January isn't even over, but already, many who made those New Year's fitness resolutions are discovering their promises to exercise more and eat better can be hard to keep. Some simple steps can help you keep on the path to success, according to Dr. Janice Jewett, associate professor in Pittsburg State University's Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation.
The first piece of advice Jewett offers is to make your goals manageable.
"When thinking about your goal or goals, you must start small, but think big," Jewett said. "An acronym that I teach in my classes is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Meaning specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time limit."
Write it down
A common mistake people make is relying on memory.
"A great way to stay motivated is to tell others about your goal to help hold you accountable, and also writing them (goals) down where it's in front of you every day is also helpful," Jewett said. "Journaling is also a very effective technique to keep you on track."
Overcoming the pitfalls of a busy schedule
One of the most common threats to an effective exercise regimen, Jewett said, is the over-full schedule.
"My advice to those who have busy schedules is to choose something you enjoy, enlist a friend to join you, and exercise at the same time every day or most days, if possible," Jewett said. She added that early mornings might be the best time to squeeze in time for exercise.
Motivation through measurement
Jewett said fitness assessment is a good motivator to keep up your fitness routine. A fitness assessment includes a series of measurements that help determine a person's physical fitness. Knowing where your current physical fitness status can not only help you set goals, but also help you track your progress.
Mom was right
Jewett said your mother was right. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
"Breakfast is extremely important," Jewett said. "It helps speed up metabolism and level out blood sugar, which helps a person maintain a healthy weight and keep excess weight off in the long term."
While skipping breakfast may save a few calories, it will do much more harm than good when it comes to helping you lead a healthier lifestyle.
Finally, Jewett said, don't let an occasional setback deter you from your goals.
"Better physical fitness is a long-term lifestyle goal," Jewett said. "Very few people are 100 percent successful in reaching their fitness goals the first time they try. When you get off track, don't waste time and energy beating yourself up. Regroup, refocus, lace up your sneakers and get back on that treadmill, bicycle or track."
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