You know the score, New Year, New….. but take my advice and temper your enthusiasm and drop the ‘get fit, lose weight’ script if you want the best results. The trick is to make those better body resolutions because you want to, not because you think you should, and then start to get real with your goals and expectations.
Here are my top ten most successful ways to getting fit, and keep those resolutions on track.
1. Self motivate: Motivation has to be intrinsic, which means that we need to be honest with ourselves about what is important to us, what we really want, and then go ahead and do whatever it takes to get there. We all need our own anchor, and if we set off out of a misplaced sense that we should do so for others, it never lasts.
2. Be honest: Where there is frustration there is always a gap between our goal and attitude. Most of us would like to be in the best possible shape physically, but there’s a cost that some of us aren’t willing to pay. Think of it as a continuum, with the best and worst physical version of yourself at either end. The further you move towards the best version of yourself, the more dietary and exercise diligence it will cost you.
3. Get real: If we have spent the last few years getting out of shape, don’t expect wonders in weeks. An initial period of focus is great, but extremes are rarely sustainable. Rather than set out with the all too common ‘all or nothing’ mantra, be realistic, both about how much change you can implement and also how long it will take you.
4. Keep moving: Structured exercise is important part, especially if you have specific training goals, but we often forget that it is perhaps more important to move regularly outside of the gym. Most of us should walk more for example, something which I believe most of us should aim to do for half an hour each day where possible. Just pick something that we enjoy doing, and move.
5. The power of three: Commit to three workouts per week: lack of time and lack of results are the two main reasons cited for not continuing at the gym. Yes it’s hard to get to the gym, but I am going to pin my colors to the mast here and say that anything less than three workouts per week is highly unlikely to yield significant results. We need to make the time.
6. 12 magic weeks: Time away from training is important, both physically and mentally, but if we want to get good at anything, we need to do it regularly. It is often useful to approach the year as four twelve week focused blocks, with a week or two off in between, to account for holidays, illnesses and general life stuff.
7. Set goals: Going to the gym for the sake of going to the gym test even the most enthusiastic among us eventually, especially when progress becomes more gradual, which it will. Most of us need a purpose if we are going to stick to it long term, and we need a reason to turn up two or three times each week. A performance goal, including a 10km run, an obstacle run, or a bike ride, gives us motivation and reason to workout.
8. Find a friend: Most of us pick our gyms based on price, location and facilities, but the reality is that this seldom works. The key to long-term adherence, and in turn results, is to choose an environment that is suited to our personality and individual circumstances, a place where we are surrounded by the support of a network of like-minded people. This might be a gym with a particular training ethos or a running or cycling club for example, a place with a community and supportive culture.
9. Eat for fitness: Knowing which approach to follow can be a minefield, especially at this time of year, with all the seemingly new and improved nutritional approaches, but it doesn’t need to be complicated – besides, most of us know what to do, we just do not do it consistently. We probably all know that adequate protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and plenty of water will take us most of the way for example, we just need to do it.
10. Stick to the plan: Nutritional and exercise promiscuity is perhaps the biggest reason that most of us struggle to reach our own goals. We will all fare differently on the varying approaches, and we cannot assume that because it worked for others, that it will work for us. It can be hard not to be tempted to try something else after a couple of weeks, but we shouldn’t, we should stick to the programme and give it the chance to work properly.