Your New Year Fitness Resolutions – Are they waning?

Now that 2021 is well on its way, and already we find ourselves in the middle of February. Many of us have tried to put into place measures that we feel will have a positive impact on our health, realised through the implementation of a diet or exercise, and sometimes, if you are feeling particularly motivated, you may try both simultaneously. However, it is at this time, some four to eight weeks into your new fitness regime that you may well find your motivation waning.

Our bodies are immensely resilient; we subject it daily to mental and physical trauma, but do we fully appreciate that whilst its hardiness appears to be (in the short term at least), perpetual, we are quite possibly, not treating it with the care and respect required for longevity. With this in mind, the New Year brings with it an influx of individuals filled with enthusiasm and the best of intentions, to better their health through exercise, and as an advocate of improving health, fitness, and well-being, I commend your intent and action unreservedly: what better time to turn a new leaf than at the start of the New Year.

Whilst I have acknowledged your resolve to better your health, please allow me to provide some simple and gentle guidance which may just prevent you from becoming one of the reportedly 80% ~ 90% of individuals that either lose momentum, or indeed, become entirely derailed by the time March arrives - here are my pointers:

  1. Be mindful of your activities - think realistically about what you want to achieve and then formulate a simple session plan (on paper to provide you with clear direction). Include a 10 minute dynamic warm-up, 30 to 40 minutes exercise (20 to 30 minutes initially if you are particularly sedentary or have not exercised for some time), and a 10 minute static cool-down: do not go into this blindly, and please don't skip the warm-up and cool-downs - they are there (amongst other things) to prevent injury.
  2. Be kind to yourself – be aware of your abilities and limitations, and work with them, not against them: start off at a slow (pace), low (resistance), then, build on these gradually. For cardio-vascular based exercises, ensure your body has recovered from the previous session, and for resistance training i.e. using weights or similar, take rests between 'sets' and also, between changes from one exercise to another. You may well feel a little sore and tired – this is to be expected, but if you have sustained injury, allow your body the time to heal fully before you resume your next session.
  3. Be regular - plan your sessions around a regular schedule. Only you know when you have free time, so if at all possible, aim to complete your training sessions at the same times and on the same days every week: this will form the basis of developing a healthy habit.
  4. How often - my guidance for everyone (regardless of fitness level) is start with two sessions per week if you can - if this is not possible, then once a week will still provide a foundation upon which to build on. Initially, leave at least two if not three days between each session to allow your body to recover: listen to your body and mind.
  5. Hydration & breathing – always take water with you, and then remember to drink it! Additionally, try to regulate your breathing – hard as it may be to do so, do focus on your breathing and be in control of it. If you find you’re breathing erratically then ease up on the activity: you are pushing too hard.

Take on board my basic principles, and they will serve you well, providing you with the best chance of maintaining this most excellent new lifestyle choice of yours. I will not wish you 'good luck' in your endeavours; it is your focus and determination which will serve you best – so, may your determination prove successful, particularly in light of these very challenging times.

As a side note, remember, it's not obligatory to have all new fitness clothing (you probably have everything you need already): keep it simple and functional...You can always treat yourself at a later time, but for now, consider putting the money towards eating healthier, good quality foods.

Yours, Al.

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