Meghan Dimsa
M.ED., M.A., C.S.C.S
Georgetown University
Assistant Director of Yates Field House
Director of Fitness and Wellness

If you have watched TV or read books and magazines, you have likely been bombarded with advertisements for trendy exercise programs bottled in a “one-size-fits-all” package. Like most of us, you begin to lose steam, motivation and interest a few weeks into the program. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, more than 50 percent of us drop out of an exercise program within the first six months. So whether you get bored, make excuses or just can’t find the time — below are a few tips on how to help manage your own exercise plan.

Step 1: Write down goals that meet your needs, schedule and fitness level: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I know you have heard this time and again, and, well, it’s true. You wouldn’t expect to excel on a test without studying, or give a quality presentation without preparation, right? Why should your fitness plan be any different? Writing out your goals will help keep you on track during those tough bumps in the road. When you’re goal setting, remember to make the goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.). Here’s an example: A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a S.M.A.R.T. goal would say, “Do 30 minutes of cardio three days a week and weight train two days a week to lose 2 percent of body fat by Aug. 21, 2015.”

Step 2: Once you have written down all of your S.M.A.R.T. goals, jot down any barriers that might prevent you from reaching your goal. For example, if one of your main barriers is finding the time, write it down. Look at what you have written and brainstorm what that entails and how you can overcome that barrier. If you have a demanding class schedule, study groups and test preparation, it’s understandable how fitness can easily get lost in the hustle and bustle of each day. Examine your obstacles and all of the circumstances that prevent you from participating in some form of physical activity. I would dare to argue that some of us find about 30 minutes for Facebook or Twitter during that busy day. Can you replace those sedentary tasks with exercise?


Step 3: Make fitness a priority. While it’s definitely easier to sit at our computers and cruise Facebook or send a Tweet than to change clothes and hit the gym, the latter is extremely more rewarding in the long haul. Once you have documented your S.M.A.R.T. goals and your barriers, it’s time to examine your day and decide where fitness can “fit” in. Next time you’re browsing the Internet or staring blankly at the TV, pay attention to how much time has elapsed. Even 10 minutes of physical activity is a start, and something is always better than nothing.

Step 4: OK, so you’ve done all three steps and you’ve finally made it to the gym! Congratulations! Now, how do you actually stick to an exercise program? Your mindset is extremely important. Think of your exercise program as a lifestyle, not a quick-fix solution as many of today’s fitness trends lead you to believe. Exercise should become part of your life on a regular basis. Start off modestly — your first gym visit shouldn’t include a two-hour marathon race on the elliptical machine paired with five hours of CrossFit. If you can carve out 30 minutes to do moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week, that’s excellent. If you simply aren’t ready for that much of a commitment, just start out with a 10- or 15-minute walk here and there. Initially, what’s most important is to set goals that are attainable for you and your life. Each time you reach a goal you have set, you will gain more confidence and momentum to continue with future workouts.

Step 5: Once you’ve been exercising for a while, don’t forget to mix it up and enjoy it. Work out with friends, try some group fitness classes and consider ways to tweak your current workout program. Why do we make time for Facebook or TV throughout the day? Because we enjoy it. Physical activity should not be different. If your workout program becomes something you dread doing every day, you more than likely will not stick with it. Pick activities that you enjoy and take it from there!

If you would like to chat further about how you can pick the right fitness program for your lifestyle and stick with it for the long haul, please contact Meghan Dimsa at [email protected]

One Comment

  1. Alan Bricker says:

    Meghan Dimsa, the author of, “One Step At A Time,” in your “Health And Wellness” issue is to be commended for her clarity, concision, and common sense approach, regarding her five-step program to achieving fitness. Well written, indeed!

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