Set fitness goals you can actually achieve
Unrealistic targets will set you up for frustration and disappointment
By Rob Williams, Postmedia
January is resolution time in the fitness industry, and that's fine with me. I'm a supporter of whatever motivates people to get moving and improve their health.
If you're going to take advantage of the collective momentum toward increased exercise, healthy nutrition and better lifestyle choices at this time of year, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success, and others that will lead to certain failure.
Most people who look to New Year's resolutions for fitness inspiration probably aren't on this ride for the first time. In my 20-year career, I've seen that there are all kinds of people.
Some have the good fortune and good practice of living their lives in a constant state of motion and wellness. They exercise regularly, eat cleanly and make their own health a priority.
Others are at the opposite end of the spectrum, viewing exercise and healthy lifestyles as unnecessary or unappealing.
Most of the people I've come across live somewhere along the continuum between these two extremes, recognizing the importance of exercise and good health, and striving to maintain a lifestyle balance that optimizes their fitness and wellness.
I'm guessing that many of these individuals are looking forward to a healthy start to 2012. Here are my tips to help you get there.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
If you launch into a New Year's fitness program with unattainable goals, you're setting yourself up for disappointment, frustration and failure. Establish short-term and long-term goals that you can achieve if you work at it and make these goals part of your plan for fitness success.
FIND A FRIEND
The buddy system really works when it comes to exercise. In fact, find a couple of buddies so your momentum won't be disrupted if one of them is sick, or has to cancel on you. Establish a convenient schedule for getting together to exercise, and stick to it. You're less likely to skip a workout if other people are counting on you, and you'll work harder when you're not alone.
TALK IT UP
Tell people around you about your new plan and ask them for support and encouragement. Having this kind of social commitment can add a helpful layer of motivation and improve your adherence.
KEEP IT FRESH
Boredom is a sure way to lose interest or motivation in your fitness efforts. Whether it's exercise or eating, you need to make sure that you mix things up enough to keep yourself stimulated. This can also contribute to increased results, as your body won't get complacent.
I doubt that many people have the time to read enough books or test the methods necessary to become an expert in the fields of fitness and nutrition.
Try to accept the fact that there are qualified specialists who can help you achieve your goals, and engage them as needed. You will be glad you did.
Start every training plan with some relevant baseline measurements of body weight, heart rate, strength,
flexibility, etc., and monitor them regularly as you go. Having objective measures of your progress will provide motivation and incentive to keep up the good work.
I've seen so many people put off starting a fitness program because there's always some reason that they're not ready. There's no time like the present, and anyone can do it. Make a plan and get on with it!
An important part of making your plan involves preparing yourself and your environment for success. For example, if you don't have exercise clothing, it could be pretty hard to go for a workout. Gather the gear you need for training, stock your kitchen with healthy food, tell the people at the office to stop bringing you doughnuts, and renew your gym membership so it's easy to succeed!
SLEEP IT OFF
Sleep could be the secret weapon when it comes to exercise, fitness and weight loss. If your body is overtired, you'll find it hard to get motivated to work out and the hormonal changes that occur can encourage your body to hold onto body fat. You could also be prone to more injuries if your body doesn't get adequate recovery sleep. Strive for seven to eight hours each night.
Rob Williams is a kinesiologist and posture specialist in Vancouver: