In most of life's endeavors, it's often less important how you start, and more important how you finish.
In sports like football, it's often said that it's the fourth quarter where games are won and lost.
In the unofficial "fitness calendar," we've just passed "halftime" and are entering the important "stretch run." Most people start by making a New Year's resolution and begin exercising and eating right in January. It's typical for these people to start off strong, making progress and feeling better about themselves. Many even make it into the spring months, spurred on by the desire to get a better beach body.
But it's usually in the summer months that people tend to take a step backwards. Visits to the gym become less frequent. Food and alcohol consumption increases. Goals that were once so clear become blurred by the haze the descends during these dog days of summer.
But it's what happens next that determines whether you'll finish the year on track, or whether you'll be making the same resolutions next January. The "second half" is now under way. And the "fourth quarter" of fitness will be here before you know it. Here are a few tips for making sure you finish strong:
1. START NOW – The first thing you need to do is to shake off the sluggishness of summer and acquire a sense of urgency. It's now early August. If you slacked off in June and July, don't wait any longer to get yourself back in the groove. If you find yourself saying things like, "I'll wait until September to get back to the gym," that will likely turn into, "I'll wait until October," and then, "maybe after the holidays," and then, "next year."
Exercise again now. Clean up your diet now. Write down your goals again now. The clock is ticking.
2. MAKE A PLAN – Chart the remainder of the year. If you have a summer vacation still ahead of you, make that part of your plan, but not part of an excuse. Think ahead about the holidays and the fact that you may be a little busier during those weeks. Then examine the remaining weeks and calculate how many workouts you can get in between now and the end of the year. Think of what you want to achieve and write down realistic goals you can reach by then.
Without a plan, you're like a quarterback without a playbook; you're going to get sacked.
3. CHANGE IT UP – Warm weather isn't the only reason we sometimes abandon our workouts during the summer months. Sometimes we do it because we're bored with them. What seemed new and fresh in January can became stale and counterproductive a few months later. So, why are you still doing the same workout?
Page 2 of 2 - Summer is great time to change things up because there are more options. The warmer weather allows you to try outdoor exercise, like running, biking and swimming.
If outdoor workouts aren't your thing, stay inside but change your routine. Our bodies are designed to adjust to whatever we put them through. So, keep your body guessing. Change the types of exercises you do, the amount of weight you lift, the number of sets and reps you do, the amount of rest you give yourself between exercises, and so on.
Life is all about making adjustments, and your workouts are no different. Just like the football coach who adjusts his plays at halftime and leads his team to a come-from-behind win in the second half, so to can you "win" this game of personal achievement and end the year in better shape than you started it.
Frank Shelton is a certified fitness trainer and the owner of The Village Gym. He can be reached at 376-3060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.