It’s New Year’s resolution time and, although making them might be fun, they are notoriously difficult to keep if they are unrealistic.
Catherine Viljoen, a biokineticist at Virgin Active, suggests that the focus this New Year should be on what we will gain from our resolutions, not what we will lose if we don’t stick to them.
“We need to relax and be kind to ourselves and to understand that sometimes life gets in the way. The best resolutions are those that improve our lives, those that get us active, feeling good and happy. The rest will follow,” says Viljoen.
The top five resolutions
Although resolutions may differ, surveys over the years confirm that the top five remain around health, weight loss and fitness – whether it’s to make moves on that muffin top and get fitter, to stop smoking and drink less – the underlying theme is about improving our lifestyles.
“When it comes to losing weight, getting fit and eating more healthily, you need to remember that if you can take control of your health you can increase your self-worth,” says Viljoen. “Resolutions are not about judgement or criticism from others but about bettering yourself.”
How to stick to your fitness resolutions
We all know that there is a flurry of ‘activeness’ in January and that health clubs and gyms are at their busiest with everyone trying to shake off bad holiday habits and festive season excesses. The difficult part is maintaining this regime.
Here are some simple suggestions to help enhance the prospects of New Year resolution success.
1. Don’t make a resolution unless it is achievable
Be realistic. Assess where you are now, taking into consideration your current capabilities, amount of time you have available to exercise, finances and then make a resolution that is specific but achievable. Write it down and put it somewhere you can see it – daily.
Then set a goal, like: I’d like to be able to run five kilometres within six months. Break this down into mini, or quarterly goals, document your progress and re-evaluate or adjust to keep you challenged and motivated.
2. Write down the benefits of keeping the resolution
Knowing the reason you want to make this lifestyle change and fulfil the resolution will help you keep focused.
For example, improving your fitness will extend your life. In fact, a Harvard Alumni Health Study recently found that men who started and kept up an exercise programme had a 23% lower risk of death.
South Africa is ranked one of the world’s top 20 overweight countries, with half of men and almost two-third of females physically inactive. Now is the time to change that and you will find that exercise also helps to strengthen your mind and improve your mood. It teaches you to persevere when you are at your most tired. It will keep you energised and mentally sharp.
3. Choose exercise you enjoy
There is nothing worse than working out at something you don’t enjoy!
Rather pick exercise you prefer. You could walk, run, cycle, swim or take exercise classes such as yoga, Pilates, an aerobic workout, cardio or strength. Whatever it is, make this your first option and then keep a good mix so you don’t get bored.
You might prefer to use a personal trainer to work out a routine that targets your specific problem areas, it is your choice, the key is to get started and change habits.
4. Reward yourself
Sticking to your programme – or resolution and goal – will allow you to track your progress and reward yourself. There is no greater motivation than success.
5. Keep your chin up
Remember, no one is perfect. We all have bad days but don’t let that hamper your motivation. Congratulate yourself for completing the goal you set for the day.
We know it takes discipline and can be challenging but your body will thank you.
“Don’t be a New Year’s resolution statistic,” says Viljoen, “rather be proud to have seen it through.”