Set a SMART goal: one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive.
Be realistic yet challenge yourself. Research shows that setting easy goals makes us less motivated to try to achieve them. A challenging goal can be achievable when it’s a personally meaningful goal that we’ve set for ourselves not one that others have told us we should embark on. To achieve a goal we must be invested in it.
Focus on what you did do not on what you didn’t do.
Setting up impossible demands on yourself will set you up to fail. Be proud you exercised twice in one week instead of beating yourself up for not exercising five times.
Change one behavior at a time.
In the 1990s I started my inchoate quest to have better health. The first week I replaced whole milk with skim milk. Next I cooked chicken without the skin. Then I stopped cooking meat. And so on.
Reward yourself often for little victories as well as milestones.
My favorite is to shop at Banana Republic with coupon codes. The cost of the treat should be commensurate with the goal. I’m not advocating for spending a lot of money on rewards just on the kind of reward that boosts a person up.
Set performance goals as you go farther along.
Achieving perfect form, lifting higher weights, doing more reps or mastering an exercise you previously weren’t good at all count as possible performance goals.
Find the kind of exercise that is best for you.
I’m a big fan of strength training most of all for everyone as we get older and want to maintain a healthy weight and have functional fitness throughout our lives.
For you, your own Tour de Fitness might be taking spinning classes.
Focus on the positive long-term consequences of developing a consistent fitness routine instead of dwelling on the occasional setbacks that are often only temporary.
If for a week or two you haven’t exercised as often as you wanted or have “fallen down” in a way that upsets you be kinder to yourself and remember that “fitness is forever” and you’re not perfect. Aim for progress instead.
Remember that nutrition is 80 percent of fitness.
Food habits go hand-in-hand with exercise habits. Endless snacking and unhealthful eating can torpedo your efforts at the gym.
Re-frame your perception of “exercise.”
In my own life I use the umbrella term fitness not exercise. Fitness is an organic approach that encompasses lifestyle (thoughts and feelings, spirituality, finances, career and relationships, among other things).