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10 ways to stick to your New Year's fitness resolutions

Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman shares 10 ways to stick to your 2019 fitness resolutions

Achieve your health and fitness goals in 2018.
Achieve your health and fitness goals in 2018.

By Alan Waterman

As the first week of January 2019 comes to a close, it’s worth asking ourselves how those resolutions are going.

Maybe we’re off to a flying start, maybe we’re struggling to get going, or maybe we’ve even already given up…

Truth is, many of us notice a bit of a theme with setting our New Year’s goals (especially fitness ones) and ultimately failing to achieve them.

Yet, every January, we find ourselves setting the exact same ones, convinced that this is 'going to be our year'.

But if the end of 2018 felt a lot like the end of 2017, it’s probably a fairly good sign that those resolutions didn’t last so well either.

I'm saying forget about setting those New Year’s fitness resolutions, and instead follow my 10-step blueprint below for a successful year in fitness and weight loss.

1. Take things slow

It might be tempting to throw yourself head-first into a full-blown, hard and heavy training and diet approach because after all, you want results ASAP.

But burn-out, injury, or reality eventually set in once we realize how difficult it is to maintain such an intense programme around all our other priorities.

Although you'll not see results as quickly with a less demanding, less intense training and diet programme, it’s a better way to guarantee that we’ll be able to continue training across the long-term, and ultimately achieve better results, rather than burning out after a few weeks.

2. Don’t make too many changes at once

Although we might feel that we need to be making dozens of changes (especially if we’ve chosen to follow a specific diet like low-carb, paleo, etc.), aiming to do so all at once is a sure-fire way to guarantee short-lived results.

For many of us, it’s simply too overwhelming, especially as we can be dealing with attempting to change decades-old habits overnight. Instead, by only aiming to make a small handful of changes at once, we can have a much greater chance of those new habits actually sticking, compared to attempting to develop 10 or 20 all at the same time.

Again, it may seem slower, but if we can keep it up long-term, those results are much more likely to be sustainable.

3. Avoid quick fixes

Crash diets? Transformation programmes? You may want to give these a miss.

Yes, the appeal of reaching those weight loss goals quickly might be there, but the more extreme an approach we take to reach those goals, the less likely we are to maintain those results.

It might not seem ideal to take it slow but if we have a greater likelihood of being able to maintain our results, it’s a much better route to go down.

How do we know if something might feel too extreme, or may be unsustainable for us? If we can’t see ourselves doing the same thing in a year’s time, then it’s likely on the extreme side.

4. Achieve balance

Has the gym become your sole focus? Find yourself spending all your free time prepping your food into Tupperware?

It may be taking over all your other priorities a little too much. It’s incredibly important that we’re managing to balance our fitness pursuits alongside our work, family, friends, and hobbies if we’re to avoid those other areas suffering for it.

Yes, we want to get healthy, lose weight and improve our health, but it rarely should come at the expense of our other priorities. A more relaxed approach is usually best for the majority of us - one which we can find much easier to balance with all the other areas of our lives.

5. Don’t go it alone

New to the gym? Struggled with achieving results in the past or not sure what is the right approach for you?

Many people avoid hiring personal trainers or coaches to help, usually due to the financial expense.

But for those of us who feel a little lost or intimidated when starting out, it is often the best route to go down to make sure we get off to the best possible start, avoid damaging our own relationship with food and stay clear of building toxic habits.

Aim to pick one who comes recommended to you, and if you find that you don’t feel well treated or don’t click with your trainer, don’t stick with them!

It’s incredibly important to feel comfortable and have a good connection with your coach, as we all deserve to get as much out of our experience (and money) as possible.

6. Be realistic

That two stone you want to lose by the end of January? That 10K you want to be able to run in 4 weeks, despite never running a day in your life?

Sorry, but they’re probably not going to happen. Although people hate being told that patience is key to getting results, it really is the honest answer.

Weight loss can be a slow (albeit steady) process, and building fitness and strength takes time.

It’s important to accept this, as it can prevent us from becoming demotivated when our progress seems slower than we maybe initially expected it to be. Having ambitious goals is great, but we need to be realistic in our thinking- the more ambitious those goals are, the longer it will probably take to achieve them.

7. Make yourself accountable

It can be a lot more tempting to to lose focus when we don’t have anything in place to make sure we’re going to do the things we said we would.

Making it public to those around us gives a much bigger incentive to keep ourselves on track, especially as we will typically more often settle for disappointing ourselves rather than disappointing others. As well as this, we might even gain a bit of a support network for the times when we might feel we need it.

8. Build your plan around your lifestyle

The key word to long-term success is sustainability. What we find sustainable is largely dependent on how well it actually suits us to follow a given approach.

Building that approach around our lifestyle by making sure it’s convenient for us to follow, that it’s within our own budget, avoids extremes, and that it’s not overly time-demanding or stressful are important considerations for making our approach sustainable, and one that can keep producing results across the long-term.

9. Get moving

Believe it or not, it’s not just the work we do in the gym that matters.

Realistically, an hour of activity in the gym a few times a week won’t do an awful lot to help us lose weight if we’re barely moving outside of that.

Our non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT - the energy that we burn during general daily activity) makes up a huge proportion of the total calorie burn we achieve throughout the course of the day, and generally sedentary lifestyles (through desk-based jobs, etc.) often mean that our NEAT levels are very low.

The easiest way to track and increase our NEAT is by monitoring our daily step count. A great target to build towards is 10,000 steps daily, however, if we discover that we’re initially very far off that target, it’s probably best to treat it as a gradual process, building towards it over a period of weeks or months.

10. Turn your attention to your intentions

Previously struggled to maintain momentum or motivation? You’ve maybe allowed your focus to drift too much away from what it is you’re actually trying to achieve.

Being clear on our goals is incredibly important as they are something that we need to constantly remind ourselves of. After all, how can we be motivated to achieve them if we’ve lost sight of what they are?!

By actively paying attention to what it is we’re trying to do, and by constantly reminding ourselves of them, it becomes a lot easier to maintain our focus on those goals and can help maintain the momentum we need in working towards them.

Want more help getting your 2019 off to a great start? Download my free guide to losing weight, getting fit, and improving your health here.

You can also check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for weight loss and lifestyle tips, and daily content.

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