At the beginning of the New Year, most people you know will be setting themselves fitness goals for the year ahead. Some might commit to joining a gym, and some may sign up to a marathon or race.
But how do you make these resolutions last past the second weekend in February?
Before you start your exercise program, answer three questions. First, when will you exercise? Identify three days and times that are convenient for you and stick with those days so you are working out at the same time each week. Second, what type of exercise will you do? The best type of exercise is one you enjoy. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing; pick an exercise that works for you. Choose from activities such as walking, cycling, running, swimming, weightlifting, skating, dancing, golf, handball, tennis and basketball. Third, how much time will you spend exercising? Start with as little as 10 minutes per session and slowly build up to at least 30 minutes per workout.
What fitness habits do you have that you wish you could break? Do you go home after work and fail to muster up the energy to get back out to the gym? Do you always workout on the weekend but struggle to get active in the week?
Start by making a list of the habits you currently have that you would like to change, by setting mini goals. Once you’ve completed this, put the list in order of priority and understand that some may be linked together. This is important for understanding the overall expectations and the impact one goal may have on another. And as you’ve probably heard a million times before – make sure these goals and new habits are realistic.
3. Take it easy
Start with smaller steps. Think of your resolution as a lifelong commitment to a healthier lifestyle. You are much more likely to be successful if you take it easy at the beginning. For instance, you may see people exercising at a very high intensity, but you should start with low-to-moderate intensity workouts. You may know people who train six days a week, but it’s fine to start with three. You may see people engage in a diverse array of physical activities, but a 15-minute walk three days a week is a great place to begin.
4. Keep a fitness tracker
You’ve written down your fitness habits, you’ve got your plan – now it’s time to keep track of what you’re doing. Doing this is a good way to see how you’re heading towards your goals.
Did you lift 10kg for the first time? Plank for the longest you’ve ever planked? Run the longest your’ve ever run? Write it down. By doing this, you can keep checking back that you are still on schedule to achieve what you set out to do.
By recording your movements, it is a lot easier to create better habits and form a routine rather than just running full throttle, with no plan and hoping for the best. A diary will also keep you accountable for your actions. If you get three months in the year and you haven’t changed, or updated the diary you need to reassess and work out why. If you are seeing results, then you can continue what’s working.
5. Celebrate your successes
Set rewards for achieving milestones in the plan. But if you deviate from the plan don’t punish yourself or slip back into old habits completely. Use it as a learning experience, discuss why the slip up happened and focus on getting back on track and into the right mindset for change.