‘New year, new me’ is a phrase that will be branded around over the next few weeks as we are all keen to stick to our New Years resolutions. Gyms will be full of enthusiastic people trying to shed pounds that they have accumulated from one too many pigs in blankets, and good on them. But before a bead of sweat has even touched the new gym clothes that were kindly bought at Christmas, the hoards of new gym members will have vanished not to be seen until next January. This happens year after year and no matter how many half priced gym deals or memberships for £1 will change this. This occurs for a number of reasons and this article will focus upon the top four reasons many people fall at the first hurdle, after all fitness and health is of utmost importance not just one month a year.
Have confidence. This one may be easier to say than do. Everyone has to start somewhere and even the biggest, most muscular guy or the cardio king/queen had those first days’ fears and anticipation of walking into the gym and not knowing where any of the equipment is and sometimes what to do. Go in with your head held high and talk to the instructors and other people in the gym (not when they are in the middle of working out or make it obviously clear they do not wish to engage in conversation!) that is what they are there for and get paid to do (the instructors). In time from both experience and learning from other people you will find what works best for you and in turn your confidence will grow as your waistline slims and fitness levels increase. Make gradual changes. This may seem to contradict certain beliefs and information out there but if we go all out gun ho this may actually have negative effects on our ability to stick to our new diets and exercise regime. If we are currently doing no exercise and jump into a regime where we do five gym sessions a week we are going to be tired and ache uncontrollably. Is this a feeling that will encourage us to carry on doing this on a regular basis? Of course not we will feel this pain and want to stop and that would be the sensible thing to do. Same goes with our diets. If we are currently not eating any fruit or vegetables and consuming copious amounts of chocolate and crisps, suddenly stopping this and drastically dropping calories is only going to result in one thing. Feeling bad and lacking energy. Again this is not something we want and will give up this within a week. Make gradual changes as you will more likely stick to these and making additional changes will be easier in the long run. For example start exercising a couple of times a week and as you get fitter increase the amount of times you exercise a week and the amount of time each session lasts. Do something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy running then don’t run, if we didn’t enjoy smoking we wouldn’t smoke that would be purely idiotic. We often forget about this when exercising and as a nation seem to enjoy making ourselves not enjoy certain things or making things harder than they should be. Exercise should be fun, increase our fitness levels, happiness, confidence and even our social life. Plodding along on a treadmill alone for hours upon hour if you don’t enjoy it is not a good use of time or energy and you will most likely stop it. If you find something you enjoy, e.g. mountain biking, 5-a-side football, aerobics do it, don’t overthink it just do it. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Don’t be too restrictive. As with the point above this is something that we are often guilty of. Of course we need to be restrictive to some degree and I’m not condoning being too laissez faire in your approach to exercise and diet as this will result in progress stalling. If you’re new gym regime and diet stop you from seeing family, loved ones and enjoying your life then you will need to change this. Missing events for the gym or turning down drinks at the office will only result in us being unhappy and more likely to overeat or want to ‘cheat’. Missing a session every now and then will not greatly affect our fitness levels or progress, as with eating a slice of chocolate cake at a party. We are all human and need these breaks occasionally, and shouldn’t feel guilty because of this. Overall if we follow these four simple rules we will be more likely to stick to our new exercise plans and diets, learn to love them and they will become second nature. By gradually changing both our exercise regimes and eating habits, enjoying our training and not being too restrictive our confidence will grow our results will increase and we will stick to exercising and eating healthy in the long run. Scott Freeman @sfreem88