Losing weight and getting fitter are two excellent choices for resolutions; the big challenge is to keep those resolutions going further than the first week in January so that you achieve your desired goals.
To help you focus on starting, continuing and remaining fit in the New Year, we have the ultimate New Year, new you strategy, including:
- A simple, effective 5-step fitness plan
- Fitness focus tips that really work!
- Target ideas to help you reach your goals
5-steps to fitness
With your motivation at maximum levels, the temptation to enroll at your local gym, throw yourself headlong into exercise classes and slash your diet to the bone is extremely high. However, before you embark on your personal journey to improved health and fitness, take a little time out to plan and prepare. Time spent in this phase will pay dividends again and again in terms of safety, continuity and long term improvements. Simply follow the 5-step plan below which will set you on your way safely and effectively.
To start with, it is vitally important to ensure that it is safe for you to begin an exercise programme. Complete the safety checklist below and if you answer yes to one or more questions, or alternatively, if you are at all concerned about starting training, then make an appointment with your doctor for a checkup before you start.
Health-status safety checklist
- Are you aged over 30 and/or have not exercised for some time?
- Do you suffer from any medical conditions?
- Are you a smoker or have recently given up smoking?
- Have you undergone any surgery in the past two years?
- Are you suffering from any injuries?
- Are you currently on any prescribed medication?
- Are you unsure about beginning an exercise programme?
Once you have the all-clear from your doctor then you’re ready to step out on the road to ‘new you’ fitness.
Before you launch headlong into exercise, seek out an exercise professional who can provide expert input into your plans. A good exercise professional should be qualified to assess your current fitness levels, including cardiovascular (CV), strength, your nutrition and most importantly, with respect to your posture – flexibility. All are fundamental to a proper health and fitness programme. Time at this point will reap continual benefits during subsequent stages because your training will be relevant to and correct for you and your progression will be faster.
Target setting is extremely important as it will give you goals to aim for. Your goals can be anything you like, for example a desired weight, a particular dress size, a sporting event that you would like to try or complete, absolutely anything that you like. Discussing your targets with an exercise professional is also extremely useful as they should be able to advise on progression and offer relevant advice on how to reach your desired goals safely and effectively.
In the first few days of your new exercise regime, when your enthusiasm is likely to be high, it can be very easy to do too much too soon. The dangers here are overload, in the form of overworked muscles, fatigue, soreness, or worse still; injury. Any of these problems will be extremely de-motivating so it is important to balance your enthusiasm against your current fitness levels. Start sensibly and slowly so that you make the desired gains without struggling to walk or move for several days after your first session!
One of the keys to maintaining improvement during an exercise programme is to ensure that the body is sufficiently challenged so that adaptation (or fitness improvements) occurs. For real, long-lasting results, it is essential that your training is continually modified, adapted and updated at the correct pace for you, so that your health and fitness progresses and equally importantly, your motivation is maintained.
Keep that focus
However motivated you are at the beginning of your new fitness regime, there are certain to be times when your enthusiasm wavers. Other commitments, tiredness, bad weather and work are just a few of the challenges to your commitment that you will face as you try and maintain your ‘new you’ focus. When those ‘wobbly moments’ appear, keep your eye on the ball by trying one of the following strategies to counteract those negative thoughts.
Write it down
Write down your personal reasons for making your lifestyle changes, why it is important to you, what you aim to achieve and how good you’ll feel when you achieve your goals. Use this record as a touchstone to reaffirm your enthusiasm when the going gets tough.
Phone a friend
Linking up with a like-minded training partner can do wonders for maintaining your motivation. You can support each other when any negatives appear and sometimes, the simple act of making an exercise date with a friend can be enough to get you out of the door when your motivation is flagging.
At the beginning of your exercise plan you will have set yourself a target – which may take many months to achieve. The danger here is that although you progress towards your target, because it is a long way off, you sometimes feel that you’ll never get there. The solution is to set some interim goals – or stepping stones which are mini targets to aim for as you get fitter.
For example: If weight loss is your goal, break it down into monthly targets – and importantly, celebrate each monthly achievement.
If your goal is competition based, perhaps to complete a 10k race, target a 5k race as part of your build-up. The smaller event is an ideal short term focus point and will also serve as an effective measure of how your fitness is progressing.
New you – all year!
Start as you mean to continue and continue just as you’ve started is an appropriate mantra for your New Year focus. By planning ahead and beginning slowly, your health and fitness gains will be sustainable and you will achieve long lasting results. Additionally, employing a few simple tools for target setting and adaptation will ensure that you enjoy continual progression towards your goals. Fad diets and quick fitness fixes don’t work and will leave you unmotivated before January is through, so instead, focus on smart strategies – the new you is just around the corner!