You didn’t really need that extra round of drinks or the “go large” option for an extra 75 cents did you?
“No, but isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Letting your hair down, relaxing with family and friends; to eat, drink and be merry?. Anyway, January 1st is just around the corner and this is my time for fresh start”
Does this sound like you? My bet is, it does if you are one of the masses who finds themselves feeling sluggish and fed up with their current physical condition after the holidays.
The beginning of each new year is culturally recognised as a time for rebirth, an opportunity to change your lifestyle for the better. In fact, research from the Journal of Clinical Psychology shows that 40-50% of people make new year’s resolutions, many whom commit to giving up smoking, losing weight or becoming more physically active.
Yet a mere 8% are successful in achieving their new year’s resolutions
Why is this?
Why do so many of us fail to keep our new year’s resolutions? Why despite all the best intentions do we ultimately fail every year?
Lifestyle change is so much more than simply putting on a pair of runners and putting down the knife and fork. Lifestyle change begins with your psychology.
Here are 5 tips to help you understand the why and how to succeed in keeping your new year’s resolution
1) Define your values
You have probably read articles or blog posts like this in the past and they all start the same: Define your Goals. Whilst goal setting is important (and is actually my next point, but we’ll get to that) we first need to define our values. What do I mean by values? Our values are what guide us through life (philosophical I know!) they are what help us form habits. Habits are what help us achieve our goals.
As you embark on this new year’s resolution, you will face numerous decisions every day to help yourself move towards your goals. Equally, you will face several distractions which will test you; obstacles will undoubtedly arise and attempt to steal your time, energy, and focus. So, before we start, REMEMBER no matter how much effort you put in, you are going to slip up, the trick is to get back on track straight away, don’t wait for a new week or month and do not punish yourself for falling off the wagon, it is an inevitability we all face.
READ: FFS Co-Founder & Head of Strength and Conditioning Ciaran Ruddock details his own fat loss experiment here
Now, understanding our values. A value is something you prioritise, something which is important to you. Fitness may not be your priority, Family, Friends, Work, Education can all be ahead of health and fitness. That’s fine, but to minimise the effect of falling off track in developing our new habit, it is pertinent we allocate our time and resources towards what is important to us. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being clear on what is important to you; that one moment of heaven whilst eating that chocolate bar after a stressful day or a lifetime of feeling good from eating healthy and being physically active. Be smart, allocate time for your health and fitness goals in 2017, schedule it in where you know you will not be distracted.
TIP: Schedule time to exercise and make this your priority. Kids? School runs? Business meetings? Schedule your exercise before the kids get up, before you have your shower in the morning, there is time, you just must make it a priority, a core value.
Image source: Personal Archives
2) Achieve your goals by not focusing on them
This may seem contradictory and I am sure you have heard it before that one of the most important components in achieving your health and fitness goals in the new year is: Goal Setting.
However, this term is thrown around a lot, the most common goals people set include:
Give up smoking
Take up a new hobby
There are two problems with these goals. One; these goals are not specific enough and Two; they are what are known as outcome goals. At Fitter Faster Stronger, we help our clients develop instead what are known as behavioural goals. Whilst the outcome is important, the process (or behaviour) is what you need to focus on in order to achieve your outcome. Why? Because generally, the outcome is out of our control, however, the behaviour, the process, the action steps we take daily (e.g. what we eat, what we drink, our physical activity levels) are within our control. So, when setting your goal, pick your goal and then write down the action steps you are going to take daily to help you achieve it. These action steps will not only keep you on track but will allow you small wins along your journey, which leads me to my next point; goal achievement.
Let's look at them goals again and restructure them:
Lose weight = I am going to prepare a healthy lunch every morning before work
Get fit = I am going to go to the gym 3 times a week; every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Give up smoking = I am going to cut down on my smoking habit by smoking one less cigarette every 3 days.
Take up a new hobby = I am going to art classes every Tuesday evening
Suddenly, we have control of our goals, we know exactly what we need to do to attain them.
Make sure to check out this TEDx Talk on How to Achieve your Goals
3) Achieving Goals by themselves will not bring satisfaction
Have you considered what will happen when you become “fit”? Many people don’t.
When you achieve your goal, take the time to enjoy the sense of accomplishment of attaining your goal. Be proud, reward yourself accordingly (in a positive way that is, don’t go out and gorge on fast food and alcohol).
Now, realize you now need to set another fitness goal to aim for, maybe you have just completed your first 5km run, what now? Maybe you want to complete your first full push up or chin up or improve your body composition to look good on the beach this summer.
After all, we all want to feel and look our best; it is human nature. I have had many clients in the past who strive day in day out to improve their self-confidence for that upcoming holiday or family event through improving their appearance, and whilst you may not notice very small changes as they occur, be aware achieving your goal of becoming fit does not mean you are done, when you are fit you are going to have to work just as hard to stay fit; so make sure this is something you want.
Image Source: Instagram
TIP: Review and evaluate your goal upon achieving it and what it means to you. Was your goal too easy or too difficult to achieve? You may need to adjust the difficulty of your next goal depending on this.
4) What does it mean to be fit?
A BIG thing that stops people from getting fit is not seeing results. This is completely normal, even I, as a coach, get disheartened when I don’t see personal development after putting in hours in both the gym and the kitchen. An important thing that is rarely disclosed to gym goers or even athletes for that matter is what is referred to as the fitness paradox.
In order for your body to change, you need to give it a reason to change.
In other words, the body likes to burn as little energy as possible, scientifically speaking, this is known as homeostasis; a state of constant or as close to as is possible physiological balance in the human body. Hence, why our weight, hydration or energy levels fluctuate.
Many people think that after a certain period of time working out becomes easy, what I tell my clients is “When training becomes easy that is when we need to take it up a notch”.
Your body will rapidly adapt to your new-found activity level, thus why you will need to work harder and faster. The paradox being, the fitter you get; the harder you have to work to get fitter. So, in essence exercise will never be easy, what happens is your body adapts to the stimulus and your ability to recover improves making exercise not seem as difficult. For example, when you begin you may be able to complete 2 burpees in 10 seconds, as your progress, 2 burpees in 10 seconds will be easy and you will need to complete 3-5+ burpees in 10 seconds to get the same effect.
Understand also, there are various types of ‘fitness’, some people can lift really heavy weights but can’t run long distances, others can run marathons but can’t lift that much weight.
TIP: You don’t need a weighing scales, progress pictures, measurements to assess progress, if you can do something you previously couldn’t, your body isn’t the same. You are stronger, both mentally and physically.
5) You Can’t out exercise a bad diet
Which is the best diet?
The best diet is…The one that works for you!
There is no single one best diet to follow, everyone’s body is different and will react differently to what you feed it, whilst paleo might work for your neighbour, does not mean it will work for you. Listen to your body, if you are Hungry EAT; if you are not hungry DON’T EAT. If you are not hungry and do eat, ask yourself why was it you eat? Was it boredom? Was it stress? Identifying why you eat when you are not hungry will help you to curb this bad habit and help you on your way to achieving your goals.
All exercise has a negative effect on the body, when we are in the gym we are actually breaking the body down, making it weaker. Placing an optimal amount of stress on your body during a training session signals your body to grow back stronger and healthier and that is where diet and sleep come in and play their role. Eat well and recover well.
I. Define our Values
Understand we all have different priorities, certain activities, events and people in our lives come first. If we want to become fitter and healthier in 2017; we need to ensure health and fitness is important to us, we need to make it a priority before we set any type of goal.
II. Focus on the little things
Small things done well, day after day, week after week, month after month are what lead to great big accomplishments. Keep your peripheral vision on what it is you want to achieve in 2017, but remain focused on your actions and behaviours day in day out to attain your goal.
III. Goal Achievement does not equal long term satisfaction
When it comes to fitness, there is a paradox, the fitter you get, the harder it is to stay fit. Do not be disillusioned, whilst you will find you feel amazing, positive and full of energy. You are going to have to work for it. You don’t get fit one day and that is it. You are going to have to work just as hard to stay fit and maybe even harder if you want to get fitter.
IV. Am I Fit Yet?
There are a variety of fitness disciplines, some people are strong, some are flexible, some can run great distances or at great speed. Do not attempt to categorize yourself or compare yourself against another individual. The only person you should compare yourself against is your old self.
V. Eat and Recover Well
Place just as much emphasis on your diet and sleep as you do with working out in the new year, this is where your health prospers.
Read: Why The Time is Now to get fit
Second by second you lose the opportunity to become the person you want to be. Take charge of your life.
- Greg Plitt
 Norcross J, Mrykalo M, Blagys M. Auld lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2002;58(4):397-405. doi:10.1002/jclp.1151.
 Statisticbraincom. 2016. Available at: http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/. Accessed December 18, 2016.
Brian is the Head of Membership Induction and Staff Development at Fitter Faster Stronger. A holder of a BSc. in Exercise Management from University College Dublin and NCSA recognised Strength and Conditioning Coach.
Brian's philosophy is simple;
"The Mind is the Limit".
If you would like to learn more about Brian, you can check out his profile here:
Team FFS - Brian
or follow him on Instagram @brianbren