When I used to work in a commercial gym this time of year was mental. We would be inundated with new members who are on a mission to get fit and healthy by leaving their old lifestyle and bad habits behind.
By mid February the gym was back to normal, most of the new members are back to their old ways leaving all their aspirations of a better life behind them.
Now I am not knocking those people, it takes guts to admit you need to change and it takes even bigger guts to actually do something about it. Where I feel most of these people fail is down to two things, consistency and sustainability.
Good old Google defines consistency as,
“consistent behaviour or treatment.”
On New Years Eve, millions of people set new goals for the year ahead. For those that want to improve their health these goals might be to lose weight, to have a better diet or to exercise more.
Next come the questions:
How much weight do you want to lose and by what date?
How are you going to have a better diet? Drink more water? Eat more veg? Smaller portions?
What exercise do you want to do? Resistance, aerobic, mobility? How much time can you spare?
There is too much to think about, there is too much to take in. Are you meant to think about all this and still live a life?
When a goal is too large we need to break it down into all the components that we need to check off to complete that goal and tackle each one individually until it becomes second nature and we have created a habit. we need to get rid of all the excess information that we don’t need to worry about at this time.
For example, lets say my goal is to lose 3 stone in weight by the end of the year. To achieve this I need to do the following:
- Exercise 3 times a week
- Drink more water
- Eat more vegetables
- Cut down on my sugar
- Prepare homemade lunches to avoid the sandwich shop at lunch.
Wow, what a lot to think about.
So, I am going to break it down and do a little each say that will help me to achieve my goal.
For the first two weeks I may think about improving my diet. Every night for dinner I may increase the amount of vegetables I eat and cut down on the refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta etc etc). I will do this for about 2 weeks, make it second nature to me and then I may start to do the same thing with lunch and then breakfast.
For the next 2 weeks I am going to take only 1 sugar in my tea or coffee and then when I have got used to this I will then have no sugar in my beverages…..I have actually done this myself.
I am going for a 30 minute walk each day for a few weeks and then maybe join a gym.
The key here is consistency, make a change that you can easily maintain and do it everyday. It will feel strange and uncomfortable to start with but soon it will become a part of your daily routine.
As the famous quote says: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
This point basically follows on from the previous one about consistency. Whatever step you choose to take in your quest for health ensure that you can sustain it. Do not make it too hard or complicated that by week 4 you have had enough and given up on your goal.
Be honest with yourself, if whatever you need to do in order to achieve your goal is too complicated, make it simple. Break it down into the most simple steps you can to ensure you can do it.
This is why people give up the gym, they want to go 4 times a week, they want to go for at least an hour. A few weeks in, this has been hard to maintain and they have missed a few sessions, this pattern continues until they just don’t go anymore. Could they have sustained two sessions a week?
Honesty is always the best policy.
Be true to yourself and what you can and can’t do. Today, we get pulled in all directions and it is down to us and us alone to recognise that we are not superheroes. We can only do so much, if we understand this and tweak certain areas, our goals can still be achieved without having to sacrifice something else.