How to work off your post-holiday padding
By Stacey Stein
So many of us make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, but despite our best intentions, come February or March all too often we find ourselves working a groove into our couch instead of working out at the gym.
How can we make this year different?
Setting a goal that isn’t only realistic, but also factors in the kind of activity you enjoy, your lifestyle and your personality type might help motivate you to get in shape and stick to a consistent routine in 2017.
Personal trainer and fitness educator Felicia Taub says it’s important to “create a long-term outlook for the year, then break it down into bite-size pieces month to month.” She also recommends having a monthly “check in” with yourself.
Meanwhile, personal trainer and group fitness instructor Beth Bokser uses the acronym “SMART” to illustrate her approach to goal setting:
- “S” stands for “specific” (‘I want to lose weight’ isn’t a specific enough goal, for example);
- “M” is for “measurable”;
- “A” is for “accountable” (“today’s electronic devices make it so easy to be accountable,” says Bokser, pointing to apps that allow you to track what you eat or how many calories you’ve burned);
- “R” is for “realistic” (“if you’ve never exercised a day in your life, perhaps your first goal shouldn’t be to run the Boston Marathon next month,” says Bokser); and
- “T” stands for “timeframe” – Bokser recommends adding a timeframe to your goal, so for example, making a commitment to lose 25 pounds in six months.
So what kind of fitness goal is right for you? Here’s some advice to help guide you and get you started on the road to a fitter, healthier version of yourself in 2017.
Fitness personality: You enjoy cardio workouts
Goal: Run (or walk) a 5K race by the end of the year.
The plan: If you’re training to run or walk a 5K, mix it up and avoid sticking to the same thing every time you work out. This is important to avoid “plateauing,” which happens when your body is no longer challenged by the same routine. According to Bokser, changing your routine will keep your muscles challenged. “If you’ve found one machine you love, add intervals or speed,” she recommends. And if you enjoy all types of cardio, she recommends dividing up a half hour between three different machines – for instance, 10 minutes on a bike, 10 minutes on an elliptical and 10 minutes on the treadmill. Don’t forget to also work in some runs or walks outdoors when the weather is nice.
Fitness personality: You enjoy working out in a social atmosphere
Goal: Try out different types of group exercise classes.
The plan: These days, there are boutique fitness studios specializing in everything from ballet barre classes, to yoga, to spinning and more. All of these classes are performed in a group setting, which is perfect if you’re more motivated to exercise with other people around (working out with a friend can also help keep you motivated and accountable). “A social atmosphere is not only fun, but also motivating for many,” says Bokser. A social person may also want to consider trying out a gym that allows you to try out many different types of classes. “Set a goal of doing two classes a week – maybe one you’re familiar with and one you’ve always wanted to try,” Bokser recommends.
Fitness personality: You have a busy and unpredictable schedule, so you need to fit in fitness whenever you can.
Goal: To maintain a consistent workout schedule.
The plan: Bokser acknowledges that fitting in fitness consistently can be a little more difficult for a person whose schedule is unpredictable. Still, she advises “making a commitment to get to the gym one to two times a week – once a week, schedule a workout with yourself as if it was a business meeting.” Felicia Taub suggests hiring a personal trainer (who can meet with you depending on your availability), or working out with DVDs from home or at a hotel if your job involves a lot of travel. You can also stream a variety of workouts – anything from yoga to strength training – from anywhere, at a time that works with your schedule.
The bottom line
Finding the right type of fitness routine that works with your personality and lifestyle, then setting an attainable goal is key to making sure you stick with your plan to get fit and stay fit.
“Health goals should be long-term life goals,” says Taub, adding that one of the best ways to achieve success when starting a new fitness regime is to create an accountability partner or group. “Find a person or people to help keep you on track,” she advises. And if Jan. 1 has come and gone and you still find yourself putting on your slippers instead of your sneakers, Taub says not to worry. “Day One can be all year round,” she says.