The New Year is a particularly busy time for the fitness industry. People feel inspired to make some healthier changes and what better time to start than when you’re making those New Year resolutions. However, how many of you have made that resolution this year, but also the year before and the year before that….? Although the intention may be there, the motivation to make those changes may fade quickly. So how do you maintain the health kick?
Be prepared for the long-ride
The first and most important thing to do is to set aside the notion that you will become a healthier person overnight. The media will be filled with crash diets, 12-week, 6-week or even 4-week exercise plans and no end of herbs, supplements or potions that claim to help you lose weight and get healthier. Don’t get caught up in the hype.
The first key step towards success, is understanding that you will be committing to a journey. You will need to be prepared to invest time (and perhaps also money in some circumstances), to make truly sustainable changes to your lifestyle. If you want to make your resolution stick, then don’t buy into short-term fixes.
So, you’ve made your New Year’s resolution, you’re prepared to start the journey but now what? What’s the next step? Get some clear goals in your mind around what it is you want to achieve and make it specific. It’s not enough just to say you want to be healthier. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how can you work towards it? Do you want to lose weight, if so, how much? Do you want to improve your fitness, then in what sense – cardio, strength or stamina?
Maybe you’ll even stop smoking. Do you want to improve your diet? Will you do that by reducing your alcohol or sugar consumption? Be clear on what it is you want to achieve, so it will give you focus and something measurable to works towards.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and think outside the box
Now your goal is set, consider your options for achieving that. Are you confident that you will achieve those goals on your own or do you need professional advice and guidance? This is where some people will fail to maintain their resolution. You may be motivated at the start of the year but as that motivation starts to fade, do you have the drive to keep going or will you need someone to give you that extra push?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That might be in the form of a personal trainer, dietician, therapist or health professional. Don’t feel pressured into thinking you have to do things on your own. It’s our job to provide advice and guidance, so why not take advantage of that?
Additionally, joining the gym isn’t your only option to get fit and healthy. There are freelance personal trainers, fitness classes, community groups, Parkrun, sports clubs, workshops and more…think outside the box!
Be prepared for challenges
Working towards a healthy lifestyle is not going to be easy. If you really want to make those healthy habits long-term, it requires effort and more often than not there will be hiccups along the way. I haven’t worked with a client yet, who hasn’t encountered an occasional speed bump. So don’t be harsh on yourself if you do reach a challenge. The worst thing you can do is self-criticise. Take the opportunity to reflect. Once you’ve given some time to understand what may have caused that hiccup, think about what you will do to keep working towards your goal. Don’t give up at that first hurdle.
Finally, bear in mind that being healthy doesn’t just mean being physically fit, eating well, drinking less or stopping smoking. It also includes healthy mental wellbeing. Losing weight may help you with your self-confidence or improve your self-esteem but don’t ignore other reasons which may be causing you to feel that way. It’s important to take time to work on our mental wellbeing, just as much as our physical health. You may work extremely hard to achieve a physical target but if you are still experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression at the end of it, have you really achieved your overall goal?