New Year, New You

5 do’s and don’ts of new year’s health resolutions

It’s January and in the fitness industry that means one thing: a surge of new people joining gyms and hoping the reach their fitness and physique goals. Without wanting to come across as overly pessimistic, most of these people will fail. In this blog post I want to highlight some dos and don’ts to give as many people as possible the foundations they need to succeed.

Don’t try to achieve everything in the first month. Do set some foundation building goals

When goal setting you should think BIG, and develop a goal that exceeds your wildest dreams. However, you must get the foundations right. Losing 10 kg does not just involve losing weight. It must begin with the foundational habits that set you up for sustainable and healthy weight loss. Don’t try to achieve it all in the first month. Have a deadline for your goal, but start thinking about the stepping stones that lead you there. For example, I always set my new clients an initial goal of using the gym 10 times in their first month of training. It doesn’t matter what they do, as long as they make the time to use the gym. Think about some the basic behaviours you need to achieve your target. The smallest changes, when accumulated can produce the most profound results. When it comes to your goals, think big, but start small.

Don’t worry about specifics. Do things generally right initially

Something I have seen all too often in the fitness industry is analysis paralysis. Everything gets placed on hold to make time for the hunt for the holy grail – the best eating and exercise regime (of which there is none). There is no right way, only an optimal way; and what is optimal today may not be optimal tomorrow. Put your efforts towards getting things generally right (e.g. actually using the gym, avoiding alcohol, etc.) and worry about the specifics at a later date when you have the foundations of your plan in place. Much like the advice above, the sentiments here are to win some easy battles (pick some low hanging fruit in office jargon) and fight the tougher battles from a position of strength.

Don’t go it alone. Do speak to a professional for advice

Many people want to get things going on their own and see how they get on before turning to a professional for help. This is especially true in January when everyone is broke and the extra expense of a trainer is a crazy idea. However, getting started on the right foot is incredibly important and can make or break your endeavours. Take advantage of trainers touting for work and get some free consultations in which you can discuss your goals and get some suggestions as to how best to get started. A good trainer should see the value of giving you a few snippets of good advice and keep you coming to the gym. If all else fails, contact me and I’ll offer some sage advice for as long as you need it (or until I block you).

Don’t worry if your first few sessions feel tough, this is natural. Do test and retest your fitness after one, five and ten sessions to see that things are actually improving.

There is no escaping it, getting fit is tough. It also comes with a load of positives so it is not all doom and gloom, but initially you will feel like crap. It is best you acknowledge that now rather than be shocked when you’re struggling to walk after your first session. The second, third and fourth sessions are often the worst as they are haunted by the memories of the discomfort of the first! However, the discomfort you feel drives adaptation, and to recognise these adaptations you must perform fitness tests. They don’t need to be complicated lab based testing protocols, just something that ties in with your overall goal. For example, how far can you walk/run in 12 minutes is a simple test of VO2 max (maximal aerobic capacity), max press ups in a minute is a simple upper body strength test and max plank hold is a simple trunk strength test. During your first session, do a fitness test and note your results. After five sessions, redo the test and see the difference. Do the same after ten sessions and notice how well your body is responding to your training. For real beginners, the remarkable thing is that all aspects of fitness tend to improve no matter what training programme you are doing. Seeing some tangible results (away from the scales) can be a powerful motivational tool.

Don’t worry if motivation dips. Do make yourself a motivational video

Despite what the fitness industry sales people will try to have you believe, achieving your goals will take time. During this time, it is inevitable that your motivation will dip or you will be distracted by other matters. The trick is to not panic when this happens; pre-empt it! When you are riding high on a crest of motivated enthusiasm, film a selfie video of yourself instructing your future self to stick with it and not give in. When you need it, this video can be an incredibly powerful tool for finding your back to that positive head space you were in initially.

Hopefully these titbits of advice will help in some way. It is the most basic of behaviours that set the foundations for successful fitness plans. Get these right and you will have the platform from which you can achieve anything you want. Get them wrong and the whole thing comes crashing down. Good luck.

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