Congratulations - You’ve made it through January. But how are you getting on with your New Year’s Resolutions? Perhaps you’re in full swing and feeling virtuous. Or perhaps you joined the gym only to make it once and are left consumed with guilt.
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Only about one in ten of us are successful with our resolutions, and many of us only manage to make changes for a month before going back to our old ways.
But don’t worry, not all is lost. If you want to set yourself longer lasting health and fitness goals that go beyond January, here are some tips to get your started:
1. Be specific
How many of us have uttered the words ‘I want to get fitter’ or ‘I want to be healthier’? Vague or generalised goals are unhelpful as they lack direction and it will be hard for you to see your progress. Ask yourself why you want to be fitter? Do you want to walk to the station without getting out of breath, or sit at work without getting backache? Do you want to run a marathon or swim twice a week? Whatever your goal, make it measurable so you can define how you’re going to get there and where you want to end up. Once you’ve reached your target, you can just keep moving the goalposts!
2. Do something you enjoy
If the thought of going to the gym feels you with dread, you’re not going to be motivated to go. According to the Fitness Industry Association, most people who join the gym in January cancel their membership within 24 weeks. Find something you enjoy, and you’ll be more motivated to go. Love dancing? Try a social dance class or 80s workout, such as the ones at Frame. Or are you motivated by working with others and benefiting your community? GoodGym offer lots of ways to get fit while doing charitable causes, leaving you feeling both physically and mentally virtuous!
3. Create a habit
Finding time to exercise can be a challenge, but being consistent can help to create a longer lasting habit. Try to find activities that you can easily access, such as a class on the way to work and treat your exercise time as you would any other appointment. Make small changes within your day, such as walking up escalators (yes, even the ones at Holborn) or making sure you get up and move away from your desk at least once an hour.
4. Go gradual
Your body needs time to adapt to a new training regime. If you’ve not run or exercised for a while, then start slow and progress gradually. Working out for too long or too intensely too soon can increase your changes of injury or burn out. A conditioning programme, such as Pilates, can help to maintain your overall strength and flexibility.
5. Eat well, not less
Starvation diets do not work. Your body is continually working to preserve energy, so if you suddenly start eating less it will go in to starvation mode. Your metabolism slows down, so less fat is burnt off and the body will actually store more fat as it won’t know when the next meal is coming. A lot of diet or ‘fat free’ foods are full of sugar to make them taste better. Try to avoid processed food and eat a wide variety of home cooked food. The more colourful the better! Denying yourself also doesn’t work, so giving yourself the occasional treat won’t do any harm.