If, like many of us, you’ve already abandoned your New Year’s resolution of getting in shape, there’s probably a good reason — maybe your goals were too vague. The secret to sticking to a fitness routine, according to award-winning personal trainer and Nautilus Advisory Board Member Jay Blahnik? Set measurable short-term goals that have a start and finish you can actually see. Here are six no-fail ways to get motivated, starting today.
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The simplest way to ramp up your results is to exercise just a little more. If you’re currently exercising three days a week, penciling in just one more weekly workout will increase your gym time by a third. To stay committed, Blahnik suggests getting a buddy. “When you make yourself accountable to someone else, you’re more likely to follow through.” Plus, working out with a friend is much more enjoyable than clocking solo time on the treadmill.
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Blahnik says a healthy weight loss is no more than one or two pounds a week, equivalent to about 12-20 pounds lost in a 10-week season. So pick a goal weight in that range and track your progress using a weight loss app, like Lose It! or MyNetDiary. Seeing a visual record of your accomplishments will help keep you motivated. (Need 101 tips? Check out cutthefatpodcast.com to learn weight loss basics.)
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Registering for a race gives you a tangible finish line to work toward. No need to commit to a marathon; just start small. “A 5K or 10K is a realistic distance anyone can finish with a small amount of training,” Blahnik says. He recommends training for six to eight weeks, with three days of running and two other days of moderate activity — think walking or cleaning the house. And why go it alone? Many race websites provide links to local running groups. Even signing up for a race the same weekend as a friend across the country will force you to ‘fess up if you skip training. Peer pressure can be positive!
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If yoga is more your speed, Blahnik suggests choosing a common pose that challenges you — for example, the tree pose or downward dog. “Let your yoga teacher know you want to perfect this pose and he or she can suggest what you should work on. This way you’re both invested,” Blahnik says. “Take a photo of your instructor doing the pose so you have a visual of what it should look like. Ask your teacher to take a photo of you after every class so week after week you can see how much closer you are to achieving your goal.”
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Whether you can do 20 push-ups or can barely muster one, adding reps helps you build total body strength — working your core, glutes and back. “First, find out how many push-ups you can do without stopping,” Blahnik says. “Do as many as you can on your toes, and when you get tired, drop to your knees and do as many as you can in that position.” Try to complete one more full body push-up every day, and have someone take a video of you so you can see your form improve. For more help, use an app, such as 100 Pushup Challenge, to watch videos and get tips from trainers.
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Whether it’s kickball in the park or competitive fencing, every sport comes with tangible ways to improve — and you’re bound to find an adult league near you. Setting a sport-related goal, like increasing your shooting average in basketball or dropping your fastest mile time for an upcoming race, will make your routine more exciting. Commit one day a week to practicing a skill, and you’ll see improvement in four to six weeks, Blahnik says. And with your mind in the game (literally), you’ll forget how much you used to dread working out.
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