How to Start the New Year Strong
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By Renpho Contributor
Most people take pleasure in making New Year's resolutions, typically pledging to start exercising more and adopting a healthier diet. But by the second week of February, the majority of these resolutions—especially those pertaining to fitness—often fall flat. If you're ready to start setting new fitness goals for this January, here are some recommendations to help you along the way.
Ensuring Your Resolution is Important to You
Setting a fitness goal is about more than just getting in shape, it brings structure to your life, improves your mental health, improves the quality of your sleep, and helps you feel a sense of achievement when you hit your goals. Whatever your goals are they must be personal to you, ensuring you keep the motivation to continue and not give up after a month or two.
When you find this reason, you can use it on the days you don't feel motivated and committed. If it's a strong enough reason, it will put you back on track.
Keep Your Goals Clear
When planning your fitness journey, it's common and easy to be vague about when you want to finish it or what the end goal might be. This is not what you want to do if you are planning a new year's resolution around health and fitness.
Outline your plan with a clear set of goals with a certain target for example a personal best, rep count, or anything else you're looking to achieve and when you want to reach it. This makes it as real as possible and more likely that you will stick to your plan. For example, 'exercise more' and 'get fit' are very general goals, which makes them hard to monitor and it's unlikely you'll keep that motivation throughout the year. It's easy to drop out if you don't have specific targets, but, when your goals aren't so vague, it's harder to walk away.
Having said this, it is okay to realize throughout the journey if you think a goal that you've set is not possible to achieve. If this happens don't quit, simply reign it back slightly so that it's doable but also still tough.
Make Multiple Achievable Goals
Having one big goal to hit can end up leaving you discouraged and unmotivated. Instead make smaller goals along the way that won't take as long to achieve along with your main goals. This gives us a boost in our confidence and ability and the satisfaction of hitting milestones. Having multiple goals prevents us from trying to achieve too much too quickly which could lead to unenergetic or worse picking up an injury.
It's okay to add new goals to your resolution along the way. Just because a target wasn't set pre-new year, doesn't mean it isn't part of the resolution.
Commit to Your Goals
A good way to keep on track with your resolution, whether it's fitness related or not, is to find a way of tracking your workouts, or better, the times you didn't work out. A great way of doing this is by talking to your friends or loved ones about your resolutions and goals.
It doesn't have to be many, a couple of people is plenty, but preferably people who have their own goals and resolutions so can check and talk to each other about your goals and feel accountable, helping you stay committed to your goals.
Another method is to keep a fitness diary and get into the practice of filling out your workout. This way you will realize when you aren't training as regularly as previously.
Track Your Growth
As I said above keeping a fitness diary is a great tool that can play an important role in your fitness routine. Tracking your workouts helps you realize if you are truly keeping on track with your targets and if you are actually progressing. If you don't track your workouts it will be hard to know if you are truly getting closer to your goals.
A great tip if your goal is to improve your physique is to take a photo of yourself, each month for example, and going looking back at the previous ones. This helps you realize if you are progressing and is an unbelievable moral and motivation booster. Sometimes we look at ourselves not thinking much has changed leaving us feeling disheartened. Taking a progress picture removes this feeling as we can clearly see the differences from one month to the next.
Motivation is not Enough
While a great tool, motivation shouldn't be the sole thing you rely on. The best thing about a New Year's resolution is the drive that the fresh start brings. We get to leave what happened last year there and that brings the motivation to change.
However, for a lot, this optimism only lasts a short time, perhaps a month or two. Everyone struggles with motivation at some point, even the fittest, healthiest people in the world. Don't punish yourself for having a bad day, it's okay, it's normal.
It is important to prepare so that you can be ready for these days when you aren't feeling as driven, and have other methods to stay on track.
These can be as simple as scheduling workout days in a diary, having a workout buddy, or giving yourself a treat after a hard-working session to push you through. Find something that will make you want to continue on the days you don't want to.
Keep it Fun
The drive at the beginning will be enough to keep you going, however, you won't always feel as motivated on certain days. To combat this try to make your resolution as enjoyable as possible. Try to incorporate activities you enjoy as we will never stick it out, and we are here to have a healthy lifestyle year-round and become our best selves.
Whether it's listening to your favorite music, trying different types of workouts to prevent getting bored, or a friend you train with, make sure your fitness journey is as fun as possible.
Don't be Tough on Yourself
It's important to remember that hitting a stumbling block is okay, we can't be at our very best every day. It's vital to remember that you are doing this for yourself, not anyone else and that you can always push on from where you left off, or start again if you feel that's what you need.
If you feel like you're losing momentum, just take one day at a time and focus on the positives you've experienced so far in your journey.
If you happen to pick up an injury, don't let it discourage you, just do the exercises that are possible, and if not, just start again when you've recovered and are ready. A fitness plan doesn't have to be the start of your fitness plan.
How to Keep your Resolutions
It's important to set realistic goals that add value to your lifestyle rather than take you away from things you need to do each day. For example, if you have three children at home, it's probably not doable to go work out every day, or if you work late, waking up at 6 am for a morning run isn't sustainable.
Start off slowly in your resolution rather than going from zero to 100 straight away. It's okay if you have never exercised before, ease yourself into it at first instead of diving right in, not only to maintain your resolution but also because pushing yourself too hard can damage your health. A New Year's resolution is about implementing small changes over the course of the year rather than trying to drastically change overnight.
A Final Reminder...
Trust the process, don't get frustrated with yourself, and imagine how you'll feel when you reach your goals and look back at how far you've come. Slow and steady wins the race, consistency is key, not diving in head first.
Learn more about Luke Durkan at fitthut: https://fitthut.com/
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