How are you doing with your resolutions for 2020? If you’ve made some vows to get fitter and healthier but finding it hard to stick to, you’re not alone, says second life fitness expert Livia Francis…
The January frenzy is passing and many people may have fallen off their New Year’s resolution wagon, especially when it comes to health and fitness.
In fact the 10th of January is known as ‘Quitter’s Day’ – the fateful day when your motivation may begin to falter. So how do you keep going and stick to what you’ve planned?
If you’re falling into the quitter category then there is something you can do to make it easier, and that’s to look at taking smaller steps towards your bigger goals. Dr Susan Weinschenk, author of How To Get People To Do Stuff, says it’s crucial not to set large, vague goals, but instead pick small, achievable targets.
How do we set smaller targets?
Research has shown that setting smaller goals is the best approach, according to Dr Claire Garnett of UCL, but still keeping a long-term vision in mind. As an example, you might work towards competing in a 5K race, something you can do with the Couch to 5K program, or have a go at a triathlon.
But it could also easily be something like fitting back into a much-loved suit or dress for a party. Something that can provide ongoing motivation. Keep setting new goals until you hit the biggie.
Tracking your behaviour to see your progress also plays an important part of sustaining your long term goal and helps to stop you cheating.
It’s also helpful to make specific plans for how to manage tricky situations such as dinner parties, or cocktails after work. Plan in what you’re going to eat and drink, and keep a note of any deviations! It’ll make you more aware.
There’s a huge range of free apps that can track weightloss and activity, such as MyFitnessPal, and research shows that keeping track helps you, well, keep on track.
The older you get…
…it’s in 10 or 20 years’ time that the benefits will come back to reward you
The importance of a healthy lifestyle is vital to your health in the future. We are not just talking about the now, but thinking of our future self.
Health matters will play a huge part in quality of later life and small changes, taken every day, will have a significant impact in years to come.
What you do now will help you immediately, of course. But it’s in 10 or 20 years’ time that the benefits will come back to reward you.
Making new habits
I have been in the health and fitness industry for 31 years and every year I see everyone doing the January fitness and dieting fad! But the sad fact is that many people set the bar too high and feel disillusioned by February.
It takes time to build new habits. In fact, it takes up to 66 days to form a habit, according to Dr Jeremy Dean, author of Making Habits – Breaking Habits. And the trick is about making sustainable changes, not massive overhauls.
“The true aim of personal change is to turn our minds away from miracle cures and quick fixes, and adopt a long-term strategy,” he explains. “Habit change isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.”
It’s not too late!
Maybe you’ve fallen by the wayside already, but it doesn’t have to be 1st January to make changes. Do it now.
Here’s my top tips for creating and sticking to a healthy plan:
Get some support
Probably the most important aspect whenever you decide to introduce new habits. Tell everyone, and be accountable! Get support from your family, your colleagues and your friends. Social media is perfect for sourcing support in any challenge that you take on. Or find an accountability partner.
Make the goals realistic
As I’ve said above, improve your long term chances by visualising your long-term goal, but work towards it by breaking it down into smaller tasks that are easy to sustain. Bite sized pieces, if you like.
Keep track and plan carefully
Plan these changes – daily into your diary – do not cancel! Treat them as a business meeting. If the goal is to walk an extra 50 meters per day then make sure you get off the bus two stops earlier, or park further away from your destination. Allow time in your schedule for your changes. And keep track of everything you do.
Don’t forget to reward yourself
Can you fit into that outfit again? Have a night out with friends. Did you lose that last half stone? Book a spa day. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing well and congratulate yourself for each small step. You’ve earned it!
Try not to become frustrated as your journey progresses. As we age the results are less forthcoming and harder work to achieve. But the changes will happen – I promise. With consistency and support your goals will be reached.
If you’re struggling for inspiration take a look at some of my YouTube videos or comment below. And good luck!
Liv Francis – Health, weight loss and exercise therapist.
Online weight loss and personal training