We are now a couple of months into a bright and shiny new year. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Still sticking to them?I thought not.
By now, most people will have fallen behind on their New Year’s resolutions, if not abandoned them completely. Fitness goals are one of the most common types of resolutions made at the start of a new year. It is a great time to recognize that your fitness is important to you, and is not yet where you want it to be. However, fitness shouldn’t be approached as a one-off push at a certain time of year, but rather a whole lifestyle change.
Here’s some ideas on how to make your fitness goals stick not just for a few weeks in January, but permanently!
Keep Your Goals Achievable
One of the main reasons people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions and fitness goals more generally is that they set targets which are too large and difficult to achieve. Although it’s great to dream big, the problem with setting an unrealistic goal is that when you inevitably start to fail you become disheartened and give up entirely. Rather, you should set smaller goals that you know you will be able to achieve. Most importantly, when you have achieved one goal, keep going! Set your next achievable goal, and once you achieve that one set the next, and so on. Before you know it you will have far surpassed the large original goal you may have set for yourself.
Also, Keep Your Goals Specific and Measurable
Along with being achievable, your fitness goals should be as specific as possible, and something that you can easily measure and therefore track your progress. For example “work out more” or “go to yoga class” are too vague and general, making it harder to keep on track. More specific and measurable goals would be something like “do weights training for 45 minutes three times a week” or “go to yoga class four mornings per week”.
Make Time For Fitness
It is all very well to set a goal to go to the gym three times a week or do yoga every day, but if you do not make time in your schedule this is simply not going to happen. Sit down with your schedule and block out times for your fitness routine. These time blocks should of course match the times you have set in your fitness goals! If you struggle to find time to exercise, try to break it into smaller blocks of time which are easier to fit into your day: get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning to work out, take a walk or a quick class on your lunch break, or go for a run in the evening after dinner.
Sticking to a fitness routine doesn’t have to mean doing the same kinds of exercise all the time. Keep things interesting (and yourself motivated) by mixing up your activities. Intersperse your regular fitness activities with things like dance classes or Zumba. Change up the location of your workouts – instead of running in your neighborhood or on a treadmill, drive to the beach and go for a run there, or go hiking in the mountains. Keeping things as fresh and interesting as possible is the key to a long-term fitness regime.
Include the Right Foods in your Diet
A successful fitness regime goes far beyond how many hours you are putting in at the gym. The food you eat is critical to getting fit and sticking your routine. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean cutting the amount of food you eat, but rather making sure you are eating the right kinds of food. Swap out foods such as processed foods and those high in salt, sugar and low-GI carbohydrates for more fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Don’t Go Cold Turkey If Quitting Smoking
Getting fit as a cigarette smoker is virtually impossible: the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke attack the lungs and the body more generally, causing breathlessness, reducing oxygen levels in the blood and restricting blood flow on top of that. All of this greatly gets in the way of your work out! If quitting smoking is part of your fitness resolutions, don’t underestimate how challenging this will be. The majority of people who try to quit smoking fail the first few times at least, many because they try to quit “cold turkey”. Use cessation aids such as nicotine gum or e-cigarettes, which have been recommended by experts such as Public Health England as an effective tool to quit smoking. You can easily buy vaping equipment at online stores like vapemate, to help you step down your nicotine intake gradually and kick the habit for good.
Get Peer Support
Establishing and sticking to a fitness routine, not to mention specific aspects such as quitting smoking, can be challenging. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone: having peer support, particularly others who are on the same journey as you, can make all the difference in being successful in meeting your goals. Invite friends or colleagues to join you for certain activities, such as fitness classes, hiking or running. Adding a social element to your workouts not only makes things more fun, but it can also help to keep you accountable.
Self-love and believing in yourself is the key to being successful in many aspects of your life. No more so than when it comes to establishing a fit and healthy lifestyle. Cultivate positive self-talk and cut the negative. Instead of berating yourself for only doing 20 minutes of exercise today instead of 30, congratulate yourself for what you did manage to achieve and tell yourself that you can do more tomorrow! Allow yourself plenty of acts of self-care and self-love, and remember that getting fit and healthy is an act of self-love in itself.
It is essential to approach your health and fitness as part of a wide-ranging change to your lifestyle, rather than a push at a specific time of the year, whether it is for a new year, for your wedding, or to lose weight for a specific event. A complete lifestyle change is the only way to make lasting, meaningful change to your health and fitness.