Whether you are sending your recent grad off to college, or like me, sending your baby boy to his first day of pre-school, you're about to have a lot more time on your hands. What are you going to do with it?
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If you are like many people in the United States, you've probably slacked a bit this summer, and it's time to get back to fitness. How? Let me give you four solid tips to help you do just that.
1. Renew your commitment. Think about why you want to do this. When you have a strong reason to want to make a change, you are more likely to accomplish your goal. Take the time right now to write down your goals, including why it's important and what the consequenses will be for not completing at least 80 percent of your fitness goals for the week. Make a few copies and post them in places where you will see them often.
2. Make a schedule. Getting organized and sticking to a specific action plan will not only help you to get everyone to school on time, but may just open up some small pockets of time. Your fitness times should be just as important as the rest of your daily tasks. If you schedule time for them, you are much more likely to follow through. Block off time for your workouts, and stick to it. Make appointments with yourself. It only takes two good, hard training sessions to get positive results, so plan for at least that many. If you get more than two in, reward yourself, and build more in as you can.
3. Change your nonsupportive habits. You might have developed some habits during the summer that are less than supportive to your fitness goals. Think of at least one habit from summer (sleeping in, or putting off the workout until it's cooler) and replace it with more supportive habit that helps you to reach your goals. Keep doing this until all of your non-supportive habits are gone, and you'll have completely turned your lifestyle around in a few short weeks.
4. Kick the "all or nothing" attitude. If you don't have time for a full workout, it doesn't mean that you can't do anything at all. You can find places and spaces for fitness throughout your day. Only got a few minutes? Try this alternative: Do four 4-minute "Tabatas" using bodyweight calisthenics. Alternate two noncompeting exercises, executing 20 seconds work, and 10 seconds rest for a total of eight sets (4 minutes), four times a day. This type of multi-session, short burst exercise has been shown to be almost as effective as a dedicated hour long workout session.
All in all, this can be a make- or-break point in your fitness efforts. Get it right starting now, and you'll be fully prepared for the end-of-year slacker potential. But it has to start today. Build the momentum you need here in the third quarter of the year, and you'll finish strong in the fourth.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net.