How many diets have you been on in hopes of finally losing the extra weight? Did they work or are you still searching for the one plan that will be the solution to all your fat-loss troubles? You might not be looking close enough, because it's right under your nose. Here are five tips to make your next foray into health and wellness a no-fail one.
1. Make goals manageable.
A goal shouldn't be a dream; it should be something attainable. If you've never lifted weights before or eaten clean, attempting to hit the gym seven days a week and cutting out all "bad" food right away is setting yourself up for failure. For most people, upending a lifetime of habits isn't instantaneous.
The key to sustainable goals is to small, gradual changes. So if your goal is to go from never eating vegetables at all to having green smoothies and veggies at every meal, start introducing them gradually. Begin by having a smoothie twice a week and steadily increase the quantity and quality over a few months. That's the best way to approach all health goals — slow and steady always wins the race.
2. Write and measure it.
Goals should be both specific and measurable. A recent study found that setting broad, vague goals can make people depressed. Writing down your goals is one of the best ways to accomplish them, and so is figuring out the exact steps needed to get there.
"I want to lose weight" is a pretty common goal, but how exactly do you go from point A to point B? Choosing a more specific result, like "I want to lose 3-5 pounds each month by lifting weights two days and doing cardio three days a week," is much more realistic. Breaking down the goal's components and keeping a regular checklist will help solidify the task and keep you on track.
Try to make resolutions that follow the SMART model: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound.
3. Question your "why."
A steady gym habit and great diet can result in a "bikini body," but vanity goals eventually lose their appeal after endless weeks of diet and exercise. Instead, try framing fitness as a direct path to health and happiness. Regular exercise can lower blood pressure, decrease signs of aging, boost overall energy and make you happier! Bringing deeper intentions to your goals can make all the difference in sticking with it or jumping ship. Before hitting the gym and cooking your meals, ask yourself some tough questions:
- Why did you make this resolution?
- What do you want to achieve?
- How is this bettering my life?
4. Break the rules, often.
How many people resolve to finish a marathon only to realize they kind of hate distance running? Or decide to take up fitness classes and quickly learn they don't enjoy being in a room with a dozen other sweaty people? A lot of things seem like fun from a distance but might not be a good fit in reality.
If this happens to you, it's time to switch gears and make your own rules. You get one life to live, so have fun and find YOUR healthy! It may not look like anyone else's plan, but that's OK.
5. Make a date.
Scheduling is super important for sticking to any goal and health is no exception. Research suggests that early morning exercise may be best — it's a great way to fit a workout into a busy day and it encourages healthier eating and more movement throughout the day. But if waking up early feels like absolute torture, then hitting the gym at the crack of dawn and doing meal prep is probably not a sustainable program.
Make your fitness routine work for you. You wouldn't skip work or important appointments that you make, so apply the same principal to exercise. Your health is the one appointment you want to always keep, so pick a time of day when you have energy, schedule a workout and keep it up.
So, are you going to break the rules and finally reach your goals? It's simpler than you think. Just trash what doesn't work and put so much good in your life that there's no room for anything else.
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