The beginning of a new year often brings about several mantras, one of the most common being “New Year, New You”. While this sounds quite promising, it also can sound a bit conceited and perhaps a little unrealistic. I do like the idea of starting afresh with a new year, setting goals, and targets and reflecting on how things perhaps didn’t go exactly as we wanted in the past year. However, particularly with fitness, it is important to do this at your own pace and in a way that feels right. We need to be able to stick to our resolutions and maintain them as a way of life rather than a shock decision following the slight excess of the holidays that is unobtainable long term!
This is a little guide for the fitness newbies out there who want to start getting into shape this year!
Maybe this isn’t the first time that you’ve tried, perhaps it is even the tenth. So how are we going to ensure that things finally work this time??
Much like with everything in life, we must be careful not to overcomplicate matters. If this is going to be a change in lifestyle rather than a change for the first quarter of the year, then it needs to be something that you can stick to. So, this means, no extreme diets and no extreme exercise!
There are three incredibly important elements that we need to adhere to in order to succeed!
- Education: It is important to know how to get in shape.
- Motivation: why are you getting in shape?
- Support: having people around you who will cheer you on in your journey.
Set some goals. This is very dependent on your current fitness levels. For some people setting a goal is the best way to achieve results. If you choose to set yourself a goal, make it an achievable goal (think SMART goals!) This may be learning a new sport, or losing x amount of weight, or eating more greens than before.
If you are someone who struggles with the notion of setting goals, aim to create new habits. Perhaps start with walking to work in the mornings, or taking the stairs instead of the lift. Regardless of your method of choice you must be very purposeful with your actions. Write your goals down, be specific, add notes to your calendar or to your blackboard!
Eat right. An inevitable and central element to your education will involve cleaning up your diet. As they say you cannot out train a bad diet! BBC Good Food have a good starter guide, providing a month of healthy (and delicious) recipes to kickstart your year.
One of the main reasons that people fail at diets is that they try to make too many changes in one go. Start slowly, and progressively, pick a change every couple of weeks and stick to it. An easy way to start is to start cooking for yourself more, drink lots of water and one thing I always love to do is to make sure that my plate is as colourful as possible! Remember small changes can lead to big changes over time!
Select the right activity. If this is going to be something you stick to, it will be a lot easier if you find an activity that you enjoy! Don’t feel limited by the gym, maybe you are more a yogi, or a climber, or perhaps even rollerblading is more your thing!
Why do you want to get in shape? Do you have a particular reason? Understanding why will make setting a goal much easier and will also keep your focus. Think about your reason! Write it down, keep it somewhere where you will see it throughout the day. It will never be an easy journey, but having an inspiration and a motivation to do so will help you push through the days when you feel ready to give up!
Support: Find your back up team!
Whether it’s a workout buddy or a fitness mentor, it will always be easier (and of course more enjoyable) if you find some support. Having someone to workout with, whether it’s a fitness buddy or a mentor, will provide much needed encouragement and inspiration.
Some additional pointers:
Don’t let intimidation stop you. Simply walking through the front door of the gym, (or climbing wall, dance school) can be overwhelming. There is no rocket science here unfortunately. As Nike aptly put it, “just do it!” You will be surprised at how rapidly that initial fear disappears.
Don’t be afraid to ask. If you choose to go to a gym, or embark on a new activity, many people feel intimidated by the unknown. The only way around this (and by far and away the safest) is to ask! If you are going to a gym take advantage of the classes on offer. Not only are they free but they will help you to feel more comfortable in the gym.
Too much choice! Particularly as the new year comes around, the range of choices can be overwhelming! How do you know which route is best for you??? This feeling can often leave us feeling paralysed. As a beginner, the important thing is to start moving, so try a few things, and stick to the one that you enjoy the most! As time goes on you will no doubt refine your routine
Think tortoise, not hare. Don’t expect results overnight and stay away from any program promising you results within a week. In order to succeed, it is important to modify your mindset to one of gradual progress, rather than immediate achievement. The hardest part of this is to maintain this approach throughout, even through failures. If you stick with it, and keep working hard, you will get better. The crucial thing is to not quit!
Don’t forget to drink up! Staying hydrated while exercising is extremely important. Get yourself one of these fantastic Mizu Water Bottles! There is no need to glug huge amounts, just be sure to sip occasionally. This will help to prevent any stitches or cramping.
Recovery is an important part of keeping fit. Particularly if you are not accustomed to doing exercise, chances are that you may feel a little tired and weak. Don’t be alarmed by this! Take your time and start progressively.
Take things one step at a time. Be patient with your journey. Forgive yourself when you mess up, and love yourself when you succeed.
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