Are you ready to stick to your New Year's fitness resolution?

Dance lesson in Fitness Center
Credit: Creative Commons / Oleg Klementiev

Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Fitness Goals

December and January are the months of making resolutions and typically, the most popular one has to do with starting a new fitness program, whether to loss or gain some weight, or simply to improve health in general. It is the time of the year when most people start with enthusiasm working on their resolutions; however, for many reasons, only few of them will carry on and meet their goals, while others will drop the program after only a few days, or weeks. 

After being in this situation myself several times, and after finding the help of a personal trainer who has guided me through the process and taught me very valuable lessons, I wanted to share with you what I have found  essential to stick to a new fitness program, and increase the possibility of success. 

Start slowly

It may sound strange but it does make sense. When people finally start either going to the gym, or performing any kind of exercise, they want to do on that very first day, everything they haven't done in the past weeks, months, or years. Result? The next day the body ache is so unbearable that they have to spend the next three days in bed, drinking pills and rubbing ointments on their bodies. And who wants to start over again after such a horrible experience?

For this reason, it is critical to start slowly during those first days. Even if you know you can do more, run faster or longer, or lift more weights, just start conditioning your body to be able to come back for more the next day, and the day after that. At these times, less is more.

Stretch

Fitness experts always emphasize the importance of stretching. Stretching your body after your warm-up and at the end of your exercise routine will help you gain flexibility, and it will help you reduce the pain of getting muscle cramps or injuries from leaving the gym with your contracted muscles from the exercise routine. 

Eat well 

A well-balanced diet is very important to complement any fitness program. Many people in the spirit of losing as much weight in the shortest amount of time start cutting down calories and certain foods from their diet. However, it is very important to make sure to consume enough proteins, starches, vegetables, water, and all the necessary nutrients for your body to have the energy for your exercise program, and for your body to recover from each training session. For example, if you are lifting weights, your body will need more portions of proteins to help your muscles recover. Seeking the advice of a nutritionist is highly recommended. 

Get enough rest 

In addition to a good nutrition, your body will need to get enough rest to help recover. Make sure you get enough hours of sleep and avoid trying to overwork your body. Try to get one or two days to rest after each three or four consecutive days of training. 

Eliminate harmful habits 

Smoking cigarettes and drinking excessively will work against everything you want to achieve in your exercise program. Cigarettes will take away your resistance and cardiovascular condition, while drinking will add unnecessary sugars and calories that will result in added fat into your body. If you still want to have a drink or a cocktail, you may want to substitute beers and hard liquor with one glass of wine. 

Alternate exercises 

To get better results it is better to alternate your exercise routine. For example, work your arms and chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday, back and shoulders on Wednesdays, and so forth. Try to work a different set of muscles each day to avoid overworking and stressing your body resulting in muscle fatigue. I know, some of us feel like we have to do one hundred sit ups to get rid of that belly, but we don't. It is always best to combine some cardio with different abdominal muscles each day, and that way you will get better results than overworking your muscles. 

Some additional tips 

To achieve your goal is a matter of commitment. Commit to yourself and your goal. Put a picture on the fridge of how you would like to look and remember to set achievable and realistic goals. 

Taking the advice of a certified and experienced personal trainer would be the best thing to do, for they will lead you the correct way to get your desired results. But if you can't get a personal trainer, sign up in the nearest gym and their staff may usually give you a consult or orientation for you to know what you have to do and how to do it. Remember that your end results will only depend on your effort. 

Following these simple tips will ensure that you will have fewer reasons to quit your fitness program.  Good luck!