No question, January is the busiest time of year for gyms, but those crowded treadmills and elliptical trainers look nearly abandoned come spring. So how can you beat out the masses and stay motivated to exercise after the New Year's resolutions are long forgotten? Georgia Janos, a certified personal trainer and regional group exercise director at Boston Sports Club, offers these 10 ways to keep from quitting.
1. Keep it real. Set realistic weekly goals, and make them fitness -- not weight -- related. (Exercise often doesn't lead to noticeable weight loss unless you're also dieting.) "The duration of workouts need to be realistic," stresses Janos. "If you're just starting out, 20 minutes may be just about right for the first several weeks." Also, only commit to doing activities that you enjoy, or at least don't despise. If you hate getting on that treadmill, take a Zumba class instead.
2. Evaluate your weekly progress. Each week, check in with yourself to see what's working, and what's not. Make alterations to your routine as needed.
3. Ask for assistance. You don't need to hire a personal trainer to get some assistance with a machine. Those folks in the gym uniforms are there to instruct and fix your form if necessary, says Janos.
4. Schedule your workout time into your blackberry. Treat it like a doctor's appointment. This will make it feel more like a commitment and make you feel accountable if you break it. Perhaps you should charge yourself if you don't cancel within 24 hours
5. Mix it up. If you're getting bored after you check in with yourself every week, vary it up by incorporating new weekly exercises.
6. Use the buddy system. Work out with a friend, coworker, or family member. Having someone to account to if you miss a workout can be a great motivation not to skip.
7. Consider hiring a personal trainer. Sure it's pricey but trainers can push you beyond where you'd normally push yourself and can help better access your fitness needs. Another option if you don't want to drop $60 to $90 a session is to sign up for a small group training session. These usually have 3 to 12 people and cost about $20 a session.
8. Set up a hot-line friend. This doesn't have to be a workout buddy but just someone to call to get you motivated if you're just not in the mood to exercise. This person should be willing to respond to your calls or texts with some tough love words of wisdom. Perhaps you can pay him or her if you skip that exercise appointment. (See tip #4.)
9. Don't give yourself license to overeat. Just because you ran for 20 minutes doesn't mean you can treat yourself to a hot fudge sundae. In fact, you'll probably wind up consuming more than you burned off. Stick with these smart eating strategies.
10. Understand that it's a lifestyle change, not a quick fix for holiday weight gain. "Exercise should become a habit like brushing your teeth," says Janos. "If you forget to brush your teeth one night, you're not going to stop, right? The same should be true for exercise."
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