Health & Medicine

Set your new year’s fitness goal low and then make it a 2017 habit

Tricia SirLouis, a holistic fitness specialist and certified personal trainer, works at Baptist HealthwoRx.
Tricia SirLouis, a holistic fitness specialist and certified personal trainer, works at Baptist HealthwoRx.

Got a fitness resolution? Make it stick this year.

The new year is upon us, and with it often comes New Year’s resolutions. Fitness and weight loss generally top the list.

How did that work out for you last year? And the year before? So many of us have great intentions yet fail to follow through. We know the importance of improving our fitness, and yet we never take action.

How about moving past this inertia by making exercise part of your life rather than a New Year’s resolution? How about incorporating fitness into your daily routine so that it is equivalent to brushing your teeth, something you do out of habit?

Start by finding something you enjoy. If you hate the treadmill, don’t get on one. If you love music and dance, take up Zumba. Explore the many options out there, and see what lights you up.

Remember to set the bar low. Yes, I said low. Sure, you could choose CrossFit or some other intense fitness regiment, or participate in a triathlon, but will it become part of your daily life and stay? I tell my clients that completing a marathon is great, but exercising three times a week for the rest of your life is really impressive. It is a habit that will improve your lifelong health.

First, set a goal. If you are a sedentary person, instead of saying you want to jog for 30 minutes regularly, how about starting with walking for seven minutes? Crazy, I know, but hear me out. If you complete seven minutes, you have made your goal, which boosts the reward response in your brain. Also, endorphins will be flowing through your body.

At this point, chances are you will be feeling good about hitting your goal, and you will continue walking. The fact that you exceeded your objective gives you another mental boost. It also reinforces that exercise feels good. We are more likely to continue doing things that feel good and in which we succeed.

Build on it from there. Seven minutes can turn into 12, then 15, then 20. You get the idea. Our brains don’t like radical changes, so it’s difficult to sustain giant steps. Any amount of progress is a win, even if it is just seven minutes. That is seven minutes you were not on the couch.

Tricia SirLouis, a holistic fitness specialist and certified personal trainer, works at Baptist HealthwoRx Fitness and Wellness Center.

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