It’s a new year, and for millions of people around the world, there is a new year’s resolution that they seek to achieve.
This is not simply a resolution, it is a challenge to make 2017 the year you finally realize your vision of being healthy, vibrant and physically fit.
But there are many obstacles that you must face before realizing this vision.
In this article we are going to provide practical solutions and strategies to overcoming these obstacles, how to jumpstart your fitness journey, what you must do and what you must not do and we are even going to not only provide you with an example of a plan, but show you how to make your own ,specifically tailored for you.
If you go to any gym now of year, you will find dozens of fresh new faces who are looking to improve their bodies. They all have a shared goal of a healthier, happier life. But the truth is, most of them won’t last. Most will miss a day and never go back, or their expectations will be unrealistic, and they will give up before they can see real results.
I don’t want you to be among them. I want you to achieve these goals you have set out to do. The first thing you need to do is define exactly what it is you want. Let’s say your goal is to lose weight, how much weight exactly? How many lbs./kgs? Or maybe you want to build muscle, okay, how much muscle? Or maybe like many, you simply want to be the healthiest you have ever been?
To start, the first thing you MUST do is get specific. You can’t hit a target that isn’t clearly envisioned.
Secondly, you must ensure that your goal is not too big OR too small. The former is obvious, you must have realistic expectations (with correct diet and workout regimens you can expect a maximum of 5lbs of fat loss per week or 1lb of muscle gain per week respectively depending on your goal).
However, aiming to low can certainly have an impact on whether you stand a chance of achieving the goal. When we aim low, we often don’t push ourselves and don’t feel the surge of motivation to make a massive change in our lives. Dream big, be specific and have an actionable and reasonable plan to get there.
More Things to Do
Don’t Forget the Diet
When making any major change to your health, there is two major factor to consider. The first is exercise and the second, diet.
Diet is something people often let take a back seat to exercise, but the truth is BOTH are needed. Without exercise, you will get healthier if you improve your diet but you won’t gain muscle much if at all and you won’t lose weight nearly as fast.
However, without the diet, it doesn’t matter how much exercise you do, you won’t make much progress if any. Always have a meal plan, always keep track of the quality and quantity of your food and drink and don’t forget the importance of diet.
Keep records of progress. This will have two hugely positive impacts upon your journey towards becoming the healthiest you have ever been.
Firstly by keeping records, you can track your progress and see the pace at which you are improving much easier, this will allow you to see progress every workout, that extra 30 seconds on the treadmill, that extra rep on the bench, seeing these small incremental improvements makes up for the slow physical results and will keep you motivated with constant progress always being made.
Don’t Take an Unplanned Day Off
The instant you decide you can’t be bothered one day, your chances of fulfilling your goal decrease dramatically. Taking a day off every now and then is fine, but if you don’t plan this and just allow yourself to slip, you subconsciously give yourself permission to slack in the future. If you need to take a day, firstly plan it in advance and secondly make up for it with an extra workout as soon as you can.
Have a Routine
The primary thing that will determine if you reach your goal or not is whether you have turned your diet and exercise routine into a habit. Once a habit is formed (this takes, on average around 23 days) you are extremely more likely to succeed than fail. For example, you don’t need to be motivated to brush your teeth in the morning (hopefully!) as this is a habit that you have formed over a prolonged period.
Once a habit is established it simply becomes part of your daily life instead of feeling like something you must go out of your way to achieving. To establish a habit, you need to have a routine whereby you go to the gym for instance, on the same days of the week, every week and preferably at the same time. Establishing this habit is a sure-fire way to make sure your success is much more likely.
Get an Accountability Partner
This is something I would recommend to anyone and everyone looking to better themselves in 2017. Not just regarding health and fitness but in anything in your life, you wish to improve.
An accountability partner is another person who is looking to achieve a goal with whom you are going to build a mutual support system.
For example, if you were looking to get fitter, you would get a partner for the gym. While at the gym you would provide each other with motivation, furthermore you both must give each other an in-depth understanding of your goals so that they can tell you when you are slacking or support you when you are doing well.
When you go to the gym on set days (see “Have a Routine”) with your accountability partner you will be much less likely to miss a day as you would be letting your partner down, thus making you accountable for your actions as it is not only you who will affect.
What Not to Do
When you are at the gym, preparing a meal or just reviewing your records, ALWAYS focus on the task at hand.
If you are thinking about work while at the gym, you are doing it completely wrong. You must focus on every movement, every repetition and every single moment you spend working out in the gym.
Or when making a meal, you must ensure that all measurements are correct and that you are making the meal properly. If you are going to achieve your goals you need to ensure they are a priority when you are undertaking tasks to do with them, otherwise you are just wasting your time.
This means no texting while working out and no stopping to talk every 2 minutes and if you are on the treadmill and can still hold a conversation? You are not pushing yourself.
Not Give 100% Always
If you are working out and as said, for instance, talking while on the treadmill, you are making a vital mistake.
You must always be seeking to push your boundaries, not only does this ensure consistent progress but it will also ensure that your confidence increases dramatically.
I saying among the US special forces group, the navy seals, is known as the 40% rule. The 40% rule basically states that when you think that you have reached your limit, you are, in fact, only 40% of the way there. If you keep this rule in mind, you will gain progress by leaps and bounds.
Always put your best foot forward.
This is where your accountability partner will come into play. Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t do something. Sure, sometimes something will come up that you can’t avoid but 95% of the time it isn’t a good a reason, and you are just hurting yourself by making excuses.
A good way to stop this is when you don’t feel like it, commit to just 3 minutes. This is a strategy that Bear Grylls advocates as I personally have tried it and find it incredibly useful.
Essentially, when you don’t feel like going to the gym, and you don’t feel like working out it is much easier for you to commit to at least getting there and doing 3 minutes of work. After you have done this and have been there for those 3 minutes, you can go. I would say that the clear majority of the time, if not all the time, you will simply stay and complete your workout.
Know your limits and don’t bite off more than you can chew or you will not reach your goal. If you expect to become Arnold Schwarzenegger in a year, you are going to lose hope very early on.
Set reasonable and optimistic goals and be persistent with your hard work and you will achieve what you set out to do and likely more. Setting a goal that is physically impossible is a certain way to ensure not only that you will fail but that you will give up and never achieve anything, having been put off by the lack of progress in comparison to your overwhelmingly impossible target.
How to Effectively Plan to Reach Your Goal
Something that always disrupts someone’s ability to reach a goal is the fact that they set the goal without providing a framework for how to reach it. Sure,they might plan to go to the gym, but they turn the process into A to B plan of start and finish. This is setting you up for failure. Instead look at it regarding increments AND offer rewards.
Here is what the first A-B process looks like:
- I want to lose 60lbs by the end of the year, so I will go to the gym, workout and diet.
And here is a sample of what an incremental goal, the setting system looks like:
- I want to lose 60lbs by the end of the year.
- 60lbs across 12 months = 5lbs per month/1.25 lbs. per week
- With a weight of 220lbs:
January= Reach 215 lbs., Reward= You’ve established a habit, buy yourself a gift
February= Reach 210 lbs., Reward= Cheat meal day
March= Reach 205 lbs., Reward= New running shoes
April= Reach 200 lbs., Reward= Cheat meal day
May= Reach 195 lbs., Reward= Complete something from you bucket list
June= Reach 190 lbs., Reward=Cheat meal day
July= Reach 185 lbs., Reward= Go on Vacation
August= Reach 180 lbs., Reward= Cheat meal day
September= Reach 175 lbs., Reward= Cheat meal day
October= Reach 170 lbs., Reward= New Outfits for your new body
November= Reach 165 lbs., Reward= Cheat meal day
December= Reach 160 lbs., Reward = Enjoy a guilt free holiday period
This is just a basic example of your goal setting system. Alongside this you should create a diet plan that is outside the scope of this article, however so long as both the size and contents of a meal are healthy and you eat with a regular pattern, you will be fine.
For gaining weight nothing beats free weights at the gym, you face a longer process than those trying to lose weight, but you benefit from a better diet program.
If you follow the methods set out in this article, you are way ahead of the curve regarding achieving your goals for 2017. Don’t lose motivation if your goals seem far away, imagine where you would be if you started a year ago, as I’m sure you wish you had and knew that you will end 2017 in an even better position as a healthier, more confident and happier version of yourself.