Hands up if you’re planning to get fitter, healthier, or whatever else you might call it, this year. We all know the New Year can provide a fresh start for us, usually excluding New Year’s day itself, and that gyms, supermarket free from aisles and Parkruns are usually full to the brim throughout January, whilst bars, sweet shops and cookie jars are normally empty.
That’s great, but invariably, come February, or at latest March, the status quo has been re-established and we’ve all long since forgotten those tipsy resolutions we made at the dawn of the previous year. Why can’t this year be different? Well, I think it can, and here are my five steps to help you get there;
Start at home:
Not only is this a cheaper, less intrusive, quicker step to health and fitness, but it underpins (or potentially undermines) your efforts elsewhere. So this year, start by clearing all of that leftover chocolate out of your cupboards, and go shopping for the food you intend to eat. Whatever your version of eating well looks like, your fridge, freezer and cupboards need to reflect that. As a simple tip, pick a shopping night, go and buy what you need, nothing else, and then don’t spend another penny on food all week. Additionally, it will always be easier if those you live with, buy into this with you!
This has to be a hoax? Right? Well, no! There is plenty of evidence, both anecdotal and from research, to suggest that we are much more likely to stick to something that costs us money, than we are something that’s free. I know this is true for me, and I’m pretty sure it could be for you to. So whatever your preferred method of getting fitter and healthier, have a budget in mind. It could be to start cycling, study a course to cook your own meals, or maybe just an old fashioned gym membership, but either way, be prepared to spend to begin with. If that doesn’t sit easy with you, you should know whatever you spend on your new lifestyle, you’ll likely save by ditching parts of your old one. Think about all the money you spend on snacks, lattes and takeaways!
Pick a route you can grow to enjoy:
Chances are, you’re not going to enjoy what you do straight away. I certainly didn’t, but I could see that I could enjoy it. I watched others do workouts and movements that I was learning, and I was impressed, it looked fun! So if you find it interesting watching a high standard athlete do it, or at least find it impressive, chances are you can enjoy it. For me though, I was too out of shape to do much of it, and therefore I couldn’t enjoy it much to start off with. I am pretty good though, at working out what I could enjoy given time and practise. I could grow to enjoy cycling, not ice skating. Consequently, I’ve dabbled with cycling, not ice skating.
Schedule your changes in:
We all have time. The most successful people in the world are busier than you, and they still find time to better themselves, so you can too! That said, your routine and your current habits along with it, is more ingrained than you might think. You need to set aside time for your new activity, whether it’s running, weightlifting, or rock climbing, and you need to protect that time fiercely! Of course you need to protect it from other people, but also from yourself! You’ll be amazed how easily you will schedule across the top of something that isn’t yet a habit.
Give it time:
You know it’s going to fall apart within a month, or two, maybe even three. You’ve tried to change before. So be honest about your commitment levels, and plan to avoid failure. Buy a block of classes for your gym upfront that will last you six months or so. That cash investment will bind you to your goal more tightly, and help you stick to your plans. Maybe your kayaking club doesn’t offer anything other than monthly payments. Then give six months, maybe more, or membership to a trusted friend, and have them set up the monthly payment. Either way, commit to a period of time beyond your previous failure point and, combined with the tips above, you will have started enjoying your new venture, and have it established within your schedule, by the time your plans expire.
Do you have a tip for sticking with your goals? Maybe this year, you too plan on attacking your resolutions differently? Either way, let me know how you get on in the comments, and whether any of the suggestions have helped you get there.