Standing on Carlton Hill in chilly Scotland I was lucky enough to see in the New Year with my girlfriend and good friends. Hundreds of people could be seen lining the streets of Edinburgh below as the traditional Hogmanay street party reached its climax. The clock struck 12 and the fireworks lit up the sky in a blaze of colour, marking the dawn of 2015 and a fresh start for us all.
By now the Christmas season will have taken its toll on even the most dedicated and motivated individuals and many of us will now feel the burning desire to hit the reset button and kick-start 2015 with a burst of new-found enthusiasm. For the best chance of success this year, try to consider these three factors before rolling head first into your new routine.
Sit down with good old fashion pen and paper and a write out a typical week, jot down all the time available to exercise. Early mornings, sneaky lunch time sessions and any longer weekend runs or walks, or your favourite classes. Before you go too far though, avoid the temptation to fill every sustainable slot with something, you are full of enthusiasm right now but can you really keep up a relentless pace? The key here is to be realistic and plan a week that is manageable with your work and home life as well as your current fitness level. Don’t rush into a gym membership in week one of the New Year, many classes offer complimentary sessions this time of year and are a great way of testing the water.
Spending some time in setting goals will work to motivate you long after the first few weeks of the New Year have passed. These goals should be both realistic and manageable but also suitably challenging to give you that push to work hard for them. Weight loss goals should be based on steady weight loss of 1-2lb per week to make losses sustainable long term. Activity goals could be tied into reaching the recommended levels of physical activity each week or alternatively events such as a local Park Run 5K (link) or Race for life (link) for example. Next set a date in the diary for when you would like to achieve this goal and make sure that it is achievable and manageable based on the time you have available. Copy out this date and display it in strategic places to remind, re-enforce and motivate you throughout the days and weeks.
Moderation and consistency
By far the most important part of any lifestyle change is moderation and consistency. This applies to changes in diet, increases in activity levels and increasing your distance or speed for a given race/event. Big unrealistic overambitious changes all at once are almost always doomed to failure resulting in a relapse back into old habits. Introduce changes gradually and build on them over time. This may be increasing your daily fruit and veg up to the 5 a day target or cutting down on sugary treats such as chocolate. Cutting everything out at once will leave you craving and will distract away from the positive changes you are making.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try new things. We all struggle from time to time and if you miss a training session or eat a bad meal don’t let it demoralise you. Moderation and consistency over time always wins out over faddy diets, weight loss products and fitness crazes. If a new food or exercise is not for you then move on and try something new. The trick is to make it fun and enjoyable, whether that is exercise, racing or eating.
Good Luck and a Happy New Year from Fundamentally FIT