Kicking off a fitness journey is exciting thanks to ample motivation, drive and enthusiasm. But more often than not, there comes a time when all that excitement wanes. If you haven't been as consistent and dedicated as you'd like, it can be tricky to rev up again. These six tips will help you set goals and create an action plan that's realistic and achievable.
Evaluate Your Past
The best way to avoid future slip-ups is to learn from the past. Going back to the "scene of the crime" isn't always easy, but it is necessary. Ask yourself when your enthusiasm started waning and at what point your threw in the towel. Whether your fitness fever cooled off after recently PRing a race or if it's been years since you've maintained any sort of regular weekly exercise, combing over the details of what triggered that switch is a good place to start.
Keep a Log
Tracking your sets, reps and running PRs is a great way to monitor progress (not to mention save time by giving you a heads up on where to start next time). But noting your mood could help, too. Keep track of how you're feeling. Reviewing notes allows you to notice habits you might not have otherwise. Are you in a better mood after an afternoon lifting session? Does your body react more favorably to fasted morning cardio than a late-night sweat session? When it comes to staying in the fitness game for the long haul, identifying what makes you happiest and feel best is key.
Set Small, Realistic Goals
Don't confuse ambition with biting off more than you can chew. Starting too fast and furious out of the gate can be a recipe for disaster. Instead of resetting your fitness with lofty goals–like running that half marathon next month–break your end goal down into smaller, more manageable steps. Give yourself time to build up with easy runs and add cross-training to your routine to acclimate your body to the increased load. Then, slowly start integrating distance. By doing this, you'll build a strong foundation and limit the likelihood of burning out due to boredom or being sidelined with injury.
Create a Supportive Environment
No man is an island. When you press the reset button on your journey, lean on friends and family for support. Whether that means meal prepping with your partner or joining a group of like-minded individuals looking to embrace the fit life, knowing you're not taking things on solo helps. Adding accountability pushes you to show up when you might otherwise flake. An MIT study found that exercise is socially contagious, and seeing a friend push hard at the gym will likely motivate you to as well.
Keep Nutrition at the Forefront
When it comes down to it, you can't outtrain an unhealthy diet. A lack of results could leave you downtrodden, especially if you're training regularly. Make sure that you're fueling smart to support your increased activity. In addition to steering clear of added sugar and practicing mindful eating, eat smart around your workout. Consume the protein, carbs and fiber you need to perform at your best, and don't confuse refueling with overindulging after a tough session. One of the best ways to stay healthy day-to-day is to plan your meals ahead.
For your fitness journey to be long lasting, it has to hold your interest. Enjoy dancing? Get cardio in with Zumba. Striving to be stronger? Find a lifting partner. Looking to test your limits? Try indoor rock climbing. No matter your activity, keep fun at the forefront. Another way to do this is keeping your gear updated, so you'll always be excited about getting dressed for a workout. No matter how it looks for you, make sure you have enjoyment to lean on.