With literally a matter of days left of 2016, as soon as the presents have been unwrapped and turkey (or tofu in my case!) has been devoured then thoughts turn to New Year. For some this might mean what to wear to your New Years Eve party, but for most this means what promises you’re going to make to yourself to achieve over the next 12 months. And there’s a variation on a theme that tops the list time and time again, year after year. I’m talking of course about the thousands of people who vow every January 1st to make this the year that they “lose weight” or “get fit”. For those of us who work in a gym January is the busiest month of the year bar none for this exact reason. But how many people do you think stick to their resolutions? Depressingly very few. Come March so many of the new faces we welcomed to the gym in January have fallen off the wagon never to be seen again – and more often than not I never get to find out why. So instead of being on of “those” resolution makers – why not make 2017 the year you make New Years promises you can keep? Like what…? Read on to find out how to make New Years Resolutions the Wildcat way!
Photo by Anna Jackson (@annajcksn)
Old Resolution: “I want to get fit”
Wildcat Way: “I want to achieve a measurable physical fitness goal”
Yes, “getting fit” is a resolution list topper to end all list toppers, which is pretty strange given it doesn’t actually mean anything. What is fit? How are you going to measure it? How do you know if you’ve succeeded or failed? Exactly – you don’t, which is precisely why most people give up – because they didn’t actually know what they were trying to achieve in the first place. So rather than make yourself a vague promise, why not set a goal you have to train for that you can actually measure? It could be anything from running your first 5k to achieving your first unassisted pull-up – but why not make a fitness goal that you can track, and that has an actual outcome? You’ll know if you’ve achieved it or not, and can put a plan in place to help you get there.
Old Resolution: “I want to lose weight”
Wildcat Way: “I want to look and feel like the best version of myself”
Shortly behind “getting fit” is the “loosing weight” resolution – again made by thousands of people year after year, and sadly for many broken by Easter time. For similar reasons to the first resolution, most people fail at this resolution because they don’t know how to sustainably lose weight and more often than not don’t know the reason why they want to. You’d be amazed the number of people I’ve met over the years who are fixated on reaching a certain number on the scale and who will starve themselves to get there, feeling utterly depressed in the process, and then wonder why they don’t feel anything other than miserable once that “magic number” has been achieved, and even more confused that their body looks nothing like they thought it would at “goal weight”. The Body Coach calls the scales the “sad step” with good reason – stepping on them and tracking your life according to how many kg you way is a recipe for sadness and when it comes to resolutions disappointment and failure. So rather than vow to shed the pounds in 2017, why not think about how you would like to feel about your body by the time next New Years Eve rolls around? If you stood three women who weight 70kg next to each other chances are they’d look nothing alike – one could be athletic with high muscle mass, one could be petite and curvy, one could be tall and naturally slim – my point being a number on the scale looks different on everyone and rather than using a random figure as a target, why not think about HOW you’d like your body to look? Losing weight in itself is most definitely not a bad thing – but is there a certain area you’d like to work on? For example rather than thinking “I want to lose weight because I dislike my fat arms” why not think about how you DO want your arms to look and how you might get there? If you want to help reduce overall body fat (spot reduction is almost impossible) you might want to look at your daily calorific expenditure and intake and balancing them so that you are in deficit every day to achieve overall weight loss, as well adding in some interval training into your fitness routine to help burn calories even after you finish working out. Then once you’ve lost some body fat you can start to think about how to build upper body strength which in turn will change the way your arms look as you lose fat but build muscle. Swimming, rowing, boxing and weight training (and using equipment from website Emerge Fitness) can all help to change the shape of your upper body, meaning you should feel a lot more love towards your arms in 12 months time. And doesn’t that sound a lot more attractive than three months of eating lettuce and then binge eating Creme Eggs by March as your restrictive “weight loss” plan hasn’t worked?
Photo by Anna Jackson (@annajcksn)
Old Resolution: “I’m going to join a gym”
Wildcat Way: “I’m going to structure my workouts so that I can stick to them throughout the year”
Gym Managers LOVE January. Why? Because that’s generally the month that they make the highest revenue of the entire year. Selling members a 12 month contract they’re tied into which seems like a great idea to them at the time, until April when their membership cards are gathering dust underneath a pile of magazines in the living room, never to be used again. So rather than let that happen to you, why not stop and think – WHY are you joining a gym? Do you want to use the gym floor? Great. So what are you going to do when you get there? Have a couple of panicked workouts where you basically only use the cross trainer because you don’t really know how anything else works and are too scared to find out? You wouldn’t be alone there. If you’re joining a gym to use the gym then think about what you’re doing to do to get the value out of that membership month in month out. And if you don’t know then ask the gym to help you – have they got an induction programme where they can show you around and how all the kit works? Or does your January deal include any Personal Training sessions to help give you a kick start to get back into a routine? If not why not considering hiring a PT, even for just a few sessions? Sure, us PT’s aren’t cheap – but then nor is a 12 month contract at the gym when you stop going after 6 weeks. I’ve trained many clients in the past who only want a handful of sessions to help give them ideas of what to do on their own or to design plans they can easily follow by themselves, or indeed just to check their exercise technique before going it alone. Most Personal Trainers should be happy to offer you this service too so you can truly make the most of your time on the gym floor.
Or do you prefer Group Exercise Classes? If so have you actually checked the gym timetable at the club you’re planning to join? Does it have enough variety at times that work for you? Can you use other branches of the same chain if you end up in another part of town with no hope of making it back to your neighbourhood for your usual 7pm spin class? These are all things to consider before shelling out that subscription fee. If you’re a class junkie you may even want to look into a scheme like Class Pass whereby you can try different classes at different gyms without the commitment, or have a look at introductory offers that most studios have. The majority will offer you a first class or classes for a special fee so that you really can try before you buy – or indeed take the plunge into something that should theoretically become part of your weekly routine. I had so much fun at this special fitness Bloggers class at boutique indoor cycling studio Psycle (you might be able to tell from our sweaty but smiling faces!) With enough research, you’re bound to find a class that works just as well for you.
Instead of following the New Years herd to their nearest leisure centre, do your homework and rather than “joining a gym” pick the option that works best for you to ensure you are working out – when and where it suits you, rather than wasting your membership and lining a corporate gyms’ pockets!
The reality is, as with any kind of goal, to have any chance of reaching it it needs to be both achievable and realistic, and ideally with a specific result in mind. If you are determined to make 2017 the year that you make a change – whether in your body, your diet, your gym habits, sleep patterns…… make sure you know what you want that change to be or look like. And if you need some help along the way please comment on this post, drop me an email or leave me a message on one of my social media accounts. Or if you have friends or family in similar situations then be accountable to them – letting someone else know your intentions is a great way to stay on track throughout the year. Because remember – the gift of fitness is for life – not just for Christmas!
Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy 2017 to all my Wildcat Readers and thank you for your continued support this year!