January 3, 2019

fitness

New Year, New You: 5 tips to get your fitness goals up and running

AND IT’S OVER just like that.

Christmas has been and gone in a flash and as we hit January, our attention turns to the New Year and ways we can become better versions of ourselves.

First of all,  I hope you had a fantastic Christmas with family and friends, and enjoyed the festivities with plenty of food, drink and nights out with those closest to you.

For a lot of us, New Year goals tend to focus around health, wellness and fitness — but finding that motivation and drive after the Christmas period can be difficult.

Generally, the first few steps are always the hardest and the biggest hurdle to overcome, but once you negotiate the first obstacle, it will become a little easier to see the goals you have set ahead.

Today, I’m going to outline the best approach to go about setting your goals for 2019, and five steps to help you stay on track in the long run.

Sit down and set your goals

It sounds very simple but I guarantee you a lot of us don’t do this.

This January I encourage you to sit down with a pen and paper and list down goals that you want to work towards and achieve this year.

Having short to long-term goals are something I believe works very well.

A short-term goal could be something as basic as aiming to take three litres of water on board a day for the first seven days of your new healthy lifestyle — allowing that to become a new good habit and moving on from there.

A medium-term goal could be to do a couple of 5-10k runs and work towards that long-term goal of a half-marathon, for example.

Start small and build up from there

A lot of the time I see people attack their goals full on from the get-go.This is great that you have the drive and motivation initially but sometimes we might have just gone into the deep end too early on which can only lead us to falling off the wagon in a few weeks.

The best option here is to take it steady and build yourself back up taking it one step forward at a time.

It is very common for people to dive straight into the deep end. Over the years, I have seen this happen to many and it only leads to burnout, injury or loss of interest within a couple of weeks — start small and go from there.

Choose the right path

We have all seen the contrast in the gym between December and January — the gym to yourself at Christmas and the queues for the treadmills come January.

If you’re setting a goal for yourself, make the journey something that you’ll actually enjoy.

Many will walk into a commercial gym in January and sign up for their 12-month special offer. Having worked in these gyms, I have seen many people follow this path and come March a lot of them are nowhere to be seen.

It is great that you have a goal to get fit and want to improve your health but my advice is to look at the different avenues out there before going down this route — you don’t always need a gym to improve your health and fitness.

The options now are endless — hikes, running, walks, biking or swimming to even a variety of clubs from yoga, pilates, running clubs to the endless amount of small studios and local clubs dotted around the country offering plenty of activities.

Get the basics right again

Let’s face it, over the last few weeks the basics were thrown out the window and that’s fair enough as it was Christmas after all.

Back then there was plenty of TV and Netflix, good food, alcohol and late nights on offer so it’s fair to say we drank a little less water, ate a little more, moved a little less and slept a little less.

My best advice here over the next week or so is to get back on track with the basics before you get a little more specific with your goals.

Water – I recommend starting your day with a glass of water and shooting for a total daily intake of 2.5-4 litres, depending on the individual.

Food – The 70/30 or even 60/40 approach was perhaps what we all went for the last few weeks which gave a little more leeway to enjoy the nice treats over the festive period. At this stage most of us are sick of eating Christmas food and ready to get back on track. My advice is to clean up the diet and get on the 80/20 approach. I have written about this before and you can find all that information here.

Sleep – This is another pretty basic rule that people need to focus on. It is an area that lets down many when chasing their fitness goals. Believe or not, it’s not the training or food plan you’re on that is not always working, a lot of the time it’s the fact you’re not getting the basics right first. Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night is one of the fundamental rules when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle.

Visualise, write down and assess your goals

I am a big believer in writing down your goals for the year ahead and using daily reminders to keep you on track in getting after those targets.

I have talked about using a journal and logging your daily progress or even having a visualisation board to put all your goals on show for the year as another useful way of helping you out.

As for assessing your goals, I like to say, ‘if you’re not assessing your really only guessing.’

I would suggest you test and retest your progress every four-six weeks and this is something you could do towards the end of January.

This could be anything from re-testing your body fat readings, comparing and repeating a benchmark workout or something as simple as re-testing your mobility/flexibility work that you started doing daily.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information, you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.