Every time the clock ticks past 12am on December 31st, millions of people decide on resolutions to carry out for the New Year. More popular than ever are goals directed towards health and fitness. Due to this fact, gyms are usually packed for the first 2-3 weeks at the start of the year, and this may even be the busiest time for most commercial gyms. After the initial few weeks though, most people abandon their resolutions and fall back into similar patterns of behavior.
Why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep for so many people? There are multiple reasons for this; first and foremost, people generally start out at the gym with a negative attitude. They see it as a place where uncomfortable and painful physical activity takes place, usually after an already long and stressful day at work. People also tend to jump into physical activity to fast, leading to either physical discomfort or burn-out. Not having a clear and realistic set of expectations is a sure way to kick the gym habit within the first month. Lastly, people often don’t give a new behavior enough time to form into a habit. Exercise is no exception, and cessation of a fitness plan generally happens before any subconscious development has taken place.
You are probably thinking, “Okay, these may be the reasons why I am quitting, but how do I prevent quitting from happening?” Well, here are some basic tips and tricks to help you stay true to your gym resolutions for all of 2014 and beyond.
1. You may have been away from the gym for years or have never even stepped into one. Start out at a snails pace, not a full-out spring. Even beginning by simply walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes is a good start. If you are keen to venture into the free-weight section, start out with weights and repetitions you are comfortable with. Do not shock your body and psyche with a rigorous training program straight from the start. There is a common paranoia when people start to hit the gym, involving a feeling that other people are looking down on them for using lighter weights. This is not true, and even it is, it should be of no concern to you. You are there to better yourself, and it takes time. Stay true to yourself and keep moving forward, however slow it starts out.
2. Set a reminder on your phone or other device every day that you have planned to go to the gym for the first few weeks. Require even more encouragement? Tell co-workers, spouses or family members to give you slight reminders as you begin to form this new habit.
3. Remember to eat enough, and include meals with high protein content (20+ grams). Your body will require more protein than usual to build and repair lean muscle tissue. Also, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. If you do not fuel your body properly, it makes it much more difficult to muster up the energy and motivation to hit the gym.
4. Lastly, but certainly not the least, remind yourself you are doing this to improve your entire life. Go to the gym with a positive attitude and the thought in the back of your mind that this has the ability to change all aspects of how you live. A healthy body is a joy to have, and is something that will improve facets that you never thought possible. You will not only feel more physically energetic, but also much more mentally engaged and on point. As the Roman poet Juvenal said almost 2 000 years ago: “Mens sana in corpore sano”, which translates loosely to: “A healthy body leads to a healthy mind”.
In closing, I believe that being physically fit is something that is important in life, but most important for a career or volunteer firefighter in the fire service. Our lives and those that we serve depend on us to be in the best shape possible. This year, make sure you follow these simple steps and keep to your new years gym resolution. Put your mind to it and stick with it; you will be a much happier person for it in the end.