When the new year rolls around, every man and his dog has a resolution. To exercise regularly, or get his owner to take him out on more walks, and so on. More often than not, it has something to do with being more physical.
To you I say, "Congratulations". The fact that you have come to the realisation that you need to do something about your health and fitness is already a step. But it doesn't end there. You need to get started, you need to keep it regular, and you need to stay motivated.
But why trust me? I have no degree in health and fitness, and I've never been given professional advice. Well, you can trust me because my story of trial and error is personal, real and what I believe to be effective.
My interest in health and fitness has been gradual. In fact, I've probably been building up to the person I am today for the last 10 years. When I finished school, I spent a lot of my night's on the town, drinking with friends. First it was wine, and then it was beers on Sundays. So, it wasn't long before I began to parade around my significantly larger gut.
I had no idea that it was the booze changing my body, and thought I was just making bad food choices. I was so uneducated that I started cutting fat from my diet. I wasn't even cutting calories, so what I was eating was probably still packed with sugar and salt. I did little exercise, I was moody and basically living on soup sachets. It wasn't long before I realised that wasn't the way to go.
So from there, I upped the exercise, but found it hard to keep motivated. I didn't cut my drinking, so I was still very unhealthy. I couldn't find a happy medium, mainly because I wasn't 100% committed.
I was unhappy with a lot of aspects of my life. I was unsure about my career, my on-off relationship was dragging me down to a place that made me cry more often than laugh, and I wasn't me anymore. I felt like I lost my identity, and the dreams and hopes I had just years before, I had stopped working for.
But it was that place that lead me to something better. At age 26, I figured it out. And this is what I have to share with you. The steps to keep motivated.
1. Assess your surroundings.
Ask yourself, does everything around you make you happy? Are you happy living in a home in which you rarely keep clean, where you never make your bed or never throw anything away? You would be surprised at what clean surroundings can do for your mood. When you wake up in the morning, make your bed. If you've worn that dress a thousand times, give it to the Salvos. You aren't going to be motivated if what surrounds you needs attention, or your house is filled with junk from 1998. If you don't need it, get rid of it. This is the new you, the happy you, in your happy home.
2. Find your goal. This goal of yours is one goal only. So you want to lose 5 kilos, workout 6 days a week or be able to run a marathon. Choose 1 goal and work towards that. If other things get in the way, you'll lose where you're headed and probably give up. Make it obvious to yourself, and set out to get there. Then you can move on to your next goal. But for the moment, it's just the one.
3. Plan. Planning is the centre of my world. Not to a serious extent, but when it comes to staying on track with eating and exercise, there's nothing better than a plan that's right in front of you. You can't go wrong it's right there for you to follow day by day. With exercise for example, I like to plan about 8 weeks ahead. I'll write up every day, and as I achieve each one, I cross it off. There's nothing more satisfying. When you break down your workouts, it doesn't seem so hard. So rather than saying to yourself "I'm going to work out 6 days a week", you just need to say, "I'm going to workout tomorrow" and cross it off as you go.
After 3 weeks, you'll look back at what you've done and think it wasn't that hard afterall.
4. Go public.
By this I mean, tell the people around you, like family and work colleagues of your plans. That way, you can be assured that they're going to ask how it's going. And you know that you're not going to want to fail them, that just makes you look weak.
This is a hard step I know, because as soon as you tell someone, it's almost like whatever you are after is set in stone. You have to achieve. But if you are totally committed to whatever it is, you'll happily tell the world of your plans.
5. Find inspiration.
Lastly, you want to find inspiration to keep you on track. I like to read motivating books or websites. A book that I find really motivating is "A Place of Yes" by Bethenny Frankel. Every time I read another chapter, I immediately want to embrace everything I can be. I want to stay on track, and I want to be the best person I can be.
Bethenny Frankel - Image appears courtesy of Wikipedia
Your inspiration might come in a picture, a pair of jeans you want to fit in to or motivational quotes. Whatever it may be, keep it at arms length throughout the process.
It's a new year, and the best excuse to get out there and be the you that you want to be. And that I hope, will be your last excuse.