It’s the time of year when most New Year’s resolutions start to run out of steam. The rush of new members at the gym is dying down and detoxes have been consigned to history. Maybe snow has stopped you exercising or a heavy cold left you reaching for comfort food and the TV remote. Whether you made a resolution or not, now is the time to start or reinvigorate a good habit.
Most New Year Resolutions fail, so don’t worry if you’ve slipped. January 1 is an arbitrary and ill-advised time to turn over a new leaf. We are just coming back from a break to find a work backlog, bad weather, dark nights and increased chance of viruses ready to thwart us. Our bodies crave comfort food and outdoor exercise is a challenge for even die-hard exercisers, let alone newbies. Gyms are rammed with new members and magazines full of false hope with articles on how to succeed.
Starting on February 1, or indeed any time other than January gives you a better chance of success. For a start there’s less pressure. Nights are very slowly getting shorter and by the end of March the clocks will change as well. If you want to make a resolution, do it now with these simple bits of advice:
If you want to change your life you need to spend a little time thinking how this will practically effect you and your family. Find realistic and practical ways to make sure that your changes will fit into your life with minimal disruption to you and those around you. Also be aware that these changes need to be placed at or very near the top of your priorities. I frequently see people’s exercise regimes fail because they will still prioritise all work, family and social commitments above it. If you’re changing the way you eat, cooking one meal for you and one for the family won’t work. Find meals that everyone enjoys but are good for everyone too. My Dad was a marathon runner training over 50 miles per week with a young family. How did he do this? He got up early and ran to and from work every day. At the weekend we would go to a park or visit somewhere up to 20 miles away. He would then run home whilst my Mum drove us home. This may be extreme, but finding ways to incorporate your new plan into other commitments makes it achievable.
Keep it Simple
Don’t aim to run 50 miles per week, start with one mile brisk walking twice a week. Don’t aim to go to the gym every day for an hour, go twice a week for 45 minutes. Don’t try to eat perfectly every day, cut out three major food vices or alcohol Monday-Friday. By keeping your changes smaller and manageable they will appear less daunting and you’re more likely to succeed. You can review them after a month and add extra goals such as an extra gym trip or learning to cook a new healthier meal each week. To read more about this approach read my previous article on Incremental Gains.
Make sure your family, friends and work colleagues are on board. Being offered chocolates and cakes at work won’t help if you want to lose weight. If you’re going to be a little late home from work because you’ve stopped at the gym, make sure your family know and encourage you in this. You might even be able to rope in a friend or family member to train with you or help you cook healthier meals.
Start with these three simple bits of advice, some simple goals and go out there and start your resolution.
Jamie Johnston is a Personal Trainer in Birmingham