Seven steps to make this summer your season of success

By: Falon Sweeney

Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone and we’ve endured 2013’s first heat wave. I think it’s safe to say that summer is here to stay. Summer serves as a time to refresh and renew. As a student I spend the majority of my time bogged down by coursework, multiple jobs, trying to fit in workouts whenever I can, and my social life. Free moments are few and far between, and admittedly, I don’t check in with myself as often as I should.

But the season of sun gives me a chance to come up for air and check in with myself to make sure I’m on track to be my best self, both physically and mentally. It’s a time when I’m able to make lifestyle changes and actually follow through with them—unlike nearly every New Year’s resolution I’ve failed to keep. Something about the warm air and lush vegetation almost begs me to better myself, unlike the abrasive winter mornings that sometimes deter me from lacing up and making that dreaded three-block trek to the gym. It seems like every summer I make some sort of lifestyle change that, in one way or another, seems to stick. Last summer I went gluten free and committed to clean eating and regular exercise. This habit stuck throughout the most chaotic school year of my life and I’ve remained my happiest and healthiest self.

Whether your goal is to train for a half marathon, transform your diet, succeed in the saddle, or to simply sweat more, here are a few tips to help those habits stick long after the sun sets and the temperature drops:

Set a clear goal

You’re making a lifestyle change for a reason. Either you aren’t satisfied with the way things are or you think they could improve in some way. Whatever you’re striving for, make it measurable. Write down your goal somewhere you can see it daily so that potential doubts or negative thoughts won’t overcome whatever change you opted to make during your aha! moment.

Be realistic

Often times this is where we mess up the most in goal setting. We try to commit to seven days at the gym, when in reality we have families, friends, and other responsibilities that make such a goal an impossible feat. Be honest with yourself. Reach for the stars 150%. But if you know your body can’t take the wear-and-tear of marathon training, opt for something just as impressive but in a way that works well with what you know won’t be detrimental to your health. Push your limits, but be smart about it.

Strive for small victories—they add up quicker than you’d think!

Progress comes with constantly being better than you were the day before. So if that means exercising for just one more minute than you did yesterday, let it be. Be proud of your progress and build on it daily.

Believe in the change you’re making

You are your own worst enemy. If you can convince yourself of the change you’re making, you’ve more than likely won half the battle. Learn to love the burn and before you know it, you’ll be able to tolerate—maybe even love—what used to seem impossible.

Leave room for error

It is OK, I repeat, OK to slip up every now and then. We’re human, remember? Just recognize when you slip up and move on. Many of my downfalls in trying to form habits have come from trying to make too many changes all at once and being far too strict about them. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you aren’t happy at the end of the day. So keep those negative thoughts at bay and humor yourself.

Be accountable

If you want the world to know the fitness journey you’re embarking on, don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family, or even your twitter feed what you plan to do and the progress you make. If you’d rather keep it personal, write your goal down in a journal or on a sticky note and keep track of both your accomplishments and downfalls.

Reward yourself

Because you chose a measurable goal, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come from where you started. Whether you’ve improved a lot or a little, you’ve made at least some progress, and that’s a cause for celebration.

Believe it. Be it. Raise your standards. Raise the bar.

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