After enjoying that much needed winter break in-between semesters, we can all admit to slacking off when it comes to staying healthy. We may have focused more on the delightful arrangements of holiday sugar cookies rather than on our workouts and green smoothie recipes. However, with the new year settling in, and our new PINK sports bras eyeing us down from our pile of Christmas gifts, it is time to start back up again! If you haven’t really been serious about working out and staying fit before, it is never too late to start. Here are some helpful tips to any new gym-goers, and reminders for those whose workout routines may seem to have been blurred or mentally erased in its entirety.
Set Realistic Goals
Start by being real with yourself! This means not expecting your muscle memory to kick in right away, or diving into a set of weights you wish to be able to lift. In your first couple of weeks back to the gym avoid setting goals that are too high because you are potentially setting yourself up for failure. Going too hard at the start will make you feel discouraged when you cannot reach your goals, especially when your arms are aching and your muscles feel sore. This results in missed workouts and classes that will practically scowl at you, discouraging you even further from going back to the gym.
Find a Support Team
Counter discouragement with support because nothing is more encouraging than organizing hangouts with your friends around a communal gym schedule. Setting similar goals will add a happier and more positive tone toward the idea of getting back in shape. Swap out your weekly coffee dates with a hot yoga class that works around all of your schedules instead. Not only will that set you up for a much more productive and level-headed girl talk and catch up, but I believe Booster Juice would do your body much more justice than that soya White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks can! Maybe add a GoGirl or Protein booster for added benefits!
Start Slow and Build Momentum
Start off with one workout for the week and gradually build up and push yourself to do more. These baby steps will make exercising feel more doable rather than overwhelming. Consider a monthly challenge where you can follow small exercises laid out for you for each day of the week. As you follow through with multiple weeks of finding success and checking off some of your goals you will feel more motivated to continue. Along with the gradual succession of your newfound exercise routines you can also create a good workout playlist to assist in your energy levels. Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” or Alt-J’s “Left Hand Free” are a couple of songs to get you going!
Perfect Your Form
A common mistake is trying to use exercise machines and equipment before finding out exactly how they work. Get in touch with someone who is familiar with the equipment and can teach you the basics, starting with the proper form for each machine. From there you can learn which exercises you should focus on to attain your goal; how many reps you should do; and how often you should use the machine. If you do not have any luck with finding somebody you know to help you out, there are many videos on YouTube you can follow as a free resource to this information. If you are more of a hands-on learner, perhaps a couple of sessions with a personal trainer could prove to be a good investment in teaching you how to properly train, thus helping you out greatly in the long run.
Switch it Up
I know some of us resent the monotonous routine of the gym, but exercising does not have to be a chore… unless you want it to be! Dust around your house or clean out your closet for a workout. Any type of movement is progressive! Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park farther than your normally would when getting groceries. Get those few extra steps in to keep your blood flowing and heart pumping steadily. Find what you love most and use it to your benefit. Hot Yoga, Zumba, hiking, bike rides, dog-walking, and skating are all great examples of activities that you can do to exercise. Working out does not have to be boring or tedious— personalize your workouts and have fun with it! Switching up your exercises ever so often allows for a greater muscle range to be worked out, which in turn keeps your body’s awareness heightened, giving you greater results!
Change Your Mindset
Stop dragging those feet and start doing some high knees because as much as you want to think of the months you still have left ahead of you to attain that goal summer bod, you should really learn to pick up the slack. Stop prioritizing exercising within seasons: It is just as important to work out in the winter between watching episodes of the Mindy Project in your sweats, as it is vacationing in your new bikini in Cuba. Instead of coming up with excuses to hold off on exercising regularly it is time to shift your focus. Not only does exercising provide you with exterior aesthetic wonders, but your interior surely benefits as well. We forget that it is important to stay healthy and exercise simply because it is good for our well-being. Do not forget of the long-term health benefits that continuously paying attention and taking care of your body comes hand in hand with.
Eat at Home More
Yes, you can exercise endlessly, but so long as you are feeding your body things you cannot pronounce, or “food” that is handed to you in a greasy paper bag, you will not see as great or long-lasting of a result! With training and exercising comes the increasing need for a good, wholesome diet which includes staying hydrated and eating healthy. The best way to do this is by cooking your own meals. When grocery shopping stick to the outskirts of the store toward the fresh produce and away from the processed junk food. Finding a balance between food and exercise will take time, but by staying dedicated and slowly implementing healthy changes into your life you will surely achieve your goals for this year!