Conquering the "Fitness Drop-Out" Syndrome

Written by Libby Norris

Many of us appreciate the benefits of fitness. We understand that regular activity makes our bodies stronger. We recognize that our heart will function more efficiently. We understand that we will experience an improved level of circulation and there is an array of chemical exchanges that will motivate a more positive outlook on life. However, none of these benefits are attainable if fitness is not a regular and consistent aspect of our lifestyle. Far too often, individuals are duped into short-term, quick fixes that bring some immediate consequence, but no long lasting impact. 

Statistically, the experts report an alarming fifty-percent of newcomers to fitness, drop-out in the first six months of starting a new program.1 Many aspire to fitness, but fewer seem able to adhere to the commitment to bring about healthy and necessary changes. 

One of the most common reasons for drop-off is the experience itself. Many individuals do not enjoy exercise. Therefore, activity selection is critical to anyone's success. Tapping into recreation or movements that are motivating, is the key to sticking with it. The media is clever at creating the temptation to jump on board with the latest fitness craze. Be certain though that this new craze has a connection that runs deeper than the over-inflated promises to find the perfect body. The following are some suggestions to assist you in conquering the fitness drop-out syndrome. 

Having a plan and giving careful consideration to this plan is the first step to making this a permanent addition to your life. Remember, long term adherence is the secret to success. Your plan needs to include a starting point that is attainable and do-able. Look for fitness options that include a small percentage of challenge, but not too much. Over-doing it in the initial stages of any exercise program, can leave you feeling defeated and over-whelmed. A sense of accomplishment is critical when beginning any new endeavor. 

Keep your steps small and steady. Taking big leaps into unknown waters can be a pathway to frustration. It's unreasonable to expect that someone new to fitness would conquer a marathon in the first six weeks of beginning their fitness regime. If running is one of your ambitions, then tackle your goal by first registering in a "learn to run" program. There are many steps in the overall achievement of any fitness goal. 

Any new plan is better served with systems of accountability. Choosing to pursue fitness with a buddy is often a great way to keep your fitness on track. Even the most disciplined of participants welcome the interaction and commitment tied to working out with someone else. Buddies provide an outlet for discussion and communication. They can be a necessary sounding board and provide you with excellent feedback on your progress. They can also inject a very healthy percentage of competition that will keep you both motivated and pressing for your goals. 

We often have many smaller goals tied to a primary one. Remember to keep health first on your list of goals. Don't compromise your health in an effort to rush or short-cut the very natural process of physical change. It's important to remind yourself that you did not arrive at this point in your life over-night. Therefore, the pathway to a more excellent way cannot be traveled in just a few short weeks. Log your daily achievements in a journal so you can remind yourself frequently where you have come from. 

Consequences are a result of choices, and choices are responsible for positive change. Adding fitness to your life is a great choice and if you stick with it, there will be many positive consequences.

1. Gabert, T. E. (1989, April). Attitudes, beliefs, and models in adherence to exercise and sport. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Boston, MA. ED 309 160

Always consult your health care professional before making any significant changes in your dietary habits or your physical activity routines.

*©, 2013 Trademark of Kellogg Company used under license by Kellogg NA Co

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