As we enter into a new year, gym memberships boom with people making the first step towards one of the most common goals for the year – Weight Loss. Wanting to slim down and tone up is a common theme amongst the 69% of our population who set a New Years Resolution. Unfortunately though, this early motivation tends to dwindle as the days and weeks pass, and less than one quarter of the goals set are reached.
But why are these resolutions so often unsuccessful? Perhaps if each person’s reason for joining the gym or exercising more were altered, more goals would be achieved.
Aiming for weight loss alone when starting an exercise program can set you up for failure. Research shows that exercise without dietary modification is not enough to make great changes in a persons’ weight. People tend to underestimate the calories burned through exercise, and ‘sweating it out’ is rarely enough to achieve weight loss goals. After putting in hours of cardio and not seeing the scales go down, many throw in the towel. Others may embark in a calorie restricting diet aswell, lose weight, then gain it all back when they cannot maintain the extreme changes.
But what if we aimed for increased fitness instead?
Weight loss is certainly important for improved health and reduced risk of chronic disease, but fitness is a more achievable goal. It is tangible and easily tracked, hence more motivating. This leads to longevity, and sustained benefits.
When starting an exercise program, focusing on fitness as opposed to fat loss can be far more rewarding. Higher levels of fitness can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as improve mental health, sleep and multiple other conditions. Exercise improves your health, and makes you feel better. And yes, when combined with dietary changes, exercise will help you lose weight. You cannot out-exercise a poor diet.
Still not feeling motivated? Here are some tips to help:
1 – Instead of focusing on the number on the scales, aim your attention on the positive aspects of the lifestyle changes you are making – feeling more energetic, less stressed, sleeping better, and even how far you can run or how much weight you can lift. Focus on how you will feel when finished your workout as opposed to the strain of completing it.
2 – Avoid having an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to exercise. Every little bit counts. Focusing on moving more and sitting less each and every day will help you keep more active. Using a pedometer or other tracking device can help here.
3 – Set mini goals along the way towards your ultimate goal. Make sure they are realistic, and write them down. Once achieved, reward yourself! Treat yourself to a massage or a new pair of running shoes for your hard work and commitment.
4 – If you have a medical condition, or are simply unsure where to start, seek help from a professional. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist can implement an individualised exercise program for you according to your fitness level and goals. They can also provide nutritional advice and help to keep you on track.
5 – Do something you enjoy! If you are finding the gym mundane, why not try a dancing class or some yoga? Keep it varied, enjoyable and progressively challenging.
Good health is a journey, not a destination. So enjoy the ride!
Happy New Year!