New Year, new you? Strategies for making your resolutions a long-term reality
The turn of the new year represents many things, the most significant of which, is a fresh start. A blank slate if you will. A chance to put the previous weeks, months and years of self-assessed failure to rest. The past is in the past and can’t be changed so why worry about it now? Then there’s the other people. The people who have been consistent this year, worked hard and achieved their goals. For them the turn of the year represents “business as usual”. They’re main objective is now set at brand new, previously unrealistic goals that both scare and excite them. The common principle shared between both groups though, is the embarking upon fresh, new challenges that have previously not been achieved. Whether you’re the woman who hasn’t properly trained for over a year since giving birth, now wanting to lose two stone or the man who this past year lost that same two stone and now wants to build muscle to completely transform their physique, the question is the same for both, can you do it? Spoiler alert… OF COURSE YOU CAN! A better question to ask though, might be what strategies can I implement into my own routine so that my goals aren’t just another flash in the pan? The purpose of this blog is to give you some insight on potential strategies for sustained effort towards your desired goals, these can be applied to both brand-new gym-goers just starting out or people already training looking to achieve fresh new goals.
AVOID THE LATEST FAD OR QUICK FIX DIET. So, let’s just get this bit out the way. We all know someone, whether a family member or friend who has set a very unrealistic goal and thus, implemented very unrealistic strategies in order to achieve it, both in their training and nutrition. A workout DVD that they plan on completing EVERY DAY in front of the television as well as starting the brand new “insert latest fad shake weight loss supplement” diet that involves very little ACTUAL FOOD! This will fail. Every time. Guaranteed. No exceptions. But Scott, my friend lost over a stone in two weeks. That may be true, the question with these things though, isn’t “can they make you lose weight?”. They do what they say they’re going to do on the tin, THEY MAKE YOU LOSE WEIGHT! No one said anything about sustaining that weight loss though. You just said you wanted to lose weight and that’s what happened. Keeping the weight off is a different ball game though. There’s no skill involved in putting someone in a 1000+ hypocaloric state in order to lose weight. It’s effective. It works. It’s called starving. You can’t sustain it though, no one can cause you’re not meant too. You’re meant to fuel and nourish yourself so that you don’t feel terrible and can go and do things like exercise.
BEING TOO AGGRESSIVE WITH YOUR EXERCISE REGIMEN. I touched on this in a previous blog post but it’s worth mentioning again especially at this time of year. While stating your intent on starting a five- or six-day exercise regimen is admirable, the chances of you sustaining it over a prolonged period are very slim. I’ve started with many clients who have wanted to adopt this type of routine and have been surprised by the advice from me to dial things back initially to either two or three days per week. The importance of this seems to be in the psychology of it. Starting a 5/6 day split then giving up because it’s too difficult and doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle is highly de-motivating and de-moralising. It confirms negative beliefs that you might’ve had about yourself. Beliefs like “I can’t achieve this, I always quit, I’m meant to be this way” etc. Starting with a 2/3-day split and sustaining this over several weeks and months has the opposite effect. Firstly, and most importantly, you start seeing results because you’re being consistent. It also confirms positive beliefs. Beliefs like “I’m consistent, I’m achieving my goals, I can turn up and get it done when I don’t necessarily feel like it” etc. Those are beliefs you should want to hold about yourself because they’re all true. You can be consistent and achieve your goals. You just need to adopt a strategy that is realistic and allows you to sustain it over a prolonged period.
BE PATIENT. I can’t stress how important this is. We live in a time now where we can all have instant gratification with many aspects of our lives. Want a new outfit? It can be at your front door tomorrow. Want to watch a genre on Netflix? There’re about 5,000 different things there for you. Want to eat McDonald’s at 4am? No problem, most places are open 24hrs. Ironically though, this isn’t the case with your fitness goals, it doesn’t matter how much resources you have or money in your bank account, you must work for it. It’s that lack of patience that cause a lot of people to give up too soon. Exercise can be fun but it’s also a lot of hard work. A lot of sweating and painful, aching muscles in the days following a good workout. There’s no other way around this, you must accept and even welcome this aspect of training into your life. Nobody ever said adaptation to any given stimulus was going to be a smooth transition. Think about it, you’re trying to change your body composition with your bare hands, consider how crazy that is for a second that it’s even possible to do this. That by moving and lifting heavy objects you can change the structure and shape of your body. Doesn’t exactly sound like a process that’s going to take place in a couple of weeks does it? Therefore, you must be patient and consistent. Have faith with the plan that has been put in place and keep going. When you look back at your progress over the previous weeks, months and hopefully years, you’ll be shocked at just how far you’ve come.
Hopefully that gives you some basic, proven strategies that can help you move forward with your goals this year whether you’re just starting out or looking to achieve new, unprecedented goals for yourself. Avoiding the latest FAD or quick fix is essential. These diets do what they say they’re going to. They help you lose weight, FAST. The issue is the sustainability. Keeping the weight off. Your goals should represent a lifestyle and mindset change that you adopt for life, therefore any results achieved are long term and maintained. Avoid being too aggressive with your exercise routine as it will be difficult to maintain and it’s likely you’ll end up quitting. This is highly demotivating and can cause psychological damage towards attempting to start any future programme’s or endeavours. Start slow, steady and build up. It is much easier to sustain and keep you hungry towards achieving your goals. You’ll also build confidence and belief in yourself by adopting this approach. Lastly and most importantly, BE PATIENT! I can’t stress how important this is. Accept that it’s going to take time and effort. From there you can try and enjoy the process rather than constantly focussing on the end goal. When it comes to fitness and health, there is no finish line. Just constant development and room for improvement. So, embrace it, take your time getting there and enjoy the process.
Author – Scott McBride (McBride Fitness)