It's no surprise that in January, everyone resolves to get healthy or start working out.
That's why there are so many good deals this month on gym memberships.
It's great if you can get to the gym or commit to working out regularly at home, but beyond taking that first step, how do you motivate yourself to still be the one going to the gym when all the other people who joined in January have stopped coming?
People are good at change, but not good at sustaining or maintaining that motivation, said Scott Crabiel, a personal training coordinator for the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Lifestyles Stow and Bath campuses.
Crabiel, who is also a certified wellness coach, said one of the biggest things people need to figure out is where that workout will fit into their busy lifestyles.
“It's interesting how the flip of the calendar motivates people,” Crabiel said.
Open your calendar and identify when you can exercise and what time you can commit to it.
Here's a few tips from Crabiel to get started – and continue – exercising:
1. Find positive motivation.
It could be for health reasons; perhaps a doctor told you that you need to exercise, or you're frustrated by something.
If you woke up on Jan. 2 and couldn't button your favorite jeans, you're motivated, Crabiel said. But that's not a positive motivator. While it will cause you to take action, it's not likely you will sustain that action.
“As soon as the pants begin to fit, your motivation is gone and a lot of times people fall back into old habits,” he said. “Or some people give it a half-hearted attempt and, once they get discouraged, they say, ‘I guess I'm just one of those people who can't lose weight,' and quit.”
A better question to ask is: Why do you want to exercise?
“I'm a summer recreational golfer, but I did work out this morning,” Crabiel said. “I do things to optimize my golf game and I was visualizing myself playing golf.”
2. Find a social network.
Surround yourself with people and you thrive off that energy, Crabiel said. Add new friends and environments, whether it be at a fitness center or Facebook chats, online groups or finding a running buddy. If you are going to work out at home, make yourself accountable by telling friends and family. Coaches, trainers or workout buddies can also be helpful.
My workout buddy and I push each other to get to the gym and, even though our schedules right now aren't meshing to work out together as often, we still check in with each other. My husband and I also hold each other accountable for our fitness routines.
At the beginning of any workout regimen or workout buddy relationship, it's always new, exciting and easy, Crabiel said.
“But [by] about week two or three, then life shows up and you get sick or the kids get sick and you have to go out of town for business. I call that emotional turbulence. You need systems in place that are going to be able to get you back on track,” he said.
3. Make it repetitive.
It can take as long as six months to make something become a habit, but just keep plugging away, said Crabiel. Eventually, “you don't think about it. That's the ultimate and the holy grail of good behaviors. Now it's not what you do, it's just who you are and who you are as a person.”
I went through a period where I didn't exercise. Several years ago, one of my sisters chided me, telling me that I needed to get active. For a while, I was doing a dance exercise class. Then I started going to a gym and encouraged my husband to come with me. Several years later, we now regularly work out several times a week. We go at different times because of our schedules, but it's still something we can share by talking about it later in the day. It's become a habit and honestly, it feels strange when I don't go to the gym in the morning.
4. Don't focus on the outcome.
If you're only focusing on say, losing weight, it can be demotivating, Crabiel said. Focus on the behavior or the thing you need to do to reach the outcome.
Find something you love to do, he said. Crabiel had a client whom he hadn't seen in two to three months. His physique looked better. The client said he had found a fencing club and had added that to his resistance training and a better diet.
“He found something he really enjoyed. If you enjoy it you will really go back,” Crabiel said.
No body is alike
A note about weight loss and weight gain in muscle: Crabiel said as people age, they lose muscle mass, so working out increases muscle and bone density, among other positives for your body.
Crabiel said the lack of weight loss for some people can be frustrating after they start exercising. But it depends on your body type and whether you have more body fat to lose.
“The big message is if we have a 300-pound person who has 40 percent body fat, their total potential (weight loss) could be eight to 10 pounds per week. Let's say we have a lean woman who is 142 pounds and 23 percent body fat. Her potential might only be 0.75 pounds,” Crabiel said. “The ladies get frustrated that their husbands are losing weight at a larger rate. The primary factor with most women is their husbands are heavier than they are and have more potential.”
5. Once you establish a habit, make sure to take time for rest.
Crabiel said the right amount of exercise varies by person, but some is better than none.
There's usually a ceiling effect at seven hours of activity a week. When working with a client, Crabiel said he aims for three to five hours per week.
It's also important to have a rest day or to do something restorative or relaxing, like yoga.
“We need restoration and relaxation. It's a critical component to having good wellness,” he said.
Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty