You haven’t seen the gym since … when?
You made that New Year’s plan to lose weight, which included regularly working out. Now it’s July and the last time you exercised was _ (fill in the blank and proceed to be mortified). So, after the first few weeks of going strong why did you, and the other 50 percent who fell off the wagon, stop exercising?
In a 1995 report of United States Department of Health and Human Services, it was reported that 50 percent of people who started an exercise program dropped out within six months. That means the other 50 percent maintained their program and reaped the benefits of achieving weight goals, improved self-esteem, less illnesses, lower depression rates, better sex, improved cognitive function … I could go on.
As a group fitness instructor and personal trainer for close to 15 years, I have witnessed a wide range of reasons why people don’t maintain a consistent exercise program. The foremost issue is time constraints. If you’re a working parent, having enough time to wash your hair can be a daunting task. Time really becomes precious if you’re a single parent managing a household.
Many employers now offer fitness facilities; taking them up on their offer to keep you healthy can help you find those precious minutes. Giving up two or three lunchtimes per week is an invaluable opportunity to stick to your workout plan and not take time away from the family. It will probably keep you from overeating at lunchtime, as well as help you choose healthier food items to complement your workout mindset.
If there’s no gym at work, take a lunchtime walk. Wearing a pedometer will motivate you to get out and challenge yourself to increase your step goals. Hey, you’ve got to take the time from somewhere, so why not make time at work?
Another popular reason for not working out is a lack of results. Although people feel better after starting a workout plan, they may find that they haven’t lost any weight and get discouraged. If this puts you in the 50 percent fail category, it’s a matter of making changes to get back on track and see those results.
If weight loss is your goal and you’re not seeing results, you may need to adjust the intensity level of your workout. That leisurely stroll on the treadmill cost you an hour of time with no weight-loss benefits. If working out regularly fits in your schedule, get back in the gym. This time, increase the speed/incline combo that’s going to get you utterly exhausted in just 15 to 20 minutes. Add resistance training to the workout mix, and the results will have you coming back for more. If you’ve been taking the same Zumba class with the same instructor for the past two months, your body is probably so conditioned to the routines that it barely gets you sweating. Change your cardio workouts up by taking a spin class to confuse your muscles and rev up the metabolism.
There’s another big reason for falling off the wagon: “I missed a few days and got off track (discouraged).” At one point or another we all get off track when going after our goals. Remind yourself of other goals you were able to reach despite getting off track. Issues got in the way of a work project, but you made it happen by working around them. Or, you purchased your home despite myriad issues that came up during the mortgage process. Missing a few workouts is a minor obstacle to accomplishing your weight loss and quality of life goals.
A fun strategy for keeping your eyes on the prize is to reward yourself with a massage, facial, golf outing or some other treat when you reach a step in your goal. If you miss a few days, you’ll be raring to make up for it to get closer to that full body massage!