Fitness programs and fitness challenges… sustainable or not?

Rachael Attard Lean Legs Program: Monday Week 8

Fitness programs and fitness challenges are very popular these days, particularly in the form of an online workout plan, but are fitness programs sustainable? They often have a fitness meal and exercise plan scheduled for a specific length of time – such as a 30 day diet plan, an 8 week fitness program or perhaps a 12 week workout challenge.

But what happens at the end of the fitness program? Do you keep going with the program? Do you modify it once you’ve achieved your desired fitness level or weight loss goal? Or do you go back to your previous lifestyle habits now that you’ve ticked the fitness challenge box? Are fitness programs sustainable?

Are you considering a fitness challenge or workout program online?

Following a structured workout program with a specific timeframe helps create structure for healthy changes and can be a great tool to use in your journey, but it is just a tool, and you can use it the right way or the wrong way! The wrong way can mean your fitness program will not be sustainable. Here are five things to think about when considering a fitness challenge or workout program online.

The motivation factor – fitness programs can give you a push!

It can be very hard to diet and to get the motivation to be healthy, especially if you’ve been out of shape for a while and find it hard to start exercising again. Starting a workout program or fitness challenge is a great way to get started and make the decision to choose healthier choices.

Having a time frame makes it seem like a manageable commitment that most people can stick to.

It is important to be really clear on your goals when choosing a workout program or fitness challenge. Do you want to lose weight? Tone up? Build muscle?

Finding the right program can help you stay motivated and achieve the right health goals for you. Timeframes are usually determined to help you achieve specific goals and also to build new health habits so that it becomes easier and more natural to make healthy choices. Developing healthy habits is one way to help make sure fitness programs are sustainable.

Structured for success – in a sustainable way

It can be really difficult to start dieting, working out or even just making healthier choices if you have never done so before, or are just very out of practice! There is so much information and conflicting suggestions that doing it alone can be tough and it’s easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed.

Having a fitness meal and exercise plan can provide the structure you need for success.

Whether you choose something flexible that fits in with your lifestyle, or something more directive where all the decisions are made for you, by starting an online workout program or fitness plan you will have the information you need to achieve your health goals. It is a great way to learn how to be healthy, especially if you are just starting out, or have a specific fitness goal that you want to achieve. You can then use your knowledge to maintain your healthy lifestyle or set a new goal.

Someone’s watching you – stick to your exercise program

Accountability! Fitness challenges and online workout programs are great for keeping you committed and accountable.

Some programs have 1:1 coaching or weekly/daily check-ins to really make sure you are on track. Others have fitness community groups or forums where members support each other.

You can find tips, ask questions, share recipes and all sorts to help you stay on track and get the support you need. Sharing your fitness journey with others and getting to know their stories, challenges and successes can help you stay accountable and reach your health and fitness goals. Fitness programs are often sustainable by building these relationships to continue after the program ‘end date’.

Released and set free – the best fitness programs are sustainable after the ‘end date’

So you’ve finished your fitness challenge or structured workout program, now what? Firstly, high five! Great effort. Now what’s next?

Many people find it is easier to start a fitness program that it is to maintain one, so it’s really important to think about what you are going to do next. What does your fitness program suggest? This is often a good place to start – to seek the guidance of the program you have completed as it will be specific to your goals.

A good program will have advice or suggestions for next steps – whether you are still working towards your fitness goals, still have weight you want to lose, or whether you are looking for a way to maintain results. This is one way that the best fitness programs are sustainable – by planning for your next steps at the end of the challenge period.

Rachael Attard’s Lean Legs program is an eight-week program, however there is a focus on lifestyle change and maintainable habits. Rachel Attard recommends taking a week off after you finish eight weeks, and then depending on your goals you can start the round again – maybe add some different activities, heavier weights, try some of the optional workouts if you’re looking for an extra challenge.

Ebbs and Flows – maintain fitness and health priorities your way!

While it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, remember that the activity in your life ebbs and flows and it is important to have a realistic plan and goals in place for when you complete your fitness challenge.

Maybe you are ready to do another round, or complete a harder challenge – that’s great! But perhaps also you have other things happening on your life and your goal is simply to keep up some healthy habits but without the time or effort commitment of another challenge or program right now. That is also completely okay!

Be realistic about what is happening in your life, what your priorities are and what you can reasonably commit to. Remember, nothing is static – it’s okay to go through changing seasons of different priorities in your life.

I know for myself, I have a busy couple of months of work coming up. I will not be able to commit as much time to exercising as I’m doing on the Lean Legs program. But I do want to keep drinking plenty of water, doing some movement activity most days, and lay off the junk food. Then, in a couple of months, I might feel like putting workouts at the top of the list for a while again!

Using your fitness program tool the right way – be clear on your nutrition and fitness goals

So there are many benefits to starting a fitness program or workout challenge and I think they’re fantastic for giving us guidance, knowledge, structure, motivation and accountability for our weight loss/toning/fitness/health goals.

It is important to have a plan for after you finish the program and to be realistic about what you want to achieve and consider what else is happening in your life. The end of a fitness program is not the end of your healthy lifestyle, but it may be a good time for a few days or a week off to rest and recover, and to consider what is maintainable for you now.

How do you feel about programs with a specific timeframe, can they create long term healthy habits? Or do you find that the ‘end date’ creates a mentality of ‘stopping’ once the program finishes? Please share!

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