As the holiday season comes to a close, resolution season is about to heat up.
If you're starting to think about how the cookies, cakes, and egg nog took their toll on your waistline, here are a few tips to help make your return to the fitness center successful:
Give Your Body Time to Adjust
Every January, the gym swells with people sweating it out on the cardio equipment. By the time Valentine's Day rolls around, many have given up and are sitting on the couch with a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
The reason? Many people start their programs and work out way too much, way too quickly, without giving their bodies time to adjust.
Hopping off the couch after years of inactivity and jumping in with both feet and working out like a maniac leads to aches and pains and, often, injuries. When people start to hurt, they stop doing what makes them hurt.
Buck the trend by starting slowly and building up as your fitness increases. On your first day, you might be able to last only 10 minutes at a reasonable pace on the treadmill. Keep with it and increase slowly.
Your cardiovascular system, your heart and lungs will develop more quickly than your muscles. Your breathing becomes easier pretty quickly, but don't take that too far and think that your muscles and tendons have developed as fast.
A good rule of thumb is to not increase your workload more than 10 percent each week.
Have a Support System
Involve someone else in your fitness journey.
That doesn't mean they have to come with you every time, although that certainly helps and makes it more fun. But they should know your goal and your plans to reach that goal and help you stay committed.
Your support system should be responsible for keeping you honest and asking if you're doing what you need to do to get there.
Research shows that people who have the active support of those around them achieve greater, longer-lasting success. This holds true not only with a fitness program, but with anything in life.
Align Your Expectations with Reality, Not Reality TV
Too many people begin their program with visions of the astronomical numbers seen on popular TV shows, with fat melting off and muscle being added each week. After a couple of weeks, when they haven't lost double digits, they become discouraged and quit.
Don't let that be you.
If your goal is weight management, be realistic with your weight-loss expectations.
Losing one or even two pounds per week-long term is realistic and safe. You didn't put the weight on in two weeks, so why would you think you'd lose it in two weeks?
The key is to develop the habit. Make fitness part of your lifestyle and it will pay off.
Fitness and weight loss is not a short-term event—it's a lifelong pursuit.
It's time to make 2013 your best year ever!