There’s something about starting a brand new diary that makes us look ahead as well as backwards; there’s a whole raft of blank pages ahead of you, full of possibility.
You’ll quite possibly spend the last two weeks of the year eating, drinking and not doing very much else. You’re in danger of no longer being a couch potato, but actually becoming the couch. The siren call of an exercise program is beckoning you, and you’ve never been so eager to start, but there’s one huge problem – you’ve been here before, and you know that willpower and time work against you in pincer movement, stopping you in your tracks by mid Feb at the latest. Here are some ways to help you bust through that mental wall that somehow fell from the sky.
Tell the world
Observed behavior is changed behavior. If no one knows about your exercise aspirations then it becomes too easy to give up and slip back into old familiar habits. If others know about your goals then you are more likely to want to strive to show them that you CAN do it, no matter what they might think. So dose up on social pressure and go out there and prove them wrong!
Commit to something that’s more than just a thought
Sign up for an event such as a half marathon, or a virtual fitness challenge such as The Conqueror Route 66 or length of Britain challenges.
These sorts of fitness challenges are not only a great way to set a measurable goal in a specific timeframe, they also mean that you’ve got some skin in the game which should help you through the inevitable troughs in your motivation.
The only way you’ll fail is if you stop
So, how ‘bout them troughs in motivation? Well here’s the inside word – they occur to Every. Single. Person. regardless on whether they are getting off the couch for first time or training for the Olympics.
No matter how dedicated you are, illness, family, hangovers, work, pets, parties, partners and even the weather will all get in the way at some point and these can derail your exercise regime in the blink of an eye. When these things occur, the key is to switch your focus away from trying to make gains and putting it on to simply trying to maintain your routine.
That means you don’t have to thrash yourself at the gym or on a run if you’re sick or you’re feeling low – you just have to go and if you can’t go you just have to get back on the wagon as soon as you can, that’s all that matters during troughs.
You can’t always predict when life throws you a curveball but you can be assured that it will happen and it will keep happening. Expect it and don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals.
You’re not a professional athlete, so don’t set yourself up with a zero to hero training plan that will guarantee that you burn out in a month.
If you scare yourself off at the start by making it hurt too much then those muscles of yours are going to do everything they can to convince that brain of yours to give that shit up and get back in to your happy place. It might be next year before you’re brave enough to have another crack at it!
If you’re starting out or starting over in the new year, be kind to yourself. Start off with a focus to simply build a regular exercise habit and work your way up to more strenuous or longer sessions from there – you’re in this for the long haul remember.
Your goals are your goals…
…and your race is your race. You might be technically in competition with other athletes or your exercise buddy might be miles ahead of you on whichever challenge you’re taking part in, but when it comes down to it, there’s only one end goal, and one prize; your physical fitness and health.
So kick the excuses; get out that diary now and start making plans. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain (or maybe the other way around). Here’s to a leaner, stronger, healthier new year!