Most people will feel inspired to make a New Year’s resolution – usually, it’s losing weight or getting fit, spurred on by the excesses of the festive period and the feeling of “new year, new start”.
So, what’s the best way to keep your New year’s resolution on track, rather than losing momentum after a couple of weeks and lapsing back into being a January couch potato?
Surveys show most people’s New Year resolution is to be healthier or lose weight. However, if you start out with the wrong attitude by expecting instant, significant results, you’re more likely to fail. When you find it’s a slower process than anticipated, you can lose heart and find excuses to duck out of training.
Psychologists say we have more chance of success if we split our resolution into small goals that contribute towards our end result. The goals should be measurable and specific, so that we’re not looking at one huge task that seems daunting and can deter us from completing it.
Instead, if you have a number of small goals that you can complete along the way, you’re more likely to achieve your final goal, whether it’s losing a larger amount of weight, or running a half-marathon.
Set yourself a goal of losing a specific amount of weight in a measured time scale, or of running a certain number of kilometres by a certain date. Make sure the goals you’re setting are achievable, as there’s nothing more soul destroying than missing a target – it can actually deter you from continuing your journey to fitness.
To help you stick to your resolution, there are a number of recognised, basic steps to fitness and these include eating better and exercising more. When you’re aiming to lose weight, the basic steps are there to reduce your net calorie intake.
This means you must burn off more calories through taking part in activities, so that your daily calorie intake enables you to lose weight. It’s important to do so in a sustainable manner, so you’re losing body fat, instead of decreasing your total weight, including muscle.
It’s also sensible to reduce your calorie intake gradually, instead of suddenly putting yourself on a harsh diet, as your life will become a living nightmare and you’ll be craving food if you suddenly make a drastic reduction in food intake.
Try tracking your calorie intake for a week using the MyFitnessPal app to find out if your weight remains steady on your daily intake. If you find your weight has remained constant, try reducing your daily intake by 200 calories to start off with and set yourself a new target.
Then, start adding exercise sessions – again, set smaller targets, perhaps exercising three times a week to start off with and then increasing it to five times a week. Then, reduce your food intake by say another 200 calories per day.
If you move forward in this way, it will be possible to maintain your calorie target beyond a few weeks’ duration. Eating and exercising by following a sensible, gradual plan means you won’t start feeling exhausted by suddenly cutting your food intake and launching into a gruelling exercise regime in the space of a few days.
When you hit a target, you can treat yourself to a small amount of your favourite food as a reward. As long as you don’t suddenly binge, a small treat won’t do you any harm.
Establish a diet that you can use to reach fitness goals and also maintain over a longer period of time. Ideally, around 80% of your food should be wholefoods. This means unprocessed foods such as fish, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and wholegrains. The remaining 20% can include treats.
By eating a small amount of something you’re craving, this can stop you from suddenly hitting the fridge and binging if you’ve been depriving yourself altogether.
Getting fitter isn’t difficult to achieve. Plan your fitness routine using your favourite sports, your most accessible forms of exercise and your active hobbies, even if this is simply walking the dog, or pushing a toddler round in a pram, for example. You need a sensible balance between these three factors to create an effective and enjoyable exercise regime.
An ideal way to keep fit is by resistance training, either at the gym or at your home. By steadily increasing the intensity over a period of time, you can achieve continuous results. By increasing the resistance or weight, the number of reps, the length of your session or the difficulty of the exercises, you will start to feel the benefits.
Try completing these core sessions two to four times per week and then add exercise classes or sports around them to improve your cardiovascular fitness and co-ordination and burn more calories. Going to a gym can even enhance your social life, as you will meet like-minded people.
Combine working out at the gym with a more active general lifestyle such as walking rather than taking the car on shorter journeys, or even cycling to work. Make small changes gradually and you will realise one day that they are combining into a big change and that your New Year’s resolution is still on track, months down the line.
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