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Nearly everyone has started an exercise program at one time or another, full of enthusiasm and resolve, only to run out of motivation and eventually quit a few weeks down the road.
Often we try again and again, convinced that if we could only find the perfect exercise routine, we would happily stick with it and reap the benefits.
The truth is that it’s a lot easier to quit an exercise program than it is to stay with it and, human nature being what it is, many of us will choose the easy way out rather than keep plugging away at a workout program filled with drudgery.
Here are five tips for finally breaking the stop and go exercise cycle.
1. Set realistic goals – The biggest problem many people face is that they set their goals too high. It’s fine to have big dreams, but if you break those dreams down into smaller, more manageable goals, you’ll be less prone to discouragement when the going gets rough.
2. Find a workout partner – There’s no way around it; humans are social creatures and most of us find it easier and more enjoyable to exercise with a partner than to go it alone. An exercise partner helps keep you accountable, provides support and encouragement, and helps the time go by more quickly.
3. Find an exercise you enjoy – The importance of enjoying your workout cannot be overstated. No matter what type of exercise you do, if you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll keep doing it, and consistency is one of the biggest keys to succeeding in any fitness program.
4. Change it up once in a while – Even if they really enjoy it, most people will get bored following the same routine everyday for weeks or months on end. The more variety you can add to your program, the more it will seem fresh and new and the less likely it is that you’ll give up out of sheer boredom. Additionally, studies show that the greatest fitness adaptations take place in the first 6-10 weeks of any exercise program. After that, you’ll need to change the training stimulus to continue making gains.
5. Approach fitness as a lifestyle – All the 6- or 12-week programs in the world are useless if you stop exercising once they’re over. Unfortunately, your fitness is never static; you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. Realize that to stay in shape over the long term, you’ll need to keep exercising on a regular basis throughout your life. This means you have to pace yourself both in individual workouts and from week to week. You also have to take some time to think about the big picture to see where fitness and exercise fit into your overall life.