New Year – New You: how to get & stay in shape
Getting fit is among the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make every year. Most though, abandon their goal by spring. Here are a few tips to ensure that this is the year that the goal of getting fit becomes a reality.
Be clear about your motivation. Often, we think it’s just to look better, but if we dig a little deeper, it’s really about feeling better, having more self- confidence, more energy, not having aches and pains in your joints and muscles, feeling more comfortable in your clothes and feeling happier.
Set measurable short-term and long-term goals. Plan to have achieved a certain small goal by the end of January and a bigger goal by the end of March. Keep an exercise goal diary marking each time you exercise and setting a reward for yourself if you reach your goal by the end of the month.
Take baby steps. Don’t try to incorporate new habits all at once. Gradually introduce new activities and as they are mastered, add additional activities. In the same way don’t try to give up too many bad habits at once. Feeling good about yourself for giving up one thing is better that feeling bad because you couldn’t give up everything.
Find opportunities to incorporate more daily activity. Make multiple trips up the stairs instead of saving it just for one. Park further away. Carry things yourself. Move, move, move, move. Every step counts.
Do what you love. Some people love the gym & love working out alone 4 times a week, but if that’s not you then don’t put yourself through it because you won’t stick to it in the long term. Mix up your weekly activities, one gym workout, a dance class, Pilates, a weights class. This way each of your workouts will be different and you’re less likely to get bored & give up.
Find someone to be accountable to. Report your workouts and diet efforts to a friend, family member or to your gym instructor. Have regular re-assessments with your instructor or enrol on the slimming club – having to check in regularly will lower the risk of abandoning fitness goals.
Get your family on board. So often we hear that diets have fallen by the wayside because husbands or kids want take-a-ways or fast food too many times in the week. We hear that exercise is put on a back burner because husbands are out doing their thing and there’s no child care, or the kids have too many activities that they need to be taxied too & from. While caring for your family is important, looking after your own health (and sanity!) is important too. If you’re not fit & well and taking care of yourself through healthy eating & exercise – you’re not going to able to care for them with energy & enthusiasm. You will probably feel down, your self-confidence will be low & all the mundane daily tasks will begin to seem never ending – simply because you’re not looking after yourself physically & emotionally. Talk to your family, explain to them how important it is that you have a few hours a week just for yourself – so that you can look & feel better. Ask them to support you. Make a set plan so that you all know when mum’s not going to be around for an hour or so. Set the days & times that you are going to exercise & stick them on the fridge so that the whole family can see. Seeing their mum/wife looking & feeling better after a few weeks will help them to understand how important it is for you to have some time for yourself.
Get rid of negativity. Think positive. See every little bit of progress as an achievement. If you really want to go home after work but manage to make it to the gym – don’t see that as you being lazy because you had to drag yourself there – congratulate yourself because you really made the effort! Don’t get negative because things aren’t working for you as quickly as you want, or because you’ve put on a few pounds despite trying hard in the gym – congratulate yourself because you’re sticking with it & putting the effort in. By sticking with it you will get the results you are looking for – but if you let negativity in it will consume you – you’ll give up and then never reach your goals.
No more excuses. Too tired & too busy shouldn’t be excuses not to exercise. If you’re overly tired it’s probably because you’re not active – exercise actually increases your energy. Too busy? Finding just 3 or 4 hours from a whole week shouldn’t be that difficult when your health, well-being & self-confidence are at stake.