Looking to stay fit or get back in shape? It turns out, you're not alone.
Recent studies have shown that after decades of immobility, Americans are becoming more and more physically active. According to a 2015 survey, 55 percent of people polled indicated they exercised frequently, a rate that has been increasing since 2008. However, sticking with a regular routine can be difficult. Other obligations can make finding time to exercise challenging, and after "falling off the wagon," it can be hard to restart.
Fortunately for those struggling to reignite their workout fevers, Nicole Park, a family nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator at CareMount Medical, knows how to help. “Becoming fit is not about reaching the end point of a fitness journey, but about changing your mindset,” Park said. “You can set a new objective to prevent yourself from going back to old habits. Ideally, you want to take the momentum from achieving your original goal and keep it going."
Linda Do, a family nurse practitioner at CareMount Medical, also stressed the importance of acknowledging success when working out. “Congratulate yourself for accomplishing a feat that you set your mind to," Do said. "Think about how you got yourself to do this, and be in tune with what your body is telling you.”
Still struggling to give it your all? Park and Do offered their tips on how to stay motivated:
Understand your food - It's important to ask yourself, "Am I eating out of real hunger or because I’m bored? Am I feeling stressed?" It can be helpful to clarify if emotions influence when and what you eat.
Exercise is not a punishment - Group classes like CrossFit, spinning and Zumba create communities and provide encouragement. Apps like MyFitnessPal help track and share your progress with friends and family.
Track your diet and activities - Dividing daily calorie intake into six small meals and developing a predictable eating schedule can help keep hunger at bay.
Set realistic goals - Short-term weight and exercise goals are key. Long-term goals are important, but they tend to frustrate people. When losing weight, try dropping 1-2 pounds a week rather than working towards a larger number.
Make it Fun - Routines can get boring. Give yourself rewards such as buying a new pair of athletic shorts or leggings after meeting a certain fitness goal. Change up your workout playlist every month and involve friends, coworkers and family in a fitness activity to keep things exciting.
“Staying fit is not just about wanting to fit into your swimsuit for the summer," said Park. "That mindset will always get you off track. The ultimate goal is to continue to look for ways to keep feeling healthy."
For more information on how to keep your body in top shape, click here.