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.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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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