This article was last updated on June 25, 2020.
Have you recently decided to make a lifestyle change? Signing up for a race or simply wanting to add movement into your life is a big first step. If you’re having trouble getting started or don’t know where to begin, use this guide to help you start and achieve your fitness goal.
Step 1: Set your goal and write it down
Ever wonder how some of the most successful people got to where they are now? Chances are, they set a goal and stuck to it. A fitness goal can be anything from finishing a race or choosing to take the stairs rather than the elevator.
Before beginning your fitness journey, it’s important to know that no one is built the same and we all respond to exercises differently. This is why activity goals can be more than just logging a bunch of miles or joining a CrossFit® gym. If you are not used to a fitness routine, you can — and should — start small.
Once you've set your goal, write it down. According to a Huffington Post article External Site, if you write down your goal, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve that goal. Some of the best athletes rely on this technique to achieve their goals. In addition to writing it down, you could share your goal with friends or family to help with accountability.
If you are participating in Wellmark's Grand Blue Mile External Site, you can use it to inspire your fitness goal. You should make your goal specific and measurable. This could be finishing the mile in a certain amount of time, placing in the top three of your age group, or getting your family to walk the mile with you.
Step 2: Forget the excuses and just do it
You don't have the time, you're not coordinated, you're too tired, you don't have someone to hold you accountable — any of these excuses sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. We’ve all made excuses when it comes to exercising. To get past the excuses, it’s important to stop thinking of working out as a chore and more as medicine for our bodies.
Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest part. Instead of pushing off your goals for another day, choose to start now — because there's never a perfect time to start. Go to that class you’ve been putting off, lace up your shoes and step outside, or drive to the gym you signed up for but haven’t used yet.
Step 3: Gradually build on your goal
If your goal is to move more, start by finding 10 minutes in your day to work in some movement. After a week or more, try 11 minutes. Then, try 12 — and gradually build on it from there. Soon, regular movement will become part of your schedule and easier to integrate in your life.
For other goals, try gaining momentum by starting small and adding on as you grow more comfortable with the exercise or fitness routine. This is called habit stacking, which is a way to achieve one or more of your goals little by little instead of all at once. Just like a doctor is not expected to perform brain surgery without the proper training, you shouldn’t expect to run a marathon the first time you head out for a run. We all need to start somewhere on our fitness journey, and it's important to remember that achieving your goal takes time and determination.
Feel like you don’t have ten minutes as a parent? Try incorporating movement as a family. Take your baby or toddler out for a walk in the stroller or go for a family bike ride. The Grand Blue Mile External Site, which has a recreational division designed for casual joggers, walkers, and everyone in between, is a great event to get the whole family involved.
Step 4: Celebrate the milestones and grow from the setbacks
It’s important to celebrate the milestones leading up to your goal, like the first time you ran a half mile without stopping or when you went to the gym three times in one week. These mini goals can help motivate you to reach your end goal. Each time you reach a new milestone, take the time to appreciate where you are now and look forward to where you will be when you reach your goal.
It’s also important to remember that no one is perfect, and we are bound to slip up. Maybe you went on vacation and missed a few days at the gym. You may have had a cheat day or even a cheat week. Instead of reverting to your old ways, look back at the goal you wrote down and keep pursuing it. Don’t forget the progress you’ve made and know it’s never too late to start again.
Looking for other ways to get moving? If you're a Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield member, you may have access to well-being tips, tricks, and recommendations through the Wellness Center powered by WebMD® on myWellmark® Opens New Window. You can also reference these Blue articles focused on movement.