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Starting The New Year On The Right Foot

With the start of the new year and the end of the mad year that was 2020, many people will be looking to start 2021 off on the right foot.

Unfortunately, gyms and leisure clubs have been shut again but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals. This simply means that we have to get inventive.

Let’s get back to home workouts and training in our local area. Let’s turn our living rooms into fitness studios! Try to invest in a few pieces of equipment, the essentials being a mat, some sort of weights (dumbbells or kettlebells) and resistance bands. There are plenty of online classes and resources to avail of, from classes that are free (YouTube, IGTV, TikTok) and to the ones you pay for (and most definitely attend). Most personal trainers have made the move online, this could be something to think about investing in too. Almost every exercise can be adapted to do at home and also without weight. The most important thing to note is that you can still achieve your new year goals during Covid times.

Starting a new fitness journey can be quite challenging. It is easy to put too much pressure on yourself at this time of year and set expectations too high. Here are a few tips to help you along the way. Remember to start small and celebrate the little achievements along the way.

Tips

Control what you can. There is nothing productive about feeling frustrated or annoyed about things that you cannot change.

Things that you can control: food, sleep, water intake, exercise from home. These things are as important as going to the gym for your fitness journey and achieving your goals. Things you cannot control, all the food you ate at Christmas or over the holidays, the weight you may have gained and your possible lack of exercise in previous weeks and months.

Focus on what you can change and control in the present day. Start small, this could be deciding to track your food or add in some exercise to your day. You can control and take charge of your routine and make it work for you. This will help you smash your goals.

When it comes to setting goals there are some traps you can fall into. Things like setting your expectations too high or not defining your goals. The S.M.A.R.T goal framework is one of the best ways to avoid any mishaps, (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). This will help you to actually work on your goals.

When you use the SMART goal strategy you are actually thinking in depth about the goal and how you are going to achieve it . Essentially putting a plan in place and hopefully then making your efforts more successful. What does this mean?

Specific – what do you want to achieve? Make it as specific as you can. Instead of saying ‘start running’ say ‘run 5km by a certain date’. When you set a date or dead line this is the timely part of the SMART goal setting.

Measurable – how will you measure what your goal is. This can be determined by different factors depending on your goal. E.g. Running 5km – a measurable distance, deadlifting 50kg – a measurable weight. If you can tell that your goal was achieved then it is measurable.

Achievable – is this goal actually something you can achieve? There is no point setting out to run a sub hour 10km if you have never ran before. If your goal is too extreme or unattainable your motivation to work towards the goal will decrease.

Realistic ties in with achievable goals in terms of setting a goal. It must be something that you can realistically achieve and also takes into consideration the timeliness. Again break down a bigger goal and work towards it. Don’t look for something that is impossible.

Timely give yourself a deadline to get the goal accomplished. This gives you an end date and something else to work towards.

Another tip is to actually write down your goals, on a piece of paper, not on your phone. Put it somewhere that you will see daily, reminding you of what you’re working towards. 

Another part of goal setting is that the motivation to achieve something must come from within. You must want this goal for yourself not because it’s what someone else is looking to achieve. When you set a goal you need to want to do it, otherwise you may work towards it for a week or two but when the going gets tough, you might not have the motivation to continue.

This is called intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when you work towards something that specifically benefits you and has no external rewards, essentially you do it because you enjoy it or want to for yourself. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite and is done because a person seeks praise or a reward. If you really want to make a change you need to focus on what is intrinsically motivating you. No one else is going to do the work for you so you need to focus on yourself!

SMART GOALS

Once you have your goals set out and decided on, now is the time to start putting them into place. This is where planning and routine comes into play. The best way to do this is decide what days and what time you are going to do certain things. If your goal is to start exercising for example you will need to decide what days of the week and time of day you will exercise. Make it part of your routine.

When you have set this out you can organise the day and week around your goal. When you plan something you become accountable. This accountability can also be achieved by asking a friend or family member to be your buddy and exercise with you. This way you can motivate each other and stay accountable. If you require more accountability it could be an idea to invest in an online coach or trainer. That way you will have to check in with someone on a regular basis.

When your journey to achieving your goals has started there are a few more points to note.

  1. Do not throw the kitchen sink at it. Plan your workouts or steps towards your goal. Pace yourself and take it day by day. The last thing you want is to go too hard the first month and then fall behind because you are burnt out. Remember it is a new YEAR resolution and you have the whole year to achieve it. Motivation will be high at the start but try to put things into place to keep it high for as long as possible.
  2. One bad day does not mean a bad week or month. If you do have a ‘bad’ day go back to controlling what you can and work from there. Get everything else in order and reset yourself. Rome was not built in a day, so do the little things to keep going. 
  3. Even the best have bad days. True strength is getting back into it when it goes wrong or gets tough. Everyone has to start somewhere. Get back to your base line and go again. Have things in place that you can rely on when it’s hard. This is where your planning comes into play. If you have planned something, try to commit to it.
  4. Remember everyone was a beginner once. No one is born an expert at anything. If you are a complete beginner do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask someone who is experienced in the area. In terms of fitness, ask an instructor from your gym or a qualified trainer on Instagram. Nine times out of ten we are more than happy to help you out and give you some advice. No question is a silly one and you are definitely not the first or last person to ask it. If you don’t ask you will never know.

Aishling Hehir

Aishling Hehir is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at GoGym in Limerick. Aishling studied Exercise and Health Fitness at the University of Limerick and has competed in all different kinds of sports from athletics to rugby. | Instagram: @AishlingHehir_Fit |

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