Don’t set yourself up for fitness failures!
Newsflash: making resolutions by way of vowing to turn your body into a temple is actually a bad idea. Why? Because you’re almost certainly setting yourself up for failure.
What I feel people do wrong, particularly at this time of year, is that they set themselves unattainable goals. OK: It’s now February, and January’s resolutions have possibly fallen by the wayside.
I see people come up with these dramatic things they are going to do to improve their health and wellbeing. They say they are going to change their diet, lose weight, go to the gym every morning, or stop drinking so much, and they are just setting the bar too high.
Look at your life as a whole
In addition to making your goals realistic, it is important to look at your lifestyle holistically. I am big on looking at my overall life and lifestyle – not just looking at diet, or exercise, or whatever it may be, individually.
There is little point going for an hour’s jog four times a week, only to reward yourself with a greasy take away or fast food fix afterwards, if weight loss is your ultimate goal.
There are six pillars to my program, and to people’s lives, that I ask them to address. They are: Food, Drink, Exercise, Activity, Sleep and Stress. People need to address them all, as they are all related.
Think about it. You may be concerned about your diet when, in reality, it’s your stress levels that cause you to reach for the fastest, easiest meal options. Address the stress, and that should help improve the other pillars.
Or, you may feel you have no time and energy to exercise, but by addressing sleep first and going to bed an hour earlier each night, you’ll likely find you have more energy to work out.
Build on a foundation of joy
Joy is the key, and it is a secret to maintaining health.
The six pillars need to be built on a foundation of joy. If they’re not, you won’t keep it up long term. We are pleasure seekers ultimately, and we have got to enjoy our lifestyle. This involves implementing realistic changes that are still part and parcel of a lifestyle you can grow to enjoy, if you’re not that inspired to live healthily right now.
This involves working out exactly what makes you happy within the framework of a healthy lifestyle.
In terms of diet, it does not mean eating kale and chia seeds because they are a buzz ingredient superfood, if you don’t enjoy them.
Finding joy, in terms of food, means being mindful in the way that you eat, giving some priority to mealtime, and giving priority to eating with family and friends. Actually taking pleasure from food is very important. If you resent your diet, you simply won’t follow it.
When it comes to exercise, we’re often told that it shoould be fun. The only caveat is that, for many of us, exercise isn’t always fun. However, we almost always enjoy it once we have started, and are certainly really happy that we’ve done it, afterwards.
Accept you’re human and move on
Living life without ever enjoying cake, takeaway or a lazy week off the gym is just plain unrealistic. Moreover, the negative internal dialogue that can go along with this is pointless, and sometimes destructive.
Guilt should never be associated with food. What’s done is done, and there is no point in feeling guilty and beating yourself up. I remind people that it is what you do between New Year and Christmas that counts, not Christmas and New Year.
The good news is that we can very quickly get back on track.
It’s about looking forward and deciding to pull the reins in a little bit. I like to view it like: Lifestyle is like riding a horse. You’ve always got your hands on the reins and there are times when you have to pull the reins in and exercise a bit more control. I prefer that analogy as opposed to going on a diet or onto a program that can feel negative, and where you have the risk of ‘falling off’.
It’s about being positive. You may decide to pull the reins in for a little while, and then reach a point where you’re at equilibrium and you can relax the reins a little bit — without galloping off into the sunset!
Break it down
While it may sound contradictory after looking at the big picture, its time to look at your life in weekly increments.
Set yourself an ultimate aim, such as a long-term goal of weight loss, running a half marathon or having more energy to play with your dog!
Whatever your end-game is, you then have to break it down into what can be achieved each month, and then each week.
Weekly, I encourage people to have goals that have nothing to do with weight, measurements or sport performance — just the physical things that they are going to do that will help to drive behavioural changes that will end up getting you to your goal. It might be as simple as a walk every second day, not ordering banana bread with the morning coffee or making an effort to be in bed by 10pm every night. Those weekly goals relate back to the six pillars, and they are very specific. In turn, they will assist people to reach their end goal.
I find it helps to share what you are up to with friends or your partner. They can help keep you accountable, or even join you in some activities. It can be helpful to have a friend, partner or co-worker to keep you motivated.
At the end of the day, it’s all about not trying to do everything all at once. Instead, focus on one thing at a time.