It’s that time of year again — for making resolutions to get into shape and make better choices. Noble goals, but ones that can lead to disappointment.
I know this feeling all too well. At the young age of 13, I resolved to get into shape during the new year. New year, new me, right?
I immediately started exercising every day and cut back on calories. And … it worked! After two months, I lost a significant amount of weight and was gaining more muscle. The problem? I did too much, too soon. I was fatigued, hungry and injury ridden. Three months later, I ended up gaining back all the weight I had lost. And I felt incredibly discouraged.
It took me a good part of the year to find the right balance for my body — of exercising, working with a personal trainer, changing my eating habits, drinking more water and resting adequately. Eventually, I found a sustainable approach to weight loss and getting healthier.
Have you made a similar resolution for 2024? Here are 10 tips and tricks to achieve your 2024 goal—and ways that UW Recreation can help!
1. Take the time to set realistic, well-considered goals
I have worked with hundreds of clients over the years and seen some unrealistic goals, which sets up a person for discouragement and sometimes failure. For example, one of my previous clients wanted to lose 80 pounds before his wedding in March (a 4-month timeline). It was my job to explain to him and show him why that was not a healthy (and likely attainable) goal.
2. Work with a professional (or two)
UW Recreation has registered dietitians and personal trainers on staff who can help you set your goals, establish a timeline for meeting them, and develop an implementation plan. Our registered dietitians will work one-on-one with you to provide an initial nutrition assessment to explore your relationship with food, assess your baseline dietary habits, and discuss your nutrition-related priorities. They will then develop an individualized nutrition plan for you based on your needs and lifestyle. Our personal trainers provide one-on-one fitness instruction that incorporates fitness assessments, goal setting and exercise education (including injury prevention). Following an introductory session, your trainer will guide you through workout routines specifically designed for your fitness needs. Direction and guidance are key!
3. Develop or use an exercise program
You will greatly benefit from structure in your fitness journey. If a personal trainer is not for you, consider looking into an exercise program. Whether it’s developing one on your own or subscribing to a new fitness app, structure and proper planning will lead to success!
4. Try it with others
Group fitness is a great entry point for those who are hesitant to go it alone at the gym. Grab a colleague and try starting with a cycle, dance class, total body workout or Barre burn! Our group fitness classes will help you stay active, reduce stress, and have fun! The Rec Class Pass lets you enjoy unlimited access to dozens of fitness and mindfulness classes hosted by our friendly, knowledgeable instructors. Faculty and staff are avid users of our Rec Class Pass, so you will be in good company.
5. Be consistent
You will be more successful if you designate a regular time each day for exercise. Vaguely saying you will do it “after work” often leads to “oh, I’m too tired today.” Sure, some days you are too tired to workout. However, more often than not, if you tell yourself to just do it for ten minutes, you’ll find that it’s easy to complete the session — and that you’ll have more energy afterwards! Remember, if people with a full-time job, children, and a long commute can do it, so can you. Make fitness a daily habit.
6. Don’t forget mindfulness
Need to de-stress? The Rec Class Pass lets you attend several different types of yoga classes, also. From Power Yoga to Meditation, these classes are good for your mind as well as your body. Try out different classes and see which ones work best for you!
7. Include sufficient sleep in your written program
Rest is an incredibly important aspect of starting a new health and fitness journey — and one that is often neglected. When you start exercising regularly, your body will be sore at times. Rest lets your body heal and repair. Do not neglect the zzzzz!
8. Set aside time for yourself
It’s very important to take time for yourself when you’re starting a new routine. You’re in an adjustment period, which can be stressful and calls for taking it easy in other areas of your life. Now is the time to appreciate the changes you are making!
9. Practice resiliency
Understand that developing new habits is hard. It may be uncomfortable at times. Remember that you do not need to adhere to these guidelines 100% of the time to be successful and achieve your goals. Always remember that there may be difficulties, but your goals and the resulting effects are worth it.
10. Be safe in the gym — ask for help!
UW Rec employees are here to help you, and happy to answer any questions you may have. UW Recreation is proud of our welcoming and positive culture. We are committed to creating an environment where everyone belongs, and building communities through respect, trust and understanding. We try to infuse fun and positive energy into everything we do!
Following these guidelines will ensure a healthy start to 2024 as well as the creation of life-long habits of well-being!
Jeff Palmer is the fitness and wellness manager at UW Recreation.