Have You Forgotten Your Fitness Goals?

An airman prepares to lift.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Patricia West, 52nd Command Post senior emergency actions controller, applies weights to a weightlifting bar to prepare to perform a shoulder press at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Jan. 16, 2019. (Airman 1st Class Jovante Johnson/U.S. Air Force photo)

Here is an email from a 40-year-old woman who has children, works and is trying to fit fitness into her life this year.

"Hey Stew - thanks for the FREE beginner guide to fitness. It is my goal to get into better shape this year for health reasons and more energy. Even though the workout is easy and I can see it is effective, I cannot get motivated to spend 15-20 minutes exercising." What gives? How do I get more consistent with this routine?"

I understand. I wish I had a magic solution for you and millions of others. Basically, keep doing something each day, even if it is just stretching for 5-10 minutes or walking a few minutes after meals.

There are many opinions on how long it physiologically takes to build a habit. For daily lifestyle changes, it may only take 3-4 weeks. For athletic movements like throwing a baseball, it may take 10,000 repetitions to get good at it. So if you can add in something to your world for 10 minutes a day for 3-4 weeks, you will build a habit. Then that could grow to 20-30 minutes a day of new activity to get healthy. You have to do this if you want to feel better, look better and be an example to others.

About your resolution

By week three of the new year, the word "resolution" has left our vocabulary. Either by now, you have made your resolution a daily habit and will be one of the less than 50% who actually accomplish their goal or, statistically speaking, have resorted back to your old ways. Do not feel bad; this happens every year to millions of us. Typically, 40%-45% of Americans make resolutions.

In fact, you are 10 times more likely to achieve a goal by making a resolution for the new year than not -- so that is the good news for those of you who started a resolution. It is not a waste of time. However, it is time to make it an attainable goal.

Here are some issues that obstruct the majority from never reaching their goals:

1. Bit off too much, too soon: Many combine many goals into the "fitness resolution." For instance, quitting smoking, watching your diet, reducing alcohol consumption and beginning an exercise regimen in the same week likely is setting you up for failure. It is difficult to do any one of those at once, so you have to pick one.

I always have recommended just adding fitness and water to your diet the first month of your goal. Soon, your body will start to crave better foods, or you will be less hungry, thanks to increased water intake. After a few months, when you are starting to feel good exercising, you will be better able to drop the other habits as they will affect your performance and results negatively.

2. Don't have time to exercise anymore: It is true that once the new year is here and we all get back to the crazy schedules of the post-holiday period, things get busy. The good news is that introducing fitness can be as simple as walking 10-15 minutes after a meal or two or waking up 15-20 minutes earlier in your day to do some stretching, calisthenics or cardio, as in the beginner plan earlier mentioned. Place exercise into your schedule, because if it is not scheduled, it does not exist.

Place this on your refrigerator:

*If it takes 21 days to build a habit, check each day off one at a time with a minimum of 10 minutes/day.

3. Do exercises while watching TV: The average American watches 3-5 hours of TV per day. That is a lot of time doing nothing. At first, just work out by doing abs or stretching during commercials, then build up to doing squats and push-ups during commercials. Soon you will be bringing the stationary bike and treadmill into the room while you watch "American Idol."

4. Find something fun: Something has to excite you in order to achieve a goal. It could be the results of looking good and feeling better than you have in decades. It could be you like the fresh air of walking in the mornings or dancing at night. It could be playing some basketball in the evenings with youths or swimming at the YMCA.

Whatever it is, make fitness a journey and find something you enjoy about it.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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