta-carotene). Blue-green algae and spirulina also offer strong natural sources of antioxidant nutrition.
Here are some other food sources that will support the exercise portion of your fitness plan:
- Add plant based foods to your diet that have antioxidant and phytochemicals. These may decrease COX-2 enzyme activity and reduce joint inflammation. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, teas and yes, even chocolate fall into this category.
- Increase foods containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna.
- ASU, Chondroitin, and Glucosamine are useful for supporting cartilage and ligaments which in turn support and protect joints.
- Chondroitin, Flax, Glucosamine, Indian Frankincense and MSM can aid in increased joint mobility.
- Wheat sprouts and algae offer balanced proportions of antioxidant-A, to help your body fight damaging, inflammation creating free radicals, and help protect against the stresses your joints experience from increased physical activity.
- Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinol, the active and bioavailable form of Coenzyme Q10, support the body in neutralizing free radicals and stopping their destruction that can result in headaches, backaches, muscle aches, and pain in joints and ligaments.
- A stem cell support supplement, combining green tea extract, wild blueberry, carnosine (an antioxidant amino acid), vitamin D, blueberry extract and blue green algae. works to support the growth of adult stem cells and fight the free radicals that can cause joint pain.
Make this New Year’s health resolution the best ever by making it one that you can realistically accomplish and get you on the road to better health. With these simple tips and a little planning ahead you can start on the road to a healthier you!