I was feeling incredibly excited and energetic at the start of the year. My parental leave was in full swing in Brazil and I’d set my fitness and nutrition goals for 2016, chief among them being my target of exercising five times a week. Inspired by Glenn’s post from last week I was ready to hit the ground running from the beginning of January and make 2016 my healthiest year on the planet to date! It all started so well on New Years Day with a tough trek through forest, farmland and mucky trails in the hills outside Florianopolis. Nothing better to shake off the lethargy and mild hangover on the first day of the year.
Then I fell off the horse, thanks to an all you can eat sushi buffet. The subsequent stomach bug that landed in the early days of the new year had me laid up for a while and also sapped me of energy for a few days after it had cleared up. My partner then flew to the north of Brazil for work and, as I was minding our daughter full time, I had little or no time to exercise. In the last few days I have made somewhat of a recovery by hitting the gym a few times and going for a run but I’ve fallen well short of my ‘five times a week’ target so far this year. Things are beginning to settle down now though and I’m hungry to get back in to a routine and re-start my year and my goals.
My bad start to the year goes to show how easy it is to fail in your New Year resolutions and goals, even at the very first hurdle. The unfortunate reality is that the majority of us will not stick to our new year resolutions. Sometimes life gets in the way, the universe contrives against us despite our best intentions. This happens and we must accept it and start again. It would be so easy for me to give up now and set an easier challenge but my will power and mental strength won’t let me do that. It got me thinking as to what I'm doing to re-focus on my goals despite this setback. I've written the below list that helps me set and stick with my goals, especially when mentally I'm struggling with my objectives. I hope it can help others as well.
1. Review your resolutions to make sure they are realistic and specific. Targeting the Olympics in Rio this year might be a little far-fetched (depending on your level of fitness of course). Be specific about your goals so you can track progress against them i.e. to run 10k in under 45 minutes, to squat 80 kg by the end of April or to lose 6 kg of weight in 12 months. If your goals are not realistic and specific then you need to re-evaluate them. Try and focus on one change at a time and break larger goals down into small steps. The more gradual the change, the more sustainable it will become. If you're still struggling then click here for some ideas and inspiration on the healthy new year resolutions of other 9 to 5 workers.
2. Write goals down and place them where you will see them every day. Having this visual reminder will help at times when your motivation is low. You’ll be reminded of how you were feeling the day you set them, why you set them and how determined you were at the time. Getting your mind back to where it was when you first set these goals will help with a renewed focus and determination.
3. Don’t beat yourself up about an occasional slip and keep trying. Setbacks happen, obsessing over them won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day and take one day at a time. If you have totally run out of steam when it comes to keeping your resolution after a few weeks or months, don’t despair. It’s time to start over. Re-commit yourself for one day. You can do anything for 24 hours. The one day increments will soon build on each other and, before you know it, you will be back on track. Patience and persistence is key.
4. Review your progress and build on your resolutions. You've set specific goals (Point 1 above) so you should track how you are progressing against them at certain intervals. Are you making progress? Have you met your goals? Great, it’s time to build on that progress and update the goals in line with the advancements that you've made. If you've been working hard but haven’t been meeting your targets then perhaps you need to review and re-evaluate your goals to ensure they are realistic to your level of fitness (Point 1 again).
5. Reward yourself and celebrate. This entire process should be a positive experience. I understand that for a lot of people implementing health and fitness goals early in the New Year can be a daunting and painful experience. It shouldn't be all doom and gloom though. Celebrate your achievements as you progress through your programme - once it doesn't conflict with your resolution of course!
The average health kick lasts only three weeks and four days. It takes about three weeks for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become a part of your personality. People on average put more effort into announcing their lifestyle change on social media and telling friends than they do actually carrying out the change.
The odds are stacked against us and it certainly does take a lot of will power to maintain New Year resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle. The great news though is that it’s completely within our control and the setbacks we face should only make us stronger and more resolute in achieving our goals.
Flip the statistics on their head and make 2016 the year you stuck with your resolution!
Until the next time......Brian