Yup, it’s that time of the year again. A chance for a fresh start, an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Most of us come up with all sorts of New Year’s resolution ideas – to make improvements to our lives in some way.
If you’re like most people, losing weight and getting in shape will be towards the top of your list. The problem is, we start off optimistically but then the harsh reality of our busy lives sets in and we lose focus.
Do you know when you are most likely to give up on your fitness resolutions? January 18th is when things typically crumble. That day is referred to as “Quitters Day”. A combination of factors are to blame including the cold weather in Northern Hemisphere countries, debt levels, along with the drudgery of 9-5.
In fact only 20% of us will stick with our New Year resolutions past mid-February. Ultimately 1 in 10 will succeed in breaking the bad habits.
Living healthier and getting in shape is not easy to do at any time of the year, let alone in the month right after the holidays. Here are a few tips to help you beat the statistics and achieve your health and fitness goals beyond mid-February, way into 2022. Ways to avoid the “Ah, screw it!” mentality that leads to bad habits. Make this year different.
Consider your reality
This is somewhat obvious but many of us can become so hyperfocused on achieving goals that we fail to properly assess our current life situation. There are many aspects of life we need to factor in when coming up with New Year resolutions, such as career, family and other special obligations and duties. All of these affect your ability to achieve fitness and health goals.
It is also important to consider important life stresses. For example, if you’ve recently become a new parent, have extensive upcoming or has enormous job obligations, it might be feasible to scale down those fitness goals to make them more achievable.
Finally, don’t forget to reevaluate your resolutions from time to time. Your circumstances may change during the year so know when it’s time to switch gears. Tweaking your fitness resolutions as you go is much better than giving up!
Generally speaking, the more activity you do the better. The idea is to be active whenever you can. But if you’re not very active, you should build up to a healthier lifestyle gradually.
Take steps, for example. Rather than aiming for a lofty target such as 10,000 steps per day, it is better to build up to your target over time by adding a few more steps every so often. A challenging workout should push you a bit outside your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to scale back. Its important to listen to your body, your doctor and most importantly – your common sense! Don’t blindly chase after targets.
Bring a friend
Rather that going out alone, for some people it might be better to work out with a friend or a group. This keeps it interesting.
Group training, is defined as classes of more than five participants. This includes a number of workout styles, i.e., anything from cardio-based classes and indoor cycling to dance-based classes to step classes. The more variety in your exercise program, the easier it will be to follow.
While this type of exercise has been around for a while, its only recently that its gained in popularity. Group training is about more than just the social environment and motivational boost. It also puts the economics of scale to work and is far more affordable than forking out for a personal trainer.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, exercising in groups might be slightly more challenging that in the previous years. So rather than meetups, you can opt for virtual competitions. Most fitness apps these days come with social options where you can compete with friends and strangers. It is something that can help to keep you motivated.
You should be specific about your fitness and health goals. This will make it easier to follow your progress.
Fitness bands, smart watches, heart rate monitors and other wearable tech have been the number one fitness trend in recent years. If you’re not on-board, perhaps you should be.
Without some type of quantifiable feedback, it’s difficult to know how well you are doing. Someone might decide to “become a stronger runner,” for example, but without some sort of measurable aspect to this goal, it becomes more of a lofty ideal than something actionable. Not only do fitness trackers and smartwatches quantify your effort, but they also produce a log of activity so you can keep an eye on trends over time.
We’ve come a long way since counting steps was the goal. More recently, we are seeing the introduction of smart glasses, intelligent garments and biometric headphones. Heading into 2022, we expect more focus on coaching and actionable information, more advanced performance metrics and continued development of sensors.
Give something new a try
Learn a new activity. It will help mix things around a little and will keep you motivated and interested. Running day after day might eventually become tedious. But throw in a tennis lesson, head over to the gym, go rock climbing, go trekking. The possibilities are endless.
Not only will this help you stay in shape by exercising muscles you wouldn’t normally work out, but it will also keep your mind engaged. The brain changes for the better when mastering a new skill. Learning a new activity increases cognitive abilities, decreases feelings of anxiety, improves focus, improves memory promotes the growth of new brain cells and helps keep your brain young.
The unfortunate truth is that most people stick to the same routine. Statistics show that the typical UK adult hasn’t tried a new activity or hobby in five and a half years! Learn something new to boost your brain.
Finally and most importantly – reward yourself. If you’ve put in the effort and are hitting those hard-earned targets, take some time off and treat yourself.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
No, no – we don’t mean to go out and splurge on a Big Mac, large fries and a Coke day after day! That will surely undo your progress. But a small “holiday” from a strict diet will not do you any harm. Or even better, how about a trip to the spa, a weekend getaway or a massage? Rewards will help you reach those milestones faster than you ever thought possible.
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