Welcome to my personal training blog. There is so much information around regarding exercise and diets it's hard to know what is going to work for you. With over 12 years in the industry, I aim to bring my experience and knowledge to this blog so you can learn the best way's to achieve your health and fitness goals.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Making a plan

Now we have our clearly defined goal with all the reason's why we want it, we need to create a plan on how we are going to achieve it.The best way to approach this is to write down all the steps you will need to take in order to achieve your goal. Make sure each step is quite detailed , avoid vague general descriptions. For example; exercise regularly is far to vague. Break it down - how regularly, what form of exercise, what days will you exercise, at what time etc. Be very specific.

Once you have a list of detailed tasks that if you followed each and every one of them you would achieve your goal arrange your list according to what order they need to be done in. For example if you are running the marathon the first action might be to contact a running coach to help devise a training schedule and the last action is to organise celebratory drinks at the pub afterwards or if it's weight loss then you first action may be to contact a personal trainer and the last action is organise a photo shoot with you looking fabulous.

Don't be afraid to ask for help even if that costs money. Many of us wouldn't even consider doing our tax each year because it's far too complicated yet feel that we know enough to make a plan for us to lose weight or get fit. The human body is the most complicated object there is so why do we think we know enough after reading a few articles in a magazine to devise a training program that will give us the body you want? Dont try and save a few pounds at the expense of never reaching your goal. If it costs £500 to see a peronal trainerfor 10 sessions it may be the best £500 you've ever spent. A good personal trainer will not only show you how to get the results you want but educate you on how to maintain them for the rest of your lives.

We are happy to fork out thousands and thousands of pounds on education but balk at the thought of spending money on a professional to help us become fit and healthy. So we can resign ourselves to being educated with a good job but overweight, stressed, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sore back and knees or we can spend some money and learn how to reverse all that and keep it off for the rest of our lives. Seems like money well spent to me!

Once you have created a training plan either by yourself or with the help of a professional, breakdown the plan into daily tasks and each night before going to bed review your daily tasks for tomorrow ensuring you know what you are supposed to do.

I often hear people say they couldn't eat anything healthy because there was nothing in the fridge as if it's not their fault! All that tells me is they either failed to plan or chose not to follow the plan. Somewhere in the plan should be written "Go to the shops" at a time that fits in with their schedule. If you didn't go shopping then either re-write your plan or re-evaluate your goals again because it looks like they may not be so important to you afterall.

At this stage you should now know what you have to do every single day in order to achieve your goal ,all you have to do is do it!

The final blog in his series will show you how you can say motivated as a plan is only any good if you actually follow it.

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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

New Years Resolutions that work Part 2 - Why bother?

If you read the last blog and followed the steps outlined you will now have a clearly defined ambitious goal that you are particularly passionate about and with a definite timeframe. The next part is probably the hardest part of the whole process.

Why do you want your goal? Why is it that important to you? Think very carefully about your answers and try and find the underlying reasons. Why do you want to lose weight? The simple answer might be because you will look better. The next question is what’s wrong with the way you look now? How will losing weight make you look better and why is that important? How will losing weight affect your life? What effect will it have on your self confidence, relationships, professional life, health etc etc. Really analyse why you want to lose weight.

Similarly you will need a very good reason to train for a marathon because they involve a lot of training and they hurt like hell, so unless you've got some very good reasons to put yourself through that pain then you won’t make it. Think about what is it about the marathon that appeals to you? Why do you need to run one? How will it improve your quality of life?

Now you’ve got the reasons why you need to think about someone else apart from yourself. How will setting about achieving your goals affect your relationships and your work? Will it be a positive effect or negative? Is the goal worth aiming for if it has a negative effect? How much support will you have from friends and peers to achieve your goal? You may decide that although you really want to do a marathon, maybe just after your wife has had a baby is not the best time or you may reason that although exercising to lose weight will take 3-4 hours out of the short amount of time you have with your family the benefits to them in terms of your health, your mood, your ability to have quality time with them instead of snapping at them because your stressed outweighs the reduction in time.

This may require some slight modification of your goals to fit in with the higher priorities in your life. If you are an Olympic athlete then your highest priority is your sport; everything else must come second. Most of us aren’t Olympic athletes so we have other priorities such as family and work that must take precedence. The time and money you have available will to some extent be determined by these higher priorities in life. However sometimes we use these as excuses when they needn’t be.

If you really want something and that something is going to make you a better person in some way then there is not too many loved one’s who would get in the way of that. Don’t make a judgement on what they might say, discuss what you are trying to achieve with them, let them see where you are coming from and then talk about how that fits in with the priorities in your lives.

Now that we’ve got our loved ones on board with us we can start really connecting with the reality of achieving the goal. Write down or visualise how you will feel when you have achieved your goal, think about it in as much detail as possible. Think about how it will feel to weigh 3 stone lighter, what you will look like, what kind of clothes you will wear, how confident you will be, what your self esteem will be like, how it will effect your relationships, your work – both current and future. Think about how it will feel crossing the finish line of the marathon, what emotions will be running through your mind, who will be there to share in the moment with you, how will you feel a week later, in what way will it effect you in the longer term.

Once you have done this write down or visualise what you will feel like in a year’s time if you haven’t achieved what you set out to. How disappointed you will feel, how much more weight will you have put on, what it will be like to be another dress size bigger, how will you feel watching the marathon from the sideline.

If you can’t really visualise or imagine how you will feel if you achieve your goal and you cant imagine how you would feel if you didn’t achieve it then obviously that goal is not that important to you. Highly motivated people have a very keen sense of what it will feel like to realise their ambitions and also how it would feel to not even try.

In the next blog we’ll talk about creating a plan and what you need to do on a daily basis to keep to your plan and stay motivated.

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New Years Resolutions that work! Part 1 What do you want?

Ever wondered why those new years resolutions never quite turn into reality? Why all those great ideas about getting fitter, running a marathon, learning a language, eating healthy etc never really make it past January? Have you given up making new years resolutions as you have never manage to keep them? How do you lose all that motivation that you have in January?

There is a select group of people out there that set themselves goals at the start of the year and actually achieve them, a group of people that somehow manage to sustain that motivation throughout the whole year and end up reaching their goals. This group of people prove that it can be done. Fortunately there is no inherent genetic trait all these people have; they simply follow some basic rules on how to go about achieving their goals.

The hard part of achieving anything worthwhile is not actually the specific task, it’s convincing yourself to do the task in the first place. Going for a 60 minute run is not that difficult; convincing yourself to do it when it’s cold and raining outside is much more difficult. Eating a healthy meal is very easy; saying no to the chocolate pudding afterwards is difficult.

Staying motivated and inspired is the key to achieving any goal. Getting inspired and motivated is very easy. Keeping it going for a whole year takes a little work. The good news is it doesn’t actually take that much work. If you put in a bit of effort at the start and generate some momentum then it doesn’t take much to keep it going. Much like pushing a car, it takes a big push to get it going but once you have it going it is relatively easy to keep it going.

What I’d like to share with you is exactly what these people do that keeps them motivated and enables them to achieve what they set out to.First of all you need to define your goal. This may sound simple but there is a lot more to this than you might think.

Many of us have heard the concept that goals must be realistic. Well I’m not a big believer in this. Do you think Roger Bannister was realistic when he said he wanted to break the 4 minute mile? Was Edmund Hilary being realistic attempting Mount Everest? Do you think it’s realistic for a blind person to climb Mount Everest? (it has been done!)... I think you see where we I am coming from. Nothing great ever came from someone setting realistic goals. One of my favourite quotes comes from T.S. Eliot - “Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go.” So when thinking about your goals aim big as who knows what you can achieve. Another popular saying goes "It is better to aim for the stars and hit the moon, than to aim for the trees, and hit the ground."

Think about what you really want to achieve without making any judgement on whether you think it’s possible or not. One thing is for sure – it certainly isn’t possible if you don’t try. Your goals should reflect something you are really passionate about, something that really matters to you. A goal that is not a want or a hopeful wish but something you need to achieve.

Once you’ve come up with your goal you now need to define it. What exactly are you trying to achieve. If it is to run a marathon what exactly do you mean- are you aiming for a certain time, will you be happy just to finish or unless you manage to run the whole way you won’t fell you have achieved your goal? When you say you want to lose 3 stone what exactly do you mean? Is it the weight you want to lose or is it size. If you could only lose 2 stone but look ever leaner than when you where 3 stone lighter would you be happy with that? Is it about weight or about how you look or what dress size you are or how you feel? Each of these can effect how you go about motivating yourself to achieve your goal.

Now you’ve clearly defined what your goal is you need to specify a time frame. When do you want it by. Without putting a date on your goals they are meaningless. Saying you are going to run the marathon one day places no urgency on completing training sessions as you can always say “training isn’t going so well this year, I’ve been really busy I’ll do it next year” If you haven’t set a time on when you want to lose weight by then it doesn’t really matter if you don’t exercise for a week as you can just lose the weight next month or year or decade. Putting a time frame on a goal gives it urgency and makes you commit.

You may need professional help to do this as if you don’t know how long it would take to safely lose 3 stone then saying you are going to do it in a month is setting yourself up for failure. If you want to do a marathon next month and you’re not running at all yet then targeting a sub 3 hour run may just demoralize you. On the other hand be careful with any time frames they give you as they won’t know how determined you are to achieve your goal and may be selling you short. You can bet anything that when Erik Weihenmeyer (first and only person to climb Mt Everest blind) approached climbing instructors with the aim of climbing Mt Everest he probably got quite a few people who told him it couldn’t be done. He persisted until he found someone whose outlook matched his and the rest is history.

So now you have a clearly defined goal with a definite time frame. A goal you are particularly passionate about and a goal that doesn’t sell yourself short. In the next blog I’ll discuss what to do next. We aren’t quite finished with goals just yet.

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