September, like January, is the month of good resolutions … and joining the gym! There are many people who after the holidays intend to improve their physical condition and their health. A high percentage of them join a gym and even start a training routine.
Now, as the weeks and months go by, the days get shorter and winter approaches, laziness grows, the excuses to skip the visit to the gym or postpone it until the next day multiply, and the training rooms empty. Why happens? How can we avoid it? What is the key to not abandoning the training routine throughout the year?
The physical trainers and psychologists asked about it are unanimous: “Habits are built by repeating actions.” Therefore, the key is not to stay in the fact of deciding to get in shape and go to the gym for a few days but to repeat and repeat that action. And that requires discipline or what some call “willpower.”
That willpower can be trained and improved, but the best way to exercise it, to be able to count on it, is to activate it when the purpose really motivates us. When what you are looking to achieve really has a meaning for you”, in the words of Mireia Cabero, one of the psychologists consulted. Therefore, the first step if you do not want to leave the gym on the first change is to make sure that training routine, taking care of yourself, and getting fit, are important and make sense for you.
Of course, in addition to being clear that going to the gym is not only desirable but that you really want to. It is necessary to set realistic goals. The physical trainers and sports psychologists consult explain that the revolution is long-term and you don’t have to want to do it in September. Because then you go into work and family routines and come face to face with harsh reality.
Therefore, instead of ambitioning big goals and daily training. It may be better to make a small, simple proposal, and see if it is an achievement if it works. If by dint of repeating it is incorporated as a habit in our routines. If so, then we can consider another; and later another. And in this way, not only will we not resign, but in one year a great deal will have been achieved.
When defining realistic purposes, it is also important to choose the activities that best suit our needs and lifestyle, which can be continued throughout the year. Which is consistent with our physical condition.
Anticipate solutions for moments of weakness
But no matter how realistic the objectives are, meeting them always requires effort. So it is advisable to think carefully about what strategies we propose to achieve them. What difficulties we can anticipate and how to solve them. If we are clear in advance of many of the “foreseeable” unforeseen events and temptations that can take us away from our purpose – for example, those many days that we will leave work later. That we will go to bed late and we will be lazy to get up early, that a friend will propose to us have a coffee or a beer at gym time. We think about how to overcome them. It will take less effort to stay true to our routine and the chances of dropping out will be reduced.
When a goal or task is difficult, one solution is to break it down into more affordable parts. In the same way, setting small challenges or short-term goals – running 3 kilometers, lifting X kilos, maintaining the routine for three months … – can be the incentive to continue our sessions and routines in the gym throughout the year. In addition, small goals require planning and smaller actions to achieve them. It is easier to appreciate our physical progress and that, on a psychological level, motivates and encourages us to continue.
Setting small and realistic goals also allows us to celebrate achievements, recognize the effort made. That reward helps renew motivation and makes it easier for our willpower not to decline, so it also keeps us from abandoning.
Neither self-indulgent nor uncompromising
To maintain our purpose of exercising regularly throughout the year, we must not be self-indulgent, but neither are we uncompromising. No matter how committed we are to our goal and no matter how well we have a plan. We will surely have a moment of weakness that takes us away from it and the important thing, in that case. Is not to get frustrates or throw in the towel, to assume our non-compliance as something punctual, not definitive.
It’s not a matter of blaming yourself or feeling incompetent for skipping the gym one day. But it’s not about forgiving yourself for not going every two to three days. The best strategy, say the psychologists consulted, is not to give much importance to daily success or failure. But to judge the effort “by packages”, based on partial, temporary achievements.
And if the achievements that one sets out not achieved the first time, or if it is the price for a few weeks. The frustration must management so as not to abandon. The important thing is to learn from mistakes. Plan how to overcome the situations that have separated us from our training routine so that next time we can do it differently.
Physical activity experts assure that training accompanied is a very important motivating factor. First of all, because that way the gym routine becomes a social activity. But also because the existence of a second person prevents the activity from being abandoned without further ado. It is easier for each other to overcome moments of weakness and continue.
Having the advice of a personal trainer can also help us to commit more to our exercise routines. Because there are people who motivate themselves very well. But for others, motivation has a lot to do with the recognition of others. In addition, we all tend to try a little more if we have to be accountable to someone. Having a coach makes it easier to evaluate progress and adjust the activity to make it more effective and appropriate for each one. And all of that fuels motivation.