By Niall Ebbs
ACE Personal Trainer, Health Coach, Weight Management Specialist
Often, when starting out on an exercise routine, we tend to dive in head-first without much thought given to the mapping out of what we want to achieve. This is especially true around New Year’s when we make a resolution to implement drastic changes to our lifestyle and/or exercise habits. Thought these sentiments are well-intended, it’s often a knee-jerk response to over-indulgences over the festive season. Time for planning and goal setting takes the back seat to the need for instant action to be taken. If this sounds familiar, don’t dismay. You just need a nudge in the right direction.
The reality is that proper planning, with the caveat that patience is required, will set you up for long-term success and not just a short-term feeling of satisfaction. Unfortunately, in the case of New Year’s exercise resolutions, there is a steep drop off a few weeks or months into a new regimen. The reason for this is simply because it’s usually a case of too much too soon without adequate planning. A failure to prepare, after all, can be a preparation for failure.
Here are some easy ways for you to combat this:
- Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals: This simple acronym – which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound – is a great way to establish both a reasonable goal and a timeline within which you can achieve it. For example, rather than saying “I want to lose weight” it would better to say “I’d like to lose a stone (14 pounds) by 14 weeks from today”. This sets the stage for the achievement of a specific and realistic one pound a week in weight loss, which can be measured weekly for progress, and gives a definite and achievable timeline.
- Develop Social Accountability: Make your goals public, if appropriate to do so, or at least share them with someone who will help to keep you accountable. If you make a goal and keep it to yourself, it is easy to lose the motivation to put in the work. Telling someone else, or informing a wider audience, will help to provide a little extra extrinsic (external) motivation which can really boost your efforts and keep you on track.
- Befriend Like-Minded Individuals: Misery loves company, right? So too does success and aspiration! If you spend time with people who sit around and mope, you’re likely to do the same. Get out there and spend time with folks who also want to make positive and healthy changes. Join or start a walking group, sign up for group fitness classes, attend a seminar about healthy eating, the list of possibilities is endless. The main thing to remember is that if you maintain a mindset that is focused on change, the change will happen.
- Eating for Success: Nutritional tweaking is inevitable, but don’t look at making healthy eating changes as “starting a diet”. In fact, remove this word from your vocab altogether. The word ‘diet’ implies a short-term change. Instead, plan to “eat healthier”. Throw away the temptations and keep the quick healthy snacks within reach. Eat fresh, whole, colourful, fibre and protein-rich foods, and minimize saturated fat and sugar. Make meals for multiple days – bulk prep is a godsend in times when you get home and are searching the fridge for a healthy option in a hurry.
To get more great advice from Niall, follow him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ebbsfitness
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