I can do this.
How often do you start the year with a genuine aspiration to get fit and look after your health and well being?
Now is the time after the festive season that we have the extra energy and motivation to plan the year to come. Making wellness goals in the holidays is easy BUT even with the best intentions, sustaining them during the work year, well, not so much. Yes, in the real world where we are time poor, making a change and achieving a goal is hard work and when something feels hard the extra effort required can challenge the strongest will.
But hard does not have to be bad. Hard is a state of mind that we can actually use to our advantage. Embracing what feels hard allows us the perfect opportunity to step back, look at what we have done previously and revise our approach. We can use our experience to help us organise our time effectively and put strategies in place to keep our I CAN DO THIS attitude thriving all year round.
Here are five simple suggestions to help you re-assess or keep what feels hard at bay in achieving your goals this year:
- Make your health and wellness goal your goal. A personal aspiration is not an ideal you are fed on social media. Be true to what you need for yourself and find the exercise that you love, not what you see other people doing. If you find online streamed or on demand exercise more convenient than going to a gym then embrace that. Loving what you do takes the battle out of staying motivated because doing it makes you feel good and we are happy to do what makes us feel good. Simple as that.
- Find your tribe. Connection to a community is the glue that keeps your I CAN DO THIS attitude in place. We are social beings and working out with like-minded others feeds more than our physical need for exercise. If you are looking for a gym or studio to do your exercise, you need to feel welcome and comfortable in that space before you commit your time, energy and money. Talk to people, do some research on Google. Create a list of things you need that will help you overcome previous barriers to exercise. Fun atmosphere, accessible timetable, friendly staff may be a few. Take up introductory offers, ask lots of questions and, most importantly, trust your intuition when choosing your place.
- Create a plan for the day. Each day is a new day and the platform to focus on just one goal. Have a simple plan to achieve the exercise you want to in the day. Visualise or write down the steps leading up to it. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Get through one day at a time. Most importantly, understand the organisational method that works for you to get there. Whether it is restocking your gym bag with clean gear after each visit or sleeping in your workout clothes so you can get up and go at 6 am, find it and stick to it. Say to yourself each day ‘I stick to the plan’ and you will. The best thing that has come out of Covid is that we have become more creative in the way that we think about exercise. The increase in online classes, fitness apps and outdoor and home gym set ups opens up many more opportunities to fit ‘fitness’ into the day. A daily plan is the structural framework to help you achieve your goal and with each day complete, the structure just gets stronger and stronger.
- Be consistent. The more you practice a new behaviour the sooner it feels like the norm. We brush our teeth every day without question because it is part of staying healthy. Moving your body should be the same. See the exercise you love as essential for your total health and wellbeing. Make it a habit and it won’t become a chore. Better still, find a friend who enjoys the same exercise as you and lock in regular sessions together. When you catch up you can feed the soul as well as the body. A commitment to a membership at a gym, studio or online platform that meets your criteria and where you feel connection is another great way to build consistency.
- Go with the flow and be open to change. If something gets in the way of your plan don’t waste time and energy fretting about it. It is what it is. Use the opportunity to come up with a better one. If you can’t get to Pilates or Crossfit, get creative about other ways to get some exercise into your day. Take the stairs instead of the lift. March on the spot when you are waiting for the microwave. Stretch at the traffic lights. Put your favourite music on and let loose dancing around the house. Being open to going with the flow helps us to discover new things to get excited about!
- Laugh, laugh and laugh some more. Don’t take it all so seriously that you forget to laugh and have fun. Find something to smile or laugh at everyday to keep your spirit alive. The highest mountains are are much easier to climb when you have a smile on your face. If nothing else, your smile might be the difference that makes someone else’s load a whole lot easier to bear.
This post was written by Marisa Lawlor, Owner and Director of Just Believe Fit in Thornbury. A former secondary school teacher, Marisa now facilitates health and wellness through mind body disciplines in a group fitness studio setting. She also delivers workplace wellness programs and presentations.