Having goals in life is important. They keep us going, give us something to strive for and (for the most part) keep us focused on a positive momentum towards the future. But sometimes having a goal isn’t enough. You also need the know-how and follow-through to make that goal a reality–especially when it comes to creating a healthier, more fit you. Don’t let your fitness goals fall by the wayside because you’re floundering on the follow-through. Read on for our top seven tips for achieving your fitness goals and make realizing your best self this year’s #1 priority.
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1. Vow to Achieve the Possible
Set yourself up for success by creating a goal with your personal capabilities in mind. Of course you want to challenge yourself, but setting the bar too high all at once will likely result in burning out and giving up before you even get close to success. Vowing to work out for five hours a day, six days a week may not be the best plan if you’re currently used to exercising a total of 40 minutes on the elliptical while binging The Good Place on Hulu. Take your current fitness level into account when you set your fitness goal. While an intense five-hour daily workout may not be something you can handle right now, spending an hour at the gym two or three times a week is. Setting smaller, more manageable goals also allows you to see results (i.e., success) a lot sooner. And when you get results, you’re more likely to keep up your healthier lifestyle. Once your first mini goal is met, you can set another one knowing you’ll crush it. By managing your expectations, you’re far more likely to achieve your ultimate goal in a timely fashion–and then set another one once you surpass it.
2. Buy Some Cute Workout Clothes
Dress for a successful workout by wearing clothes you actually look cute in as opposed to those oversized concert tees you’ve been holding on to for years. New clothes generally make us feel better about ourselves overall. Treating yourself to cute new workout clothes from time to time is a great way to keep your self-confidence up as you tackle a new fitness challenge like mastering a complicated aerobics class or lifting weights on the floor (and in front of the mirror). In addition to making you feel more confident as you exercise, sporting a new pair of cute and comfy leggings first thing in the morning can also give your motivation level a boost. When you dress in workout clothes first thing in the morning, you’re more likely to follow through on your exercise plan as opposed to giving in to all of the excuses of why today just isn’t “a good day” to work out. Dressing the part is an important life hack–and workout clothes are no exception. By starting your day dressed for a heart-pumping workout, you’ll already be in the mindset that it’ll happen. And really, isn’t that half the battle?
3. Work Out with Friends
Working out with a friend can be a lot more fun than going it alone. Enlist a BFF, co-worker or significant other into being your workout buddy once or twice a week to mix things up and give you something different to look forward to. By blending your social time with your workout time, you’ll not only have more fun burning calories, but you’ll also start looking forward to your exercise time together. Plus, you’ll keep each other accountable, making it harder to bail on an early morning workout. Having a workout buddy can also be a great motivator. Not only will you inspire each other to keep going when the going gets tough, but having your own personal cheerleader waiting in the wings is a great way to feel validated for all of the hard work you’ve already accomplished during your personal fitness journey.
4. Watch What You Eat
As much as we’d like to believe that the only thing standing between us and a smaller dress size is one killer HIIT workout, we know that exercise gets us nowhere without a balanced diet. Coupling your workout regimen with a smart nutrition plan is the best way to achieve your fitness goal–and maintain it. While fad diets and meal-order programs may be a good way to shed a quick 10 lbs., the likelihood of keeping those pounds off once you go back to your normal eating habits is pretty slim. Instead of depriving yourself of foods you love (carbs), try using an app or diet program that helps you count calories, manage your portions and educates you about making smart food choices throughout the day. Being on top of your water intake is another way you can help curb calories. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day fills you up and keeps you hydrated, which in turn is great for your skin (amongst other organs). Win-win!
5. Document Your Success
Keeping a visual track record of your fitness journey is a great way to stay motivated. It also reminds you how far you’ve come on those days where you feel less than accomplished. Take a before photo when you set your workout goal and then continue to take selfies throughout your journey. Whether you post a progress pic to Instagram after every workout or just check in with yourself once a week or so, you’ll be thrilled at the changes you’ll see in the photos.
6. Be Safe
Working out can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Whatever exercise program you choose, however, make sure you’re doing it safely. If you like to lift weights, then learn the proper posture you need for each rep and how much weight you should be lifting. Pumping too much iron before you’re ready can lead to serious injury–and a big time out from the gym while you heal. Likewise, when you take a new workout class, make sure you ask about modifications for those moves you’re not quite able to master yet. And ensuring you have the right workout gear–like comfortable, cute sneakers and a supportive sports bra–to get you through your workout without injury (or a wardrobe malfunction) should be high on your “To-Do List” before starting any new exercise program.
7. Try Something New
If all else fails and you just can’t get out of your workout funk, try doing something new. Taking a class you’ve never done before or hiking a different trail can offer that new and exciting change of pace you’ve been looking for. Plus, trying out a new form of exercise can kickstart your metabolism into working a little harder–getting you that much closer to slaying your goals.