I wrote a blog post 3 weeks ago about the best exercise for beginners. I wrote it for all those who decided that 2018 would be the year where they would take up exercise and start the journey to a happier and healthier self. January is coming to an end now and I wonder how many of these people are on their way, and how many have given up already?
If you are going to the gym on a regular basis, you probably have noticed it yourself: In January the gym is full with new members, eager and motivated to make the change. A couple of months later the gym is back to its normal busy-ness, with a few new faces. Parking is easier to find again, lockers become available and treadmills are getting a break between users.
If you are struggling as well with keeping up with your new year’s resolutions, here are some tips that may help keep you going. As you know, you only have to keep going until it is a habit.
It is Not a New Year’s Resolution
Whatever your goal is, don’t call it a New Year’s Resolution. I think New Year’s Resolutions are doomed to fail. The connotation is so bad, whenever you tell someone your resolutions, I am sure they’re thinking at the back of their mind “let’s see if it lasts until the end of January”. If the people around you don’t believe in these resolutions, why should you. I think a better way would be to refer to them as goals.
Keep a Fitness Journal
To make sure that you achieve your goals, make sure you set SMART goals. I have written a whole blog about SMART goals here. One key element of a SMART goal is to break it down into smaller goals. I find writing these down and crossing them off the list as you go very helpful too. The internet is full of ideas on how to create your fitness and health journal (or any journal for that matter). A journal can be a notebook, an app or an excel spreadsheet. You can note the exercise you plan to do, your mood, your water intake, your meals, whatever it is that you determine is crucial to reach your goals. It tracks your progress and is incredibly motivating. When you are stuck on a plateau or lack enthusiasm, refer to your journal. Read how far you have come. I guarantee you will feel better and most likely push on.
Make a plan that goes beyond January. Don’t just plan for the first month of the year. Plan a few months ahead. Sign up for a certain gym class for the next 3 months. Book 10 personal trainer sessions. Make a commitment to play tennis every Saturday with a friend. Make time for hot yoga on Tuesday nights until summer. You will not be able to go 100% of the time, life happens and plans change. However, missing out on a workout or having a big night out does not mean that you should give up on your goal altogether. Just get back to it and stick to your plan as much as possible.
Tell your family, friends and colleagues at work about your goals. Don’t call them resolutions or they won’t believe you (see above). Telling people what you plan to do holds you accountable. Let them know that you are creating a new habit, establishing a new routine. I find support from fellow gym goers, common goals and shared interest in fitness and health one of the most powerful motivators out there. On some days I find it hard to drag myself to the gym, but the thought of catching up with the ladies at the gym and having a good laugh before or after our sweat session together always gets me there.
Get a Personal Trainer
I’m not saying that because I am one! A personal trainer can help you set realistic goals and reach those goals faster by tailoring an exercise programme according to your needs and abilities. And on days where you would otherwise skip the gym, you will go since the personal trainer is waiting for you – and you have already paid for the session. Even if you only see him or her once a week or fortnight, you are held accountable for progress or lack thereof.