Did you accomplish your New Year resolutions in 2012? Most resolutions are about health and fitness improvement and, sadly, most are doomed to fail. Here is some advice on how to keep these annual promises we make to ourselves. We can of course resolve to be fitter and healthier at any time and the following advice will be just as relevant.
Don’t throw yourself in the deep end.
Prepare your body and mind for the changes you are about to make. A recent study showed that women who practiced the skills and habits required for long term weight maintenance before starting the diet proper were more successful than those who just started dieting straight off.
Muscle also needs to be prepared and ‘educated’ before you begin any new exercise regime. Exercising chronically short, tight muscle is a recipe for disaster. Injury in the early stages is very common and can take weeks if not months to resolve and by this time our motivation will have evaporated. Although most of our treatments at the Muscle Clinic are a response to injury we can also assist with the preparation and maintenance of soft tissue, so helping avoid unnecessary injury.
Find a buddy.
Partnering up with someone who has made similar resolutions is often quoted as a great way to succeed in meeting self-improvement goals and undoubtedly can be an enormous help. The relationship should be about encouragement and motivation more than about competition. Some people do thrive on competition and if you are lucky or have a reasonable level of basic fitness it is a quick way see an improvement, but more often than not it will result in an injury. Your resolution buddy should have your best interests at heart and not just be interested in winning the £10 bet you made at the party.
Make a habit of it.
Building a routine around your health kick is important. Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind – we do like our comfort zones and at first changing any part of our lifestyle can meet with inertia. The good news is that in a relatively short space of time the new behaviour becomes habitual and your exercise routine will become equally difficult to break. This is especially true once the benefits of your healthy lifestyle change become apparent.
Pick something you like doing.
Your New Year’s resolution should not be a punishment. Try to choose something you are going to enjoy. If you want to get fit but don’t fancy sweating it out at a gym then there are thousands of alternatives. Find an activity that suits you – salsa dancing, rock climbing, swimming, hill walking, martial arts, golf, walking the dog, cycling, surfing, table tennis, Pilates, bowling, gardening, football, Zumba, yoga – take your pick. Your new healthy activity doesn’t have to be a team sport nor does it need to be competitive. But joining a club and making it a social event will give you the encouragement and support you need.
Make your resolutions specific.
One of the reasons we fail to keep our resolutions is that they are too general. Stating that your New Year resolution is ‘to get fit’ is likely to fail. Break it down and be more specific; ‘Lose 5kg’, ‘Be able to touch my toes’, ‘Eat at least 5 fruit and veg each day’. Setting explicit goals will keep you focused and allow you to measure and celebrate your success as you reach each milestone.
Write down your resolutions.
Another major reason we fail to keep our New Year vows is that we simply forget we made them. I’m not just talking about alcohol induced amnesia on New Years day – even if we take our resolutions seriously, with the best will in the world most of us will lose our focus as the days move on. Writing your resolutions down and placing the list in a clearly visible place is the obvious solution to this.
Not only will this help you achieve your goals it will also help to prevent injury or undue stress. In the Muscle Clinic we always see a rush of injuries in January from people who have overdone it in the gym or pushed themselves too hard at the running club in an attempt to meet unrealistic goals. We can’t all be a Tom Daley or Doaa Shayea, so listen to your body and know your limits.
Good luck and best wishes from the Muscle Clinic.