Whether you are already fit or only starting to get in shape, chances are that you probably have some fitness goals. You may have noticed that the enthusiasm you had when you had first set up your fitness goals started to somewhat taper off as the weeks go on. In addition, you may find yourself losing focus and failing to achieve the milestones you had envisioned for yourself. All sorts of health goals, including eating a more balanced diet, increasing muscle mass, running your first 5K or even half-marathon can be achieved if you choose the right approach to follow through on your plans. If you are stuck in a fitness slump, here are some tips and tricks to get you back on track.
- Track your progress
Keeping track of your progress is essential to know if your fitness routine is working for you. In addition, recording your progress helps you stay motivated and brings you closer to your goals, one step at a time. What should you be keeping track of? It is generally a good idea to keep a record of your food habits and your workouts. Taking some notes on what you are eating can be helpful to gain some perspective on your diet, and to see if there is any room for improvement. Keeping track of the exercises you performed can help you stay focused on your fitness goals, and make it easier to remember details such as the weights you used and the number of repetitions you did. You may also find taking progress photos, or “workout selfies,” can help you visualize the changes in your body over time. Just remember that according to fitness studies, stepping on a scale won’t always give you an accurate idea of your progress. Instead, a useful technique to track your progress is to measure your thighs, hips and biceps — since muscle takes up less space than fat, this is a good way to see how you are advancing in your fitness plans. In addition, keeping a record of your waist-to-hip (WHP) ratio is another method to assess your fitness level, with the ideal ratio being 0.85 or lower.
2. Examine your eating habits
If you have been working hard at achieving your fitness goals, but are nowhere near your desired results, it is time to get a close look at your diet. Poor eating habits will interfere with your fitness progress, and it is very important to choose the right foods. General diet recommendations for nutritionally-balanced meals include avoiding processed foods, as well as foods high in fat and sugar.
In addition, it is not recommended to eat late at night, rush through your meals and eat at irregular intervals. On the other hand, nutritionists recommend eating a similar number of meals and snacks each day, being careful not to snack out of boredom, and paying attention to the quantity of food you eat. Keeping healthy snacks available within reach at work and at home can help to reduce unhealthy snacking in between meals. Examples of healthy snacks to stock up on include fruit, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and whole-grain foods.
3. Set up realistic expectations
In order to successfully reach your fitness goals, it is necessary to be realistic about your expectations. Setting up fitness goals that are overly ambitious will likely lead you to disappointment and loss of motivation. According to fitness experts, your goals need to be clear and specific. For instance, specific goals include how much you want to lift, what distance you would like to run, or exactly how much weight you would like to lose. In addition, your fitness goals need to be measurable and attainable — you need to be realistic about whether you can achieve your goal within the time period you give yourself. For instance, if you have not exercised in years, it is not reasonable to expect that you will start running for an hour every day. Setting a timeframe is equally important as setting realistic goals — it helps you organize your time better and to set up milestones to reach along the way.
4. Analyze your obstacles
Keeping in mind the obstacles to your fitness goals is crucial when deciding and planning your fitness goals. We all have important commitments that can’t drop, and these include social, professional and personal obligations. It is, therefore, important to plan your workout routine and fitness goals around these commitments, and not the other way around. A recent study reveals that when its participants planned their fitness goals, they based their plans on ideal conditions, and ended up achieving less than they predicted because they didn’t factor in other important activities that distracted them from their goals. Experts’ advice? Be realistic about your distractors, and plan your fitness goals accordingly. Even if you have limited time to go to the gym, you should still make the effort, since doing a shorter session is better than doing nothing at all.
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Fitness goals don’t always go as planned — This is what you do was originally published in Think Tank by NeuroGum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.