Is Your Fitness Routine Sustainable? Answer These 5 Questions


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Like any major industry, fitness is overwhelmed by trends.  Late night infomercials for at-home fitness equipment, breakthrough DVD series, new training techniques, gyms and classes that everyone is talking about…..the list goes on and on.  While one can argue that anything that gets you off the couch and into the gym is a good thing, a trend by definition is bound to be more stylish than sustainable.

How does your fitness routine stack up?  Are you in it for the long haul, or are you doomed to a lifetime of fitness-themed New Year’s resolutions?  Ask yourself these 5 questions to find out.

Does your program have an end date or an easy out?

Think about that 10-session personal training package that you’ll find every excuse not to renew when June rolls around.  The DVD series promising results in 90 days – what then?  The home gym that folds neatly under your bed is out of sight and out of mind.  If the fitness program offers you an easy ‘out’ right from the start, chances are you’ll take it in the end.  Fitness doesn’t have an end date, and neither should your fitness program.

Does the program guarantee short term results?  

A claim of short term results is simply a marketing ploy created to sell you on the program.  The claims might be true for some, but your own results will depend exclusively on your dedication to the program and the unique way that your body responds.  Also, and most importantly, the quicker that your results are achieved, the more quickly they are likely to be lost once the program has concluded.   It’s OK to set short-term goals, but seek to make your improvements over the longer term within the context of a program that you can maintain indefinitely.

You can afford it now, but what about later?

As the expense of a program adds up, so will your reasons to drop out should your finances begin to tighten up.  Monthly gym memberships are relatively low-cost for most people, but think carefully before building a fitness program around more expensive commitments such as personal training, a second gym membership for that class that you want to take, and home equipment.  The same rule can be applied to time; you may have time for your program now, but can you adapt if your schedule changes?

Could the program cause injury or discomfort?  

If you haven’t run in years and embark on an aggressive regimen of morning runs, you could be sidelined with shin splints or knee problems.  Always consider potential injuries that could end your fitness plans before you’ve even started and start small to prevent injury.  You must also consider the level of discomfort that you’re willing to endure. While it’s expected to tough out at least a modicum of sweat, fatigue and muscle soreness after a workout (especially in the beginning), any activity that causes you misery, embarrassment, or dread fails the sustainability test.  Find something that’s both challenging and rewarding.

Do you have enough energy? 

If you’re jumping into twice-a-day cardio and workout sessions but your eating and sleeping habits still need some work, your body may not be able to provide the energy necessary to support your new activity level.  Exhaustion and fitness are not friends.  Start with something more manageable and take the time to clean up your diet and sleep patterns, if necessary.

The moral of the story?  It’s OK to start small!  Programs fail when we add elements of fitness to our lives that we can’t sustain for one reason or another.  Start with small changes and add new ones only when you’re 100% positive that the previous changes can be maintained indefinitely.

Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet/supplement plan.

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