There could be fewer feet thumping on treadmills in the coming days and weeks, as Americans weigh whether to bail on the gym — and their New Year’s fitness resolutions.
Jennipher Walters, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Fit Bottomed Girls, tells Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson that falling off the wagon can be understandable as that hopeful, post-holiday glow begins to fade.
“I think it’s kind of the same thing that you feel on a Sunday night or a Monday, where you’re like, ‘This week’s going to be different. I’m going to be organized, I’m going to eat right, I’m going to have all these healthy plans,’ and then by like Friday, you’re like, ‘Let’s order pizza and stay at home,’ ” Walters (@FitBottomedGirl) says. “It’s just a natural thing for humans to get really amped up, and then maybe not have as much structure or bite off a little bit more than we can chew, because change is difficult.”
So what’s the best course of action for those who may have gone astray? Here are a few tips from Walters for getting back on track and achieving your goals.
Find An Activity You Enjoy — And Start Small
“The secret is really, instead of trying to do too much at once, setting smaller, easy habits — which doesn’t seem maybe as exciting or as much fun, because it’s not like, ‘Go big or go home,’ it’s more like, start small and actually do what you want to do. But it’s actually what happens and what works,” Walters says.
“There’s two things I’d recommend here: The first is to find something that you enjoy, that you really do like to do, because it doesn’t take any willpower or motivation to do the things that we like to do — think about binge-watching your favorite shows. You don’t have to sit around and be like, ‘Oh gosh, when am I going to make time to do that?’ You do it because you want to do it. So pick something you want to do, whether that’s dancing or walking or cycling, something that’s fun for you. Then set a really small goal that you can hit, like 10 minutes a day a couple of times a week, every other day, and do that for about a month so that it feels like a habit and it feels weird if you don’t do it.”
Don’t Fixate On Weight Loss
“For me, I think it’s less about weight loss and it is more about how you feel,” Walters says. “So instead of measuring your success by the number on the scale, look at, do I have more energy? Am I sleeping better? Am I less likely to get sick? Look at some of those other things on markers on how you actually feel. That’s going to keep you more motivated, because the scale can fluctuate so much based on what you eat, if you’ve gone to the bathroom, if you’re bloated — all kinds of reasons.”
As Habits Build, Have Fun With Your Newfound Fitness
“If you have that habit set, then you can just keep challenging yourself and really kind of play with it and have fun. I really recommend that people kind of look at their life and their fitness as kind of a choose your own adventure, where you can be like, ‘OK, now that I like to work out, what can me and this awesome body do?’ ” Walters says. “Maybe that’s a race, maybe that’s doing a class with your friends. But it could become really fun once you have that basis of fitness there.”
Not Seeing Quick Results? Focus On Small Improvements
“I would sit down and make a list of all of the ways in which the changes that you’ve made have benefited you. It can be anything from your self-talk, to your confidence, to your sleep, to your energy,” Walters says. “You can look at different markers, if you’ve had it tested, like your cholesterol, your blood pressure. There’s many other ways that you can define and measure success and really think about, do I feel better than I did before? If you do, then holy cow, that’s a huge, amazing change you’ve made for yourself.”
Consider Lifting Weights
“You want a good mix of getting some cardio in. But also, it’s picking up heavy things, whether that is a barbell or a dumbbell or just doing some bodyweight exercise,” Walters says. “That’s the kind of stuff, building muscle, that really improves your body composition and changes what you look like on the outside, and does amazing things for your body and your health overall.”