It takes commitment and dedication to start a fitness resolution and stick with it. Photo credit: Karolina Johnson.

People are loathe to admit that they care about New Year’s resolutions, but it is not a coincidence that hordes of well-intentioned souls materialize on treadmills and in cardio classes in early January.

It’s great that so many people decide to make themselves better, to take control of their health and to improve their well-being. The problem is that, come the middle of the January, many of the new worker-outers have returned to their old sedentary habits. By February, injuries and unnecessary soreness claim more newbies. By March, everything is back to normal in the fitness centers.

There doesn’t have to be such a terrible attrition rate.

Here are some strategies that I have picked up over the years and some expert advice from a local personal trainer, Karolina Johnson, that will encourage you to continue with your fitness goals well past the first of the year:

1. Start now

The flip of a calendar is symbolic but, when it comes down to it, arbitrary. One day is as good as the next. If you want to increase your chances of sticking to your goals, slowly build up a head of steam so that you already feel good come Jan. 1.

2. Spend money

If you pay for a fitness club membership or an entry fee for a springtime running race, you will have fiscal encouragement to stay with your plan. This, more than anything, works for me. Once, when I was getting run down, I bought a pair of running shoes. The newness was enough for a week of running — and that was enough to get my head back into the game.

3. Start slow

You may want to lose 10 kilograms, but that is a big hill to climb, especially if your exercise over the past few months has consisted entirely of walking to the closest tram stop.

“People who are coming out of not doing anything for a long time, years or even months, are in a deconditioned state,” said Johnson, a Brno native who just returned after several years of training a wide range of clients in the United States. “Just throwing yourself into a full exercise routine you found somewhere on the internet is mostly a recipe for disaster. The connective tissue and the muscles are not ready for that kind of a load and the body goes into kind of a shock survival mode.”

Establishing stepping-stone goals can help. Don’t think of it as “Lose 10 kg!” Think of it as lose a kilo a month or have three good workouts in one week. Mental framing can make all of the difference.

4. Friends

Social pressure, even if it is a tiny bit, can go a long way. A workout partner provides an incentive to keep going. There are also social media groups you can join for motivation, although stay away from sites that promote extreme weight loss.

If I’m honest, though, I don’t actually incorporate this strategy often. I more enjoy listening to a podcast over talking with someone else and I need the freedom to workout whenever I can squeeze it in. That can work, too.

5. Do it

Don’t skip too many workouts. You would be surprised at how often a sluggish day at the office magically turns into a great workout and a fantastic rest of the day. It doesn’t happen all the time, but, in my experience, it happens much more than half the time. It is counterintuitive, but the more tired I am, the better my workout.

That said, if you are really beat, take the day off. Just don’t be too easy on yourself. At least start a workout. If it isn’t working, cut it short and take a nap instead.

6. Keep a diary

The best part of every workout is writing down the kilometers you ran or the sets and reps that you lifted or the minutes of cardio that you completed. Get a schedule book and dedicate it to keeping your growing totals. Count it all up every Sunday and at the end of every month. That, to me, is motivation to keep going.

What you’ll find is that you never seem to remember the terrible workouts. Those are fleeting despite the temporary pain.

7. Professional help

There are many trainers and conditioning professionals around Brno.

“I think the No. 1 reason to get a trainer is when you are unsure of what to do in the gym and you need someone to show you how to properly exercise without getting hurt,” said Johnson. Click here for more information.

There are many fitness centers around Brno that can be found with a quick Google search. There are also many running races, rock climbing facilities, pools and, of course, sidewalks to walk and jog upon.

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