Ways to stick to your exercise routine
Setting goals, engaging a trainer or getting a buddy all help you stay the course
It's hard starting on an exercise routine and even harder keeping to it - especially when it isn't the most comfortable thing on the to-do list.
But just because something is difficult doesn't mean it should be put to rest - after all, exercise keeps us healthy and in shape.
So how do you make yourself go back to the treadmill or yoga mat when the going gets tough?
SET A GOAL, MAKE A PLAN
First, have a goal.
"It may be to fit into a wedding dress or overcome a degenerative disease, one has to have an objective in mind first," said Mr Aldrin Ho, principal specialist of Ziklag Fitness.
Having something to work towards is a powerful motivator. If you struggle with keeping your eye on the prize, try using a vision board - put up your favourite pictures and quotes. Having visual cues not only helps you maintain focus but also reinforces your intentions.
Once you've identified a specific goal, find out how you can go about achieving it.
"It is important to formulate an action plan on what needs to be done to reach that goal and act on it," said Mr Ho.
This involves making the necessary arrangements (researching on a suitable exercise routine, booking classes) and reshuffling schedules and priorities, especially if they concern lifestyle habits and dietary preferences.
Taxing as these modifications may be, they support you in cultivating a stronger commitment to what you want to accomplish.
Having a goal is crucial, but it is equally important that the expectations set are realistic - which means knowing your physical limits and accepting them.
"Goals need to be achievable for them to be a positive reinforcement," said Mr Ho.
It is easy to be discouraged when physical changes don't come about as fast as we would like, but pay attention to consistency instead of obsessing over results and that will take you further in the long run.
Besides, while it can take four to six weeks to have a visible difference, you will likely experience positive mental and emotional changes within the first three weeks, which is enough incentive to stay on the grind.
It is also good to keep going as it is way easier to get something you do almost every day for 30 days to become a habit, as compared to doing it only once every few days.
"In order to adopt a healthy lifestyle as a long-term habit, a person will need to stick to his exercise regime for at least a month to get into it," said Mr Ho.
GET A TRAINER
If you can afford it, consider engaging a professional trainer to assist you in reaching your goals more efficiently. Said Mr Ho: "Working with a personal trainer or coach to work out a reasonably achievable plan can make a difference in your health or weight-loss goal."
A trainer not only ensures that you exercise according to a programme tailored to your fitness level and body type but also provides you with the motivation to persevere.
Moreover, good trainers constantly teach you new things and add variety to your workout, which lessens the odds of you getting sick of your routine.
You can also make social media work for you. Announcing your workout plan to your Facebook friends or Instagram followers helps you keep to your word. Having words of encouragement sent your way might just be that something extra you need.
Or you can take it a notch higher by hitting the gym or pounding the pavement with a pal.
"(Going with a friend) is the path of least resistance. Usually, people will join friends to participate in an activity, (especially) if they are newbies," said Mr Ho.
Studies have shown that you not only train harder but also longer when you have a workout partner.
This article first appeared in the February issue of Cleo Singapore.