Whether or not they realize it, fit people are experts at accountability. As a personal trainer, here's my best tip for staying on track: Keep your goals in mind and make them part of all aspects of your life. Let them serve as daily reminders so that the decisions you make throughout the day will align with getting and staying fit.
Social media can be a powerful tool for change, so make your social-media accounts work for you. I create Pinterest boards for motivation, exercises and recipes. I follow my favorite Instagram fitness role models, and I "like" Facebook pages so I get video updates in my newsfeed. You can even get health and fitness tips on Snapchat.
Video of the Day
The key is to turn these pins, likes and follows into action! Schedule time in your calendar to try things out. Post your progress on your accounts; getting positive feedback can add fuel to your fire. I use Instagram to journal my progress. It doesn't have to be public, but having a space where you can post progress photos is great for motivation and support.
2. Log Your Workouts…Actually, Just Log Everything
A workout log is the most underutilized tool for people trying to get in shape. How can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been? I use Google Sheets and organize it into columns by date and workouts. I even keep a separate tab with personal records of my fastest run times, best lifts, and skills learned.
A journal serves two purposes: 1) It's a way of checking in with your body. If you feel especially tired one day, you might check to see how much you've worked out that week. 2) It shows your progress. You can look back on what you were doing months ago and see if you've improved. Some people like a physical journal, while others prefer digital fitness trackers: Do what works for you.
3. Work Out With Friends
Working out with a friend means making a "date" to see that person. You're less likely to back out, especially if that person is a friend. When I work out with a friend, it gives me new exercise ideas, allows someone to check my form and pushes me harder than I normally would.
Be careful in choosing your workout buddy: It could be a match made in heaven that propels you toward your goals or something that drags you in the opposite direction. Try working out with a few different buddies and see for yourself who fits the bill. Ideally, find someone with a slightly higher fitness level and similar fitness goals.
4. Take a Group Exercise Class
What's better than a workout buddy? A whole network of buddies. In group classes, you get the social benefit of working together to break a sweat, and you also get the guidance of a motivating instructor.
I can usually push myself on my own, but when I need a little extra incentive, I attend group classes. I feed off of other peoples' energies, so when I see others working hard, it motivates me to do the same.
Classes also require you to commit -- especially if there's a cancellation fee! For people who have trouble staying in the gym longer than 15 minutes, classes may be the perfect solution. Just remember: You need a supportive environment, so find a class that feeds your soul!
5. Write Down Your Goals
It's important to physically write down your goals on a piece of paper, not just type them in the Notes app on your phone! Putting pen to paper makes a goal real because you're creating something tangible. Keep this list somewhere visible, like on your nightstand. There's a chance you may not meet these goals, but this fear of failure is what propels you to meet them.
When setting goals, stick to the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. TIP: Make an inspiration board with your written goals and pictures as visual representations of what you want —a bulletin board with clippings of your ideal body, healthy recipes, goals, and motivational quotes will do.
6. “By Failing to Prepare You Are Preparing to Fail”
The fittest people have a system in place. They don't leave room for error because they know the moment they do, something will pop up and take priority over their health goals.
Here are two pro tips for preparing the right way: 1) Lay out your clothes, towel, headphones, snacks, etc. a day before your workout. 2) Plan your workout in advance. I know at least generally what exercises I want to do before starting a workout. Have a list or printout that outlines your workout.
To make measurable improvements, a workout program is invaluable. You can work with a trainer to create a customized program, or you can find ones online and in books.
7. Meal Prep for the Week
"Meal Prep Sunday" is followed by many fit people for a reason. The secret to feeling energized for your workout? Food. Want abs? I won't be the first to tell you that what you eat is 90 percent responsible for exposing them.
When you eat on impulse, you tend to grab whatever looks good or whatever is available, which doesn't always equal "healthy." I shop for the week ahead and start prepping as soon as I get home — rinsing, chopping, marinating, baking and packing. The kitchen is a total mess for a few hours, but the fact that I won't have to touch a cutting board or knife for a week and have delicious, healthy food makes it all worth it.