At the beginning of every year many try to start a fitness journey. However, around 80% of the people who made them will have dropped their resolutions by February — and many of those individuals didn’t even make it past January 19. One major reason for this is a lack of a good fitness plan. One that will not only ensure the best results, but one that is designed for longevity. People often see fitness as a short-term fix, but this is rarely the case. A good fitness plan is one that is continuous and evolves as your fitness levels improve.
Below are some general tips to help you create a long-term fitness plan:
Identify your goals
Your goal should be more than just to “be healthy.” You can give it more specificity by saying you want to lose weight or build lean muscle mass. And you can narrow it even more by creating SMART goals — which stands for Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. So instead of saying “I want to lose weight,” say “I want to lose 10 pounds in three months.” It’s specific since it’s something by which you can determine success or failure. It’s measurable since you can track progress. It’s attainable, assuming it’s what you need to lose to be at a healthy weight. It’s relevant, since losing weight can lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It’s also time-bound, so you have a deadline to work towards. Once you complete one goal you will be more motivated to move onto the next, which will allow your fitness plan to keep evolving.
Choose your workouts well
People typically start out being very enthusiastic about their fitness goals. However, going all out, especially if you’re not used to a lot of physical activity, can get you injured. So when designing your fitness plan, it is important to start easy. Having a mindset that it is not a sprint will remove a lot of pressure. If your goal is related to building muscle mass, then begin with weights that you can lift up to 15 times with proper form. If you are looking to lose weight, start with cardio exercises that only slightly challenge you. Rushing weight and cardio training can easily lead to sustaining an injury, which is a big reason why people don’t complete their long-term fitness goals.
Consider your diet
When creating a long-term fitness plan, you should also have a diet that complements your exercise to better achieve your fitness goals. For instance, if you want to lose weight you need to reduce your calorie intake slowly. However, it’s important that you don’t ban foods, since this will only make you crave them more. You can enjoy your favourite junk food or sweets once in a while as long as you don’t overindulge or stock up on them. A long-term fitness plan is really a lifestyle change and your diet needs to represent this, without completely removing everything you love from your diet. Moderation will keep you motivated over the long months.
Consult a medical professional
When starting out on a fitness journey it is best to consult a healthcare practitioner, especially if you are older or have a medical condition. A fitness plan needs to be safe, and they will be able to advise you on what you can and can’t do. When getting a health check up at a clinic or hospital a nurse will be your first port of call. The good news is that you can get this advice at home through remote practitioners. Today, nurses across the globe are now trained in digital practices such as remote monitoring and consultations, which will save you a trip to the doctors or the hospital. There are specialised remote nurse practitioners who offer health and wellness advice, particularly for those who may suffer from a condition like GERD, diabetes, UTI, hypertension, or asthma. By being honest about your goals and your long-term plans they will be able to give you options and advice that you can then take to a personal trainer or implement yourself. If you feel unsafe when exercising you won’t complete your long-term plan.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress is essential when implementing long-term goals. This makes it more likely for you to reach your goal by motivating you on how far you’ve come. Tracking helps you stay committed by keeping you focused on the direction of your plans. It also lends accountability to you and your goals. Everyone has different ways of tracking their progress. There are a number of health and fitness apps that can track your calories and weight, among other things. Or you may prefer pen-and-paper journaling to make the progress feel more solid by writing it down. The biggest benefit for this over the long-term will be being able to see how your fitness has improved, which will act as a huge motivator.
If you have faltered in your long-term fitness plan, or are considering starting one, we hope this article proves useful.