Break on through:
8) Hold yourself to a time commitment. When you start a new program, promise yourself you absolutely aren't going to quit for three months, the usual length of time it takes to turn your wish into commitment. By then, you'll have started experiencing some physical and psychological benefits, and you're more likely to keep going than you would be if you had stopped after a month.
9) Have a reward system.
Do something that feels good following an exercise session, such as getting a world-class massage. Eventually, the enjoyment that comes from exercising regularly will become a reward in itself. The massage may become part of the ritual too.
10) Don't get down on yourself. The first time you have an impulse to quit--or miss a workout--don't beat yourself up over it. Instead, try to reconnect with the feeling of accomplishment you had when you started working out, and the sense of self-mastery that comes from taking steps toward your goals.
11) Don't let a missed workout spell the end. Every time you miss a session, immediately plan a new one--for the next day, if possible. Remember, it's easier to get back on the mental track by making up one missed workout than it is after missing five of them.
12) Go back over the goals you set out to meet when you first started. Guys who bail on a workout program conveniently allow themselves to forget why they started one in the first place. Don't let this happen to you.
13) Think of exercise as a lifelong habit, not an instant cure-all. If you want to be ambulatory at 85, not just have good abs in your 30s, exercise has to have a permanent berth in your weekly schedule.
14) Don't get discouraged by what seems like slow progress. No one goes from schlub to hardbody in a couple of months ... but you'll never get there if you give up now. Plan your growth in increments, and congratulate yourself for the progress you're making at every step.
15) Don't let impatience lead to overexercising. If you're tempted to work out too long or too often to speed things up, don't. Overexercising can quickly lead to overtraining syndrome and injury, and it won't make your muscles grow any faster. Keep in mind that rest, recovery, and proper nutrition between workouts are the keys to fitness and a great-looking body.
FITNESS BARRIER: ADHERING TO UNFIT LIFESTYLE
Going to the gym for an hour is a great start, but what about the rest of the day? Guys who are successful in a fitness program, and who stick with it over the long haul, are the ones who live fit lives. "The more you can get yourself to exercise, and the more others around you respond to that, the stronger your Âexercise identity' becomes," says Dean Anderson, Ph.D., a sports sociologist and a professor in the department of health and human performance at Iowa State University. "And the more committed you become to thinking of yourself that way, the more likely you are to stick with it."
Break on through: 16) Get other people on your side. Let your friends and family know you're working out so they can encourage you to stick with it (and razz you if you don't).
17) Go shopping. Buying all the gym equipment and clothes you need will keep you thinking of yourself as an exerciser--but remember, unless you're really fit, no spandex. Of course, don't go whole hog on the expense side; start with what you need immediately, then add to it as you progress.
18) Junk the junk food. Stocking your larder with lean protein, fresh produce and complex carbs--beer doesn't qualify--will keep you energized and help you get the greatest benefit from your workouts. It'll also help you think of your body as a temple, and not the Temple of Doom.
19) Stop smoking, drinking too much, and staying out until 4 a.m. Tobacco destroys your cardiovascular system, drinking dehydrates you, and lack of sleep keeps you from producing enough of those muscle-building hormones. But beyond that, when you party every night, you miss out on that great feeling of being fit and healthy that exercise will bring you if you let it.
20) Feel the confidence. When you work out regularly, you end up boosting your self-image. That's not just because you start to look better, but also because you're accomplishing something, with visible results, every week.
21) Get physical all the time. What's the point of becoming fit if you're still going to hang out on the couch all day? Start discovering the physical benefits of being in good condition, from sports to hiking and camping outdoors to better sex. Once you've learned how much more fun your life can be, you'll never want to go back.