Get this: “Planet Fitness, which charges between $10 and $20 per month, has, on average, 6,500 members per gym,” reports NPR. “Most of its gyms can only hold around 300 people. Planet Fitness can do this because it knows that members won’t show up.” While each of these gym members probably began their fitness journeys with good intentions, they aren’t consistently going to the gym. More often than not, this can be attributed to gym members not having the proper mindset from the beginning.
I sat down with Fitness Coach Annabelle Begg to learn a few tips on how to form the right mindset for any fitness journey, whether it be going to the gym more, getting more steps in, eating healthier, or sleeping longer. With these tips, you’re more likely to stay motivated, see results, and enjoy your new lifestyle.
Related link: 8 ways to commit to a healthy lifestyle
Be honest with yourself
“The first step in your fitness journey should be taking the time to be honest with yourself,” recommended Begg. “No true change can happen if you have an unhealthy diet or mindset. It shouldn’t be a punishment, but something you see as good for your body.” Take a good look at your habits to know where you’re starting from, and compare it to where you want to go. Here are some ways to gauge where you’re at:
- Keep a food journal.
Sure, you have a few treats here and there, but writing it down shows exactly where your food is going and where a few unhealthy habits might be sneaking in.
Say you’re trying to improve your heart’s health. Research the most effective habits to incorporate into your daily life. Things like vitamins, walks, and stress avoidance can make all that healthy eating and exercise even more effective.
- Think about why you really want it.
Attach some meaning to your fitness journey so you can remember why you started if things get tough. Maybe you want to feel stronger, be confident, live longer for your kids, compete in triathlons, or enjoy more outdoor activities. These thoughts can be much more empowering than simply wanting to lose weight or doing something because your doctor said so.
Determine your goal
Now that you’ve thought a little more about why you’re starting your fitness journey and what it will take to get there, it’s time to set your goals. Setting specific goals will make it easier to stay focused and track your progress. “When making personal goals or working with my clients on their goals, I create a 3-4 week plan that targets what I [or they]want,” explained Begg. This deliberate process might require a bit of trial-and-error, but will pay off in the long run. “Let’s say my goal is fat loss,” says Begg. “I’ll try to really up my reps at the gym, and then I tweak my plan as I go. It usually takes some time to figure out what works.”
Begg also recommends choosing a fitness journey you can enjoy. “Find a niche you like in order to stay motivated,” she said. Joining a new gym? Set out with a goal to find your favorite fitness class, and try a few out for the first week or two. Know you need to eat more vegetables but want new recipes to keep it interesting? Spend 15 minutes a day finding a new recipe on Pinterest to try for next week.
Keeping a healthy mindset is all about finding what’s right for you and sticking to it. “A lot of people start New Year’s resolutions and fail because they set their sights too high too soon,” said Begg. “Break down your ultimate goal into small, achievable goals you can work towards over time.”
Recognize change doesn’t happen overnight
Once the motivation has worn off, how do you stick to your fitness journey long enough to see real results? Recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight. “It takes a lot of time to see physical results,” said Begg. “Sometimes you need to focus on other, more immediate, results in the beginning, such as less bloating, more energy, or more happiness.”
A few tips to set yourself up for success on a long-term fitness journey are to set your schedule around your new habits and fuel your body. Plan each day around your workout or meal prep time so that it remains a priority. Begg warns against the common dieting habits used by many, including cutting calories or fat to an extreme—your body needs these nutrients in order to function properly.
Next Begg recommends involving family and friends. “Tell them what you’re doing and try to get them on board,” she said. “YouTube is also an awesome tool for finding motivators like Kayla Itsines. You can learn a lot from these experts and their videos.”
This is especially helpful for patients making big lifestyle changes or starting therapy programs. “We’ve noticed our rehab and therapy patients progress faster when they have a supportive team cheering them on,” said Trent Gunnell, SLP., Director of Rehab at Parke View Rehabilitation and Care Center. “Their attitude and commitment improves when they know family and friends and staff have their best interest at heart.”
Accept yourself now
This may be the hardest part of the journey—accepting yourself now. “Accepting yourself by letting go of unrealistic expectations and preconceived notions about what your ‘ideal’ body should be are often the missing link to achieving optimal health — and sanity,” says Sports Psychology Specialist Summer Innanen.
Between having a positive attitude about taking care of your body, choosing activities and foods you enjoy, and setting small goals, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for your body and your hard work, no matter where you are in your fitness journey.
Starting a new fitness journey is exciting! Keep the momentum going with a healthy mindset by using Begg’s tips, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier lifestyle in no time.
Haley Tyler is a guest contributor for 39forlife.com.