By the time the clock strikes midnight on the night of the 31st, many of us will already have our New Year resolutions in mind. For a lot of people, these resolutions are to be healthier and engage in more exercise. The period between Christmas and the New Year is a common excuse for eating what we want and telling ourselves that we’ll “start eating healthy and exercising in the New Year.”
But how often do our resolutions start reasonably well and then we become discouraged and abandon our goals? According to Strava, most people are likely to give up their resolutions on the 19th of January. With 80 percent of people deserting theirs completely by the second week of February. Setting goals for the New Year is easy, but achieving them can be a challenge.
Your goals are our goals, so we want to see you succeed. Here are some tips to ensure that your fitness resolutions make it past the first two months of the year.
Create a Routine or Plan
Whether the goal you’ve set is big or small, it’s not nearly as important as developing the habits that will allow you to achieve that goal. Although you have great intentions, not developing these habits is the downfall of fitness resolutioners; leaving your chances of success to the imagination.
You need to think of it as a lifestyle change, and not just an addition to your current routine. Create a consistent and realistic plan that you can hold yourself accountable to. We recommend focusing on the two ‘W’s’; when and what.
When Will You Exercise?
Your frequency of exercise will depend on many factors. Choose three days and times that are convenient for you so that you’re working out at the same time each week. Strava also discovered that exercising in the morning helps to keep people motivated. Some benefits of exercising in the morning include:
- Fewer distractions
- Beating the heat
- Improved mood
- Better quality sleep
- More energy during the day
What Type of Exercise Will You Do?
The best type of exercise to do is the one that you enjoy most. You’re more likely to be consistent and motivated if you’re enjoying yourself. Don’t give in to the latest trends or gimmicks, pick something that you know will work for you. There are endless options to choose from, and you don’t have to pick just one. If you don’t know what you enjoy, that’s ok too. Choose a couple to give a go for a month and rotate them until you find the one for you.
Set Realistic and Specific Goals
There are constant blanket statements made on New Year’s Eve, such as: “I want to lose weight,” or “I’m going to start exercising more.” But these are impractical and you’ll never achieve them because there is no measurable end. You need to determine how much weight you’re aiming to lose, or how much more you are going to exercise. Take the time to think about what your specific goals are. What does a renewed commitment to health and fitness look like for you?
There’s nothing wrong with setting a big goal at the start of the year. Although, it can be hard to keep motivated if you feel as though you’re not ‘achieving ‘anything for 12 months. It’s also important to understand that you aren’t going to see results overnight. We recommend setting monthly goals so that you can ‘tick’ things off as the year advances. This is also a great way to help track progress towards your bigger goal.
Be honest and patient with yourself about what will work for you and what is achievable. If you choose to go running, and you don’t usually run, don’t expect to be able to run for 30mins on the first try or even the tenth. The key is to start small and build up. Going hard too early can result in injury, pushing back the timeline of your end goal.
If you’re uncertain about what you should be doing or where to start, talk to your Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist. They will ensure you’re healthy enough to begin and provide guidance on reducing the risk of injury.
Don’t Neglect Your Diet
Exercise and eating well go hand in hand. What you put into your body fuels all the day’s activities. Even more important is eating well on days that you’re going to be exercising. Skipping meals or eating poorly can leave you feeling lightheaded and nauseous through the day and during your workout.
Nail It From the Start
It’s not just a statement your Mum told you growing up. Breakfast is scientifically proven to be the most important meal of the day. Start your morning with the right food to help replenish your blood sugar that powers the body and mind. Choosing to eat less or low carb foods won’t keep you from feeling hungry for very long; encouraging you to snack.
Eating a fiber full and high in protein breakfast will fight off the early hunger aches and prepare your body for the day. Here are some examples of what you can add to your breakfast dishes:
- Nuts and Seeds (chia, pumpkin, flaxseed, almond, walnuts)
- Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
- Whole Grain Toast or Waffles
- Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Zucchini)
Don’t Be Afraid of Protein
Protein supplies our body with amino acids, supporting our body to build, maintain, and repair muscle fibers. It is also considered a macronutrient, meaning we need to consume a large amount of it to stay healthy. The consumption of protein is vital in our day to day lifestyle, however, it has added fitness benefits as well, including:
- Faster recovery after exercise or an injury
- Reduce loss of muscle
- Helps build lean muscle
- Maintain weight
- Helps to fight hunger pangs
So how much protein should you be eating? Ideally, protein should take up 15-25% of your daily intake. As outlined in the government’s guidelines the following amounts are recommended:
For Men: 0.84g per kilogram of body weight per day.
For Women: 0.75g per kilogram of body weight per day.
You can work out your intake by multiplying your current weight with the recommended amount of grams. Now you know how much protein you should be consuming, where are you going to get it from? Here are some examples.
|Quantity / Amount||Food||Amount of Protein|
|85g||Cooked lean beef||22g|
|½ cup||Raw Oats||13g|
|1 cup||Full fat milk||8g|
|28 (¼ cup)||Almonds||6g|
|1 cup||Chopped broccoli||3g|
Relying on the start of the New Year as motivation to achieve your fitness goals is not enough. We’re sorry to say, but success won’t come based on a date from the calendar. It will however come if you make a plan and stick to it!
Focus your energy on an activity that you know you’ll enjoy and create a routine for yourself. Remember that consistency is the key to developing healthy, long-term habits. Set realistic and specific goals that are going to be attainable for you and take small steps to achieve them.
Your new exercise routine paired with a healthy diet will have you performing and feeling your best. It will also give you the best chance of success for crushing your New Year fitness goals.