This January we’re launching Gym Buddies, an online fitness community to help readers navigate the dreaded ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ together and make lasting changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
Whatever your fitness level – complete beginner or seasoned pro looking for a new challenge – we’ve got something for you.
For daily fitness motivation straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.
Some might commit to joining a gym, some may sign up to a marathon or race and others will be downloading that couch to 5k app.
But how do you make these resolutions last past the second weekend in February?
It’s all well and good setting the goals, but here are seven tips to help you reach them.
1. Get out of a fitness rut
What fitness habits do you have that you wish you could break? Do you go home after work and fail to muster up the energy to get back out to the gym? Do you always workout on the weekend but struggle to get active in the week?
Fitness First PT, Luke Chamberlain, advised: “Start by making a list of the habits you currently have that you would like to change, by setting mini goals.
“Once you’ve completed this, put the list in order of priority and understand that some may be linked together. This is important for understanding the overall expectations and the impact one goal may have on another.”
And – as you’ve probably heard a million times before – make sure these goals and new habits are realistic. Autumn Calabrese, master trainer and health coach said: “Any goal is possible but you have to make sure you are giving yourself realistic parameters for achieving it.”
2. Know your motivation
Sometimes we set New Year’s resolutions without really digging deep and asking ourselves why that particular goal is important, said Calabrese.
“Knowing your ‘why?’ can help keep you on track when temptation strikes,” she explained.
“Go deep when thinking about your why. Don’t just say I want to lose weight. Here’s an example of going deep on your why: Why do I want to lose weight? Because I want to feel good. What does feeling good mean to me? It means I will be comfortable in my own skin. Why is it important to me to feel comfortable and confident? I want to show myself that I am good enough.”
3. Make a plan
Rather than set yourselves fitness goals for the whole year (“I’m going to run a marathon!”), create smaller, week-by-week plans of what you hope to achieve.
Chamberlain said: “It’s time to make a plan that is achievable and not over-reaching. One of the main reasons people fail to sustain their behaviour change is because they attempt to change too much at once and don’t have a plan on how to do it.
Short term small goals (daily or weekly) are easier to sustain than individual large goals (monthly or quarterly).
“By writing it down you are affirming that the change is going to happen.”
And remember, as Cabrese said: “It takes 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for a habit to become a part of your lifestyle. It doesn’t happen overnight so be patient and don’t beat yourself up or quit if you struggle along the way. It’s all a part of the process.”
Short term small goals (daily or weekly) are easier to sustain than individual large goals (monthly or quarterly).”
Fitness First PT, Luke Chamberlain
4. Get support from others
It’s always harder to cancel on a gym class if you’ve committed to going with a friend, just like it’s hard to forget your goals if you’ve told your gym buddy/personal trainer/friend/family member about them.
Chamberlain said: “By talking to others about the change you are more likely to get the support you may need when you need it and may find that others have the same goals as you and want to get involved.
“Get your family and friends involved. It’s time to commit and achieve success.”
Calbrese, agreed, adding: “There’s strength in numbers. Having people that are going through the same thing as you or that you can talk to about your goals and having them support you will make it much easier to stay on track.”
5. Keep a fitness tracker
You’ve written down your fitness habits, you’ve got your plan – now it’s time to keep track of what you’re doing. Lucy Arnold, PT and fitness coach, said doing this is a good way to see how you’re heading towards your goals.
Did you lift 10kg for the first time? Plank for the longest you’ve ever planked? Run the longest your’ve ever run? Write it down. By doing this, you can keep checking back that you are still on schedule to achieve what you set out to do.
“Fitness diaries are a great way to track what isn’t going as well so you can make adjustments and change things,” Arnold said.
“By recording your movements, it is a lot easier to create better habits and form a routine rather than just running full throttle, with no plan and hoping for the best. A diary will also keep you accountable for your actions. If you get three months in the year and you haven’t changed, or updated the diary you need to reassess and work out why. If you are seeing results, then you can continue what’s working.”
6. Think outside the box.
If you’re struggling to reach your fitness goals, could there be another reason?
“There isn’t enough emphasis on how beneficial and how great sleep is for you,” Arnold said. “Sleep is a large part of being and staying healthy, and allowing your body to recover. Sleep controls your immune system, ageing process and metabolism.
“One night of bad or no sleep can have a major affect on your body, your mental health and your mood. I recommend at least seven hours sleep, where you will notice a difference in your energy levels and how your body functions.”
7. Celebrate your successes.
“Set rewards for achieving milestones in the plan,” said Chamberlain. “But if you deviate from the plan don’t punish yourself or slip back into old habits completely.
“Use it as a learning experience, discuss why the slip up happened and focus on getting back on track and into the right mindset for change.”
Now go get ’em.