January 1 is the worst day to start a new fitness journey.
If you’re like me, you love the possibility of transformation…changing something I don’t like about myself into something shiny and new. Fitness offers the hope of feeling better and doing life better. All I have to do is intentionally move more and push my body a little harder.
It’s exciting and the start of a new year feels like the perfect time to make that change. January 1 might be the Feel Good Day of the entire year!
The challenge is that January 17 is just a little more than two weeks away. That’s the date most new year’s goals, including fitness, have crashed and burned. The excitement I felt on January 1 has slowly ebbed away each day until it’s totally gone. Where’s my motivation now?
Feelings are a terrible motivator. Oh, they feel great on January 1. They’re so strong I feel like I can accomplish anything! But, they never last. Only 8% of all goals are ever achieved. To be a part of this elite group you need something more than your feelings.
You need a commitment to build an exercise habit the right way. Here are five ways to do that.
PICK A DAY
One of the best ways to fuel your goal with as little emotion as possible is NOT start on a day that FEELS like the perfect day to start. January 1 is such a day. So is the first day of any month or the first day of a new season. It’s best to pick a day that actually feels random.
DRAIN THE EMOTION
Pick a start day at least a week or two from when you make the decision. Use these pre-start days to let the excitement you feel now slowly ebb before you actually start. But, even more importantly, it’ll give you the opportunity to confront the obstacles that have made fitness hard for you.
If you have a super busy day, you’ll be able to think through how to not let your schedule derail your fitness commitment. Same thing if you’re tired. How will you keep your commitment on those days? Spend at least a week (four weeks is best) thinking through how you’ll keep your fitness commitment when you don’t feel like it.
Once you reach your start date you will have worked through a lot of the emotional hurdles you’ll be facing once you start.
It’s easy to set a robust exercise goal when our emotions are high. “This time,” we reason with ourselves, “will be different!” We tell ourselves “We’re all in” and set a big goal. Of course, once the emotions fade, that big goal feels like a mountain.
Instead, set a small goal that is easy to keep as you build a new habit. Once your habit is set you start to create fitness momentum. That’s when fitness truly starts becoming an enjoyable part of your daily life.
But, it’s important to set a small and manageable goal to get started. Walking is the perfect exercise to start a new fitness journey. If you can walk a mile in 20 minutes, the CDC considers that a moderate pace and it’s exercise. If you can’t walk at that pace, creating a daily walking habit will increase your exercise capacity so you can eventually reach that speed.
I’ve created a free guide to help you transform your walking into a fitness activity. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you set a daily goal that is perfect for you to sustain and build on for years to come.
MAKE A COMMITMENT
I want to be a man of my word. If I say I’m going to do something, I want the people in my world to have the confidence I will do that. Sadly, one of the hardest people for me to keep my promises to is myself.
One of the ways I am changing this is to actually sign a contract to myself. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but a written document spelling out my promise that I sign has made the difference on days when it feels hard to keep my commitment to myself.
The 30 Day Fitness Challenge includes a contract you can make with yourself.
The bottom line, is to create a fitness journey that lasts and eventually leads to transformation you’ll need to make a commitment to yourself that is not based on how you feel. If this has been a challenge for you in the past, I would recommend you download this free guide and use the contract.
CELEBRATE YOUR WIN EVERY DAY
Relying on emotions as a consistent motivator for exercise is dangerous. But, feeling good about your accomplishments is good. Every day you reach your step goal is a win. Those wins should be celebrated every day. Maybe not with a full-on party (although, if that’s your thing, have at it) but, at least with a simple acknowledgment that you kept your commitment to yourself.
An effective way to do this is with a 90 Day Win Tracker. This tracker allows you to see your daily goal and log your steps each day for 90 days. It becomes powerful visual record of the progress you’re making and gives you the opportunity to simply celebrate each day’s win.
WHAT TO DO TODAY
If you let fitness slack during the pandemic and you’re ready to restart, there’s not better day than today. If you’ve never had a fitness journey that stuck, there’s no better day to get started than today! If you want to make an investment into your health, there’s no better day to get started than today!
- Download The 30 Day Fitness Challenge to determine your starting goal
- Pick a start day at least a week away and start draining the emotion today
- Make a commitment and sign your contract
- Download your 90 Day Win Tracker to celebrate your daily progress