After over-indulging yourself during the Christmas period (raise your hands if you’re guilty of eating too many mince pies), it seems to be the perfect time to kick start the new year with a fitness and health journey. More often than not, you start out strong and on a mission, exercise hard for a few weeks then end up getting injured or drop off the routine, prematurely ending your journey.
Let’s be sensible about it! Below are some tips to help you plan and succeed on your fitness journey, which by the way, you can actually start at any time!
1. Set realistic goals
Think about your short term (STG) and long term goals (LTG). If you’re not already active maybe your STG is just to be more active. Sounds simple and it is! If you’re not a fan of the gyms or are intimidated by classes then don’t force yourself to go- you won’t enjoy it. Find something that inspires you. Maybe go for a walk after dinner, cycle on the weekend, or walk up 5 flights of stairs instead of taking the lift home, set a STG to be active at least 3 times per week. Perhaps your LTG will be to continue with this new routine or eventually join a gym or try a class.
If you’re already active, your STG may be to get yourself back in the gym or to your favourite classes and begin exercising again. If your LTG goal is to lose weight, unfortunately there’s no magic pill that will drop the pounds off you, it’ll take time, a good balanced diet to achieve and maintain a leaner, healthier body. Start off with exercise for a week or two and then begin to change your diet so you don’t become overwhelmed with all the changes at once. Allow yourself sufficient time to reach your goals. 12 weeks a good amount of time to see a healthy change in your body with regular exercises and well balanced diet.
2. Think about what type of exercise will help you achieve your goal
If you’re hoping to burn fat and tone then you’d benefit from resistance/HIIT sessions; HIIT is a great workout if you’re short for time and studies have shown that those engaging in 20 minute HIIT sessions 3 times per week, lost significantly more subcutaneous fat than those in the steady state aerobic exercise program (1). Resistance training and lifting weights will help develop muscle tone and strength, so don’t be afraid to pick up a weight at the gym!
If you’re hoping to gain muscle then you’d benefit from a weight training programme, speak to a professional if you need helping designing one. If your goal is to run a marathon this year, if it’s not already obvious- you need to run more and plan your training schedule. If you already have a good exercise routine but would love to be more flexible or improve mobility, then you’d benefit from introducing yoga or Pilates into your weekly routine or quite simply stretching more often!
3. Make sure you rest!!
This one, I feel is the most important. If you’re not used to exercising don’t rush into exercising 5 days a week at a high intensity, you’ll be doing more harm than good by increasing your chance of getting an injury. Rest is important for building muscle and restoring depleted energy in muscles. Gradually increase your exercise each week to your new or normal routine. Schedule rest days, or combine conditioning (stretching, core, yoga, Pilates) into your week and try to get 7-8 hours’ sleep each night. Learn how to rest, don’t quit.
4. Nutrition & Hydration
We all know that nutrition is important when trying to live a healthier lifestyle and this is a whole other topic on its own. A couple of tips to get you started; Begin by writing down everything you put into your mouth for 3 days, however much or little you’re eating and drinking- you’ll be surprised at what you’ve written. Start small by drinking more water, replace ice teas and multiple cups of coffee with good old H2O. Not only is water great for your skin, but it helps to remove waste products and toxins from the body and circulate nutrients that you need. You’ll feel more refreshed and energised!
Replace sugary snacks with a healthier one like a handful of plain nuts or carrot sticks. Stop eating when you’re full. Choose a nutritional salad over your go-to sandwich or rice and noodles. Buy your groceries over the weekend and cook a few healthy meals for the week. Speak to dietician or nutritionist if you need help with your diet and creating a plan.
5. PLAN TO SUCCEED
Working in fitness coaching, one of the things I most often hear are excuses, “I didn’t have time to pack my gym bag this morning” Solution; do it the night before. Always plan ahead! If you know you have a few late evenings in the week plan to do your workouts before work, at lunch or during days you know you’re free. At the weekend, make sure you have your fridge stocked with healthy food or make your go-to snacks. If you’re travelling, plan a 15min HIIT routine to keep you active.
6. If something’s not working for you, change it
If you’ve been doing all the right things but you’re just not seeing any results, speak to a professional who can help. It’s probably time to change your routine or do things slightly differently. If you lack motivation, join a class or hire a trainer to push you. Here at IFC, we’re always ready to help you.
7. Stay focused and have fun!
Remember, these are Your Goals. Your choices and Your Life, just have fun with it.
Dipti is a Graduate Sports Therapist and APPI trained Pilates Instructor. As well as fitness coaching, she specialises in sports injuries, rehabilitation, sports massage, correcting dysfunctional movement patterns and posture.
1. E. G. Trapp, D. J. Chisholm, J. Freund, and S. H. Boutcher, “The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women,” International Journal of Obesity, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 684–691, 2008.