Sunday, December 28, 2008

9 Tips to Help you Keep your Fitness Resolutions

Traditionally, the New Year is a time of self-evaluation, goal-setting and change. And after more than a month of overeating (Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day), most of us have gained a few pounds and are thinking about health and fitness. If you are like the average American, your last year’s resolutions were out the window by March! March!

To help all of us be successful beyond March, I’d like to offer a little advice for your 2009 Resolutions. These 9 tips are in no particular order, but needless to say, they have a "walking" focus.

1) Be realistic. Set goals you have a chance of meeting. If your goal is to enter and finish Last Chance for Boston in early February in record time, and you haven’t walked in a month -- not likely! But you could enter and train for the Cincinnati Flying Pig in May or the Columbus Marathon in October. Or you could enter some local 5Ks all year long.

2) Don’t overdo it. Don’t set so many goals that you become burned out quickly. If you add spin classes and weightlifting along with walking all on the same days and changing your entire diet, within two weeks you won’t be doing anything.

3) Don’t beat yourself up if you have a minor setback. Pick a day and start over. When “restarting” my resolutions, I usually pick a Monday or the first day of a month. There is something about a fresh week or month that is helpful.

4) Start a new resolution each month throughout the year. Maybe in January you resolve to walk 4 to 5 days a week. February you eat one extra serving of fruit each day. In March you add push ups to your workout routine. In April you eat a healthy breakfast each day, in May you give up caffeine (Just kidding. I love caffeine.) In June you stretch after each workout …. You’ll have something new to focus on each month that can spark your enthusiasm. Studies show it takes 21 to 30 days for a new behavior to become a habit, so if these new behaviors build on each other, you’ll have achieved a lot by the end of the year.

5) Write it down. Many of us use mileage logs to keep our walking in check. Make your mileage log a health and fitness log, keeping track of all your fitness goals. Seeing what you have accomplished can help keep you going.

6) Seek out a support group. Whether it is a walking club or Weight Watchers, it is helpful to have others who are working toward a similar goal. Online groups like the WALK! Magazine Walking Team or a Yahoo discussion group will also help. Plus, if you know a group is dependent on you, you are much more likely to show up. (Insert Deb’s hysterical laughter here.)

7) If your goal is to enter a race or walking event, pay your entry fee early. Once you put money toward the entry fee, hotel or airfare, you are less likely to back out. In addition, tell people you are going to do it. Tell your walking buddies, post on discussion groups and they will be your support group. Tell your other friends and family. The more people who know, the more embarrassing it will be if you back out and fear of embarrassment is a great motivator!

8) The opposite of number 1 -- Do something bold! Pick something you have always wanted to do, but accomplishing it will be a BIG deal -- something that will keep you excited and working hard for a long time. Maybe instead of doing a local race, you do the Disney Marathon, or an event in Hawaii or Barbados! Would you like to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail or the Grand Canyon? A walking vacation in Europe would be fun! You don't even have to accomplish it this year, but start planning for something that will be exciting or life-altering for you.

9) Reward yourself. When you have accomplished a goal, you deserve a reward. After you have walked 5 days a week for a month, buy a great pair of new socks. When you complete your first 20-mile walk, maybe you deserve a cute new technical shirt. When you finish a great race, buy a charm or race shirt to commemorate it! (What would I have to do to earn a Garmin?)

So, with these tips in mind, let’s all have the best and healthiest year possible in 2009! And I’ll see you at the starting line of the Cincinnati Flying Pig (Half) Marathon in May.

Happy New Year!

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