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Yesterday, the 9th of January, was the day on which, statistically, 3 out of 4 people gave up on their New Year’s resolution. Here are some tips on how to stick with it this year.
1 – Be realistic. With all the good intentions in the world, if you have done no exercise for an extended period, deciding to start marathon training this week might not be realistic. Setting yourself unachievable targets is likely to lead to failure and may not be safe. Get going slowly and build it up gradually. Keep it short and often, focusing on quality (actually working really hard in exercise) rather than quantity. Build form there!
2 – Set goals. Starting with the notion of “I’m going to get fit!” is a bit vague. Have 3 goals, a short, medium and a long term one. Write them down. Now focus on the first short term goal, keeping in mind that if you achieve this first one you are already on the way to achieving the other 2! Remember, goal one needs to be challenging but achievable. Target being able to jog for a full 20 minutes non-stop for example. 4-6 weeks is a good time frame for a first short term goal.
3 – Be accountable. When you set your goals, tell your family, friends and colleagues exactly what they are. Publish them on all the social networks that you use. Not only does this round up early support, but once your secret quest is out there the pressure of everyone knowing will help to keep you on track.
4 – Enlist support. This doesn’t just mean tell everyone you know and wait for the encouragement. The support needs to be tangible and target obstacles to success. Your family are usually closest to you, so can help the most. If you have no time for exercise because you have to look after the kids, for example, get a friend to agree that as part of the quest they will babysit twice a week for 20 minutes each. If your fellow fridge users keep it packed with temptation, ask them to keep their chocolate hidden from now on.
5 – Get a partner. Batman and Robin. Morecombe and Wise. Everything is much easier with a friend. Embark on your quest with someone you know that has similar goals. You will provide each other with invaluable camaraderie, support, accountability and encouragement.
6 – Timing. The 2nd of January might not be the best time to start. Don’t put it off indefinitely, but don’t start just as a huge work project kicks off. Try to find a week when there are fewer possible obstacles and distractions.
7 – Self-congratulate. Rather than focus on the things that you may have failed to do, think about the ones you have succeeded in. Add up all your exercises sessions in a week. 10 lunges may not sound too good, but if you did them twice in each session, and did 3 short sessions, that’s 30 lunges! Much more impressive.
8 – Be persistent. It is highly unlikely that everything will go to plan. Expect setbacks, take them in your stride, and move on with what you have learned.
9 – Get professional help. It might only be for a session a week, or a few initial sessions, but by hiring a personal trainer you will actually get all of the above! Encouragement, support, someone there with you as you exercise, a professional to plan your nutrition and workouts, plus certain accountability.