Avoiding the transition from January jump-start to February fade-away

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

If you spend enough time in a gym, you begin to notice a yearly pattern that occurs without fail.  Every January 2nd, new members flood into the Fitness Center, goals in their minds and smiles on their eager faces.  By the time February rolls around, however, more than half of these individuals, who had the best of intentions last month, will never again be seen in the gym. What happens in just one month’s time is no great mystery: motivation fades away.

Improving one’s level of wellness is undoubtedly among the most common of New Year’s resolutions. Had one resolved instead to remain dedicated to a wellness ideal, to keep motivation going once the year got underway and other activities began to compete for time and attention, the outcome might be very different.

Staying motivated requires a tremendous amount of discipline; it also demands that we plan ahead. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you find your resolve weakening:

– Know Your Personal Biorhythm: Each of us has a time of day when we feel more energetic. This is the time to harness your innate energy and plan to be at the gym. My husband works out at 5:30am; I am at my best with strength-training closer to 7:30 am. Feel out what times of the day you seem most focused and alert, and rearrange your activities so that you can take advantage of this workout window of opportunity.

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– Devise A Pre-Workout Pick-Me-Up: Think about how you might snap yourself into “exercise mode”. For some individuals, this means simply waking up, enjoying that cup of coffee, and putting on clothes that are reserved only for the gym. Some may choose to prepare a pre-workout meal and will use that time to gather up the necessary mental acuity that will drive the energy upon arriving at the gym. Still others select the ideal playlist with music that will motive them at the gym. Whatever ritual you choose, utilize that time to push away the thoughts of the day and focus on your goals.

– Positive Posturing: Body language is a powerful metaphor.  If your carriage is comprised of sagging shoulders and dragging feet, your mind will soon catch up and leave you with a diminished desire to accomplish anything.  Upright posture, on the other hand, with your shoulders back and your chin up, will convey to the world that you feel confident about who you are and where you are heading. As you walk into the gym, lift yourself up to a higher level than you may feel at that moment; before you know it, the workout will reward you with renewed energy and a positive outlook.

Armed with just these few tools, you stand a much better chance of sticking around the gym well past February. Keep those goals in your heart, and you will be a winner every time.