New Year is on the horizon, and with it our faithful pledges to kick-start a new fitness programme and get in shape. But despite all the best intentions, most of us don’t manage to keep our New Year’s resolutions beyond a few weeks.
Whether your resolution is aiming towards a final goal or just because you want to improve your general fitness, writing out a workout plan is an important place to start. Committing your resolution to paper makes it more of a commitment for you. Start by looking at when you have some free time in your schedule to dedicate to your fitness programme.
If you’re stuck for ideas, see what local classes run on the evenings you’re free. If you’d rather go it alone, the NHS is a great resource of tutorials and workout plans for women and men. And remember, the plan needs to work for you, and you can always change things around as you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
If you’ve never done much regular exercise before, it’s unlikely you’ll stick to a regime that has you working out five times a week. Set yourself a workout plan that starts small and builds up over time. Start out with, say, two workouts a week and after a few weeks, once you’re used to attending those sessions regularly, add in an extra session. After a while, your workouts will feel part of your normal routine, so it’ll be easier to add in more sessions.
Sticking to your goals is far easier if there is someone else to hold you accountable. Especially if you know willpower isn’t your thing, it’s a good idea to have someone you have to answer to; you’re far less likely to swerve that evening run if you feel like you’re letting someone else down.
Find a friend or workmate with who’s taking up a similar resolution to you, and take time to understand each other’s goals. Maybe they’re training for a marathon, or trying to drop a dress size by a certain date next summer; understanding what’s behind your resolutions help you support each other to reach those goals. Agree to check in on your progress at regular intervals – say once a week, or once a month.
If you’ve set yourself a big goal – something like a half-marathon, or losing three dress sizes – it can feel beyond reach when you’re starting from scratch. Breaking it down in to mini-goals that you aim to hit at regular intervals can make the big picture seem more achievable, and having something to aim for in the short term is more likely keep you motivated.
Take a look at your workout plan and add in a few mini-goals you’d like to meet by certain points: say, being able to run for 20 minutes without stopping, or losing 4kg by 1st February. And be sure to share these mini goals with your workout buddy.
You can quickly lose motivation for keeping up your new good habits if you don’t like the things you’re doing. And it’s easy to give in to temptation of a warm, cosy sofa when it’s dark and drizzling outside. Find a way to make working towards your new goals something fun.
If spending hours on the treadmill in the gym isn’t for you, think about taking up a team sport instead or go to a class that’s social as well as a great workout. A boxing class, for example, is a great high intensity workout that will work your core muscles and cardiovascular fitness. Or something like a salsa dancing class will teach you a skill and introduce you to new people, as well as burning calories.
Sticking to a new workout plan requires time and dedication, so consider allowing yourself a treat as a reward for sticking to the programme – you might find that extra motivation helps keep you on track. Of course, if your goal is to lose weight, don’t counteract your good work in the gym with a Big Mac on the way home!
But something that won’t interfere with your ultimate end goal, that you wouldn’t normally take the time to do for yourself is a great For example, half an hour in the sauna and hot tub is a great relaxing reward after your workout, or if you hit one of the training milestones in your workout plan, treat yourself to a sports massage to restore your muscles.
It doesn’t always feel like we’re making progress, which can be disheartening and ultimately demotivating. Keeping track of how you’re improving is a great way to keep you on course to reaching your goals. Keep an eye on things like the speed you’re running at, or the weights you’re lifting and watch how they improve.
If something as measurable as running isn’t part of your usual fitness routine, try running a mile once a month and keeping a note of the time to watch your speeds getting faster. Or consider investing some wearable tech that tracks your heart rate and other indicators.