Many New Year’s health and fitness resolutions fail for many reasons such as setting unrealistic goals or going too hard too early, resulting in injury and giving up. The other big one is lack of preparation.
Preparation is about understanding yourself and your limits to create achievable, enjoyable goals and developing the right mindset to make them happen.
If you want to make a change for the better in 2016, consider the following tips:
A good rule of thumb is to only increase your exercise levels by 20% at a time, across six week intervals. It may sound modest, but increasing by this level allows your body to adjust slowly and lowers your injury risk. Once your body has adjusted to that increase over a period of six weeks, you may then increase the exercise by another 20%.
The key is knowing your baseline: for example, how long can you walk for, and how often? How far can you run, and how often? How many laps can you swim? Our bodies are designed to move, and everybody can do something.
Once you have your baseline you can make improvements 20% at a time, and you will be amazed at the difference over a 12 month period.
Making a positive change needs to be about you. So concentrate on yourself. Understand your base fitness, and aim for steady improvement. Do what you’re doing as well as you can. The change will come and you’ll feel better for it, but only if you compare you with you.
One way elite athletes develop mindset is through affirmations: simple, short, positive phrases, which they say to themselves either early in the morning or late at night – or both (research shows that the brain is more receptive to affirmations at these times of day).
Affirmations may be something like “today I am fitter than I was last week/last month” or “each and every day I am getting better”. Affirmations help combat the inevitable doubt and negative emotion that people often experience. They may also be necessary if you are not surrounded by supportive people – many people find that family and friends mock or are hostile to a new fitness regime. This can hold people back.
With a strong mindset, in which you understand your exercise tolerance and have committed to increasing that tolerance, without comparison to others, and by being consistent, you will find it easier to overcome challenges and make your goals a reality.