It's that time of year again; the gyms are packed and everyone is out running in the evenings, adorned with their new lycra and gleaming trainers. It's great seeing so many people getting active and making positive lifestyle changes after the indulgence of Christmas. But how do you make sure these habits stick past February? Here are our top tips:
Find something you enjoy!
Without a doubt, when you are doing something that makes you happy you will want to continue to do it. Exercise can be fun, but sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to find something you really enjoy. There are plenty of alternatives to the gym, from salsa dancing to bouldering and the main thing is that you are moving your body, getting the endorphins flowing.
Make the time for IT
It takes at least 3 weeks to form a habit, but realistically 8-12 weeks gives you a good chance of that habit sticking. Often we don't give things enough of a chance as work and family commitments begin to overtake before the routine has fully cemented itself. Why not build your fitness into your work and family life instead? Try cycling or running to work, or take your kit and get out for a little run around at lunchtime. Make a point of avoiding the lifts and escalators and even incorporate some desk exercises into your tea break. If you want to spend more time with your family why not get them involved? Schedule your exercise into your diary so that you won't fill the space with something else.
have a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail! It's normal to decide to get fit and simply spend half an hour on the treadmill plodding along a few times a week. This is far better than sitting on the couch doing nothing, but it may not give you the best results in the quickest time... and let's be honest, if we don't see results we loose interest fast! A personal trainer is the obvious way to get some advice and guidance about the best way to approach your fitness and most will also give you workouts and plans to follow. They will also help you to highlight your goals, making sure you are working out effectively to achieve these. If this isn't your thing, set yourself a timetable and try to stick to it, varying the activities and workouts you do to ensure that your body is continuing to adapt.
By far the most important tip when it comes to sticking to a new fitness routine - commitment. As mentioned, it takes a few months for a new routine to become habit and you need to be in it for the long game. There are no quick fixes, no magic pills and no fast tracks (despite what lots of people might try to sell you!) We find a good way to commit is to sign up to an event, whether a 5km fun run or an ultra-marathon. Be realistic about your ability and what you can safely push your body to. Being locked in to an event gives you the motivation to train; the sense of achievement that comes from completing the event encourages you to continue.
you can't out-train a bad diet
Most, but not all, people decide to take up exercise because they want to loose weight. This is great because it has so many positive effects, helping to boost the metabolism, burn fat and tone muscles including the heart, all of which help to improve mood and self esteem. However, the biggest influence on weight loss is diet. As they say, it's 20% exercise, 80% nutrition (or there abouts), meaning there's no point in running every evening to loose weight if you're going to come home and eat fish and chips! If you want to make your fitness routine a habit and you are starting it because you want to loose weight then you really need to address what you eat so that you achieve your goals - otherwise, again, you will not see the results and will loose interest. The topic of nutrition is a big one, not to be overlooked, and definitely in need of it's own blog post!... tbc...