Every year I make a new resolution that this is the year that I’m going to stick to my new exercise program for the long haul. And every year I start out strongly only to give up a few weeks later and I know I’m not the only one. So why is this? Why do we start with good intentions only to drop out before we even see any changes to our bodies?
Most often people are full of enthusiasm which gets them through the first week or so but after that goes away and they still haven’t lost 20 pounds by the weekend their expectations are shattered by the reality that it really is hard to lose weight. Despite what many gyms and diet programs will tell you, you can’t expect to lose large numbers of weight in the short term. Television shows like The Biggest Loser give us unrealistic ideas of what is possible and when we begin to only see slow results we start to wonder if all the effort is worth it.
The good news is that by having realistic expectations you can be successful with your exercise program. Start slowly and gradually incorporate exercise into your lifestyle so that the changes happen over a period of weeks rather than days. This also allows you to build up your exercise gradually so you are moving at levels that feel comfortable to you.
The best way to do this is to start at a low intensity for around a month until your body starts adjusting to your new level of activity. Walking is a good start for most people since it’s free and is just a matter of stepping outside and committing to 20 or 30 minutes of your time. Then once you start to feel good about including walking into your routine you can start to incorporate more challenging exercises such as weight training or an exercise video for a bit of variety.
Always make sure to allow a couple of rest days each week to allow your body to recover and rebuild any muscle it needs to. Rest days also keep your mind fresh so you can maintain motivation for the next day’s activities.
You don’t have to become an exercise dropout. By starting slowly and building up the amount of exercise you do gradually you can be sure that you’ll stick to your new exercise program over the long term and pretty soon you’ll start to see the weight melt away and your health and fitness improve.