If your New Year’s resolution to get regular exercise is waning, there are a number of ways you can maintain your momentum, a nutrition expert says.
First, you need to have realistic goals, said Emily Dhurandhar, visiting assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University.
“Self-efficacy, or confidence in the fact that you can achieve something, is a large part of sticking to a fitness regimen. When setting your goals, stick to what you know, since self-efficacy usually comes from having done something before successfully, and make sure you are 100 percent confident it is something you can achieve,” she said in a university news release.
“You are in this for the long haul, and consistency is the name of the game. Running 1 mile a day for a year is much better than trying to run 3 miles a day and quitting after the first month,” Dhurandhar added.
Thinking that exercise alone will help you shed large amounts of weight could lead to frustration and disappointment. Physical activity needs to be combined with other lifestyle changes, she said.
“Exercise without any other significant changes in diet usually only produces a few pounds of weight loss,” Dhurandhar said. “Instead, look for results in your energy levels, your mood, your strength and physical functioning, and inches lost. Even consider the fact that exercise plays a big role in maintaining body weight and consider that weight maintenance can be a victory.”
For those who are trying to shed pounds, she suggests talking with a dietitian to make sustainable changes in your eating habits that go beyond fads.
Feeling anxious or depressed is one of the main reasons people give up on exercise programs. If you have concerns about your mental health, consider being evaluated by a professional, Dhurandhar said.
She also recommends getting the support of family and friends and setting aside the necessary time for your workout program.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.