One of the first classes I’ve had to take for my Master’s is a research design class. We’re basically learning the different types of research methods (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods) and applying different aspects to assignments along the way leading up to our research paper. For the assignments, you can either use the topic you plan on doing your paper on (the SMART way to do things because you’re essentially writing your paper!) or you can use a made up research subject for each. Anyway, one of my classmates posted a hypothetical topic researching why 92% of New Year’s fitness resolutions do not last the entire 12 months. The research would include a survey that would identify “significant factors as to why a person’s respective fitness plan failed.”
Interesting, right? I responded that I thought he should actually DO the study because the answers might be really interesting and important! Anyhoooo, it got me to thinking…. (and we all know THAT can be dangerous. haha! but seriously…)
I don’t know about that percentage – that may just be something he made up – but it seems fairly probable to me. And that’s so unfortunate! Counting out those who start a new fitness program for all the wrong reasons (doing it for someone else instead of themselves, going to the gym to meet hot chicks/dudes, they were dared, they feel they have to, etc), there HAVE to be tips that can help the person who is starting for all the right reasons (health, lifestyle changes, etc) stick with it.
1. FIND A BUDDY
If you are just starting a workout program or going to a new gym, find a buddy to go with you! If you have a buddy, you’re more likely to show up because you don’t want to be “that guy” who leaves your pal hanging. Well, at least I don’t want to be that person. Plus, if you have a buddy, you’re sharing the load of stress and nervousness. Especially if you start going to a boot camp class or other group fitness type classes. I personally don’t like being the “new person” and having all eyes and all the attention on me. Eeek! When I started CrossFit, I had a buddy go with me to the “try it out” workout and we had a blast and, while we were the new people, we shared the “newness” with each other.
2. FOLLOW A PLAN
So, let’s say you want to start running. Good for you! Put them shoes on and head out the door! Running is so much fun (to me and quite a few thousand other people) and most definitely the cheapest sport you can take on. But, what if running ISN’T your idea of fun? What if you’ve always had the mindset that running is the worst thing ever but you are finally going to give it a try to see what that “runner’s high” is all about? How are you going to make, and keep, it interesting? Well, for starters, see #1. 😀 Runners love sharing their misery! haha. jk. RUNNING IS FUN!! (and running groups LOVE new people!! Find a local running group and make some new friends!) But seriously, decide on a goal and follow a plan! Obviously, deciding in January that you want to run a marathon in September may not be the ideal goal for a brand new runner but you can start smaller! There are so many different Couch to 5k programs and there are quite a few 10k plans geared to novice runners. Plus, many of them have online groups/forums where you can share how you’re doing and keep yourself accountable!
3. KEEP A FITNESS JOURNAL
There are many, many good reasons for keeping a fitness journal. First of all, it makes it really easy to track progress. I mean, seriously, if you write it all down, you’re going to see improvements. You’ll be able to go back to where you were and see how far you’ve come! Plus, it’ll help keep you accountable. There’s nothing worse than buying a brand new fitness journal, using it religiously for a week or two, and then watching the pages stay empty. When I started running, I used a basic running journal that I got from Runner’s World magazine. It helped me keep track of my workouts, my mileage (which is important for making sure you don’t run in shoes that are too old. trust me.), and my times, as I improved. I’ve got each one and any time I want, I can go back and look at how much work I put in to training for all those marathons. I also keep one for CrossFit workouts. It helps me track weights and times for benchmark workouts so I can see how much I’ve improved.
Don’t think you need spend a ton of moolah on a fancy pants journal either. A 99 cent spiral notebook from Wal-Mart will work just fine. 🙂
4. HIRE A PERSONAL TRAINER OR COACH
Depending on what your goals are or what type of person you are, a personal trainer or coach may be the right option for you. If you want to go to the gym and start lifting weights and working out but KNOW that you are TERRIBLE at holding yourself accountable and you’re new in town or don’t have any friends (awkward), paying someone to train you and be there waiting for you is a pretty decent incentive to get up off your butt and go work out. Also, if you are completely brand new to working out, a personal trainer can help you learn how to navigate the free weights and machines at your gym so you don’t go in and get hurt. If you’re already going to the gym but resigned to the treadmill or elliptical because those were the only machines you could figure out but you WANT to start using weights and building muscle, a personal trainer is definitely the way to go.
5. LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR
This one may seem counterintuitive but I personally have seen entirely too many people who think they know what they are doing and when they get into the gym, they flounder about for a few minutes, realize they are in over their heads and suddenly, it’s a complete and total insult to their ego. And then, buh bye. They’re gone. Or, they go out for a run and 800 meters later, they realize running might be harder than they expected. It’s hard for quite a few people to admit they need help or can’t do something – myself included! BUT, it’s necessary to understand that a brand new fitness program is just that – brand new – and you’re not going to be able to do all the things right away. Wouldn’t that be nice if it worked that way? I could finally ride that unicycle gathering dust in my garage. 😉
Anyway, all of that can be really disappointing and tough to swallow for someone who’s used to being able to just DO stuff without any trouble. The good news is, we’ve all been there and we know how you feel. No one is going to judge you for being a beginner – everyone has to start somewhere and it pretty much happens to be at the beginning. My point is – just remember to go into any new fitness program cutting yourself a little slack. Check that ego at the door and understand that some things are going to be tough. Don’t beat yourself up because the guy next to you is lifting more or the girl next to you is running at a faster pace. You’ll get there. At YOUR pace. 🙂Starting a new fitness program? Here are some tips to help you stick with it! #sweatpink… Click To Tweet
Thank you, Amanda, for letting me Think Out Loud. <3