Now we’re into the annual rounds of resolutions as we turn the corner into 2016. There are people who will sail through whatever goals they set themselves. There are people for whom the resolutions route resembles a roundabout. If you’re in the latter category there are people out there who can help you onto the straight road.
Dr. Ailis Brosnan is one such person. equipped and qualified to advise and create guidelines to get people on that road and keep them there.
Here, Dr. Ailis sets out a clearly defined, common sense list of recommendations on how to achieve the goals we regularly set ourselves at this time of year.
“Many people start off the New Year with great intentions but unfortunately they don’t last very long! These tips will help you get started and stick with it,” said Dr. Ailis.
1. Get Clear
The first step is to get clear on what it is you want to achieve – what are your goals in relation to your exercise – do you want to build up to 30 minutes daily or do you want to complete your first triathlon? Whatever it is you need to set clear goals. Setting a goal is one of the key elements that will help you stay motivated to exercise when challenges arise. It gives you the reason for doing what you are doing and when you break it down into short-term weekly goals it helps you focus on what you need to do on a daily basis. I find that when people choose an event to participate in it really helps with motivation if it is a shared experience – if your goal is to complete a 5km run there is no comparison to the experience of doing it on your own versus doing it as part of hundreds of others in a fun event. There is such a great choice of all kinds of events out there so I recommend you choose one that fits with your goals and go for it!
2. Write it Down
Research shows us that if we write down our goals we are more likely to achieve them. Making a written commitment and leaving it somewhere you can see it will help to keep your goals in mind. To help you with this step you can find a ‘Goal Setting Worksheet’ in the resources section of http://yourhealthylivingcoach.com. Take a few moments to complete this and share your commitment with your friends, on Your Healthy Living Coach Facebook page or wherever else you feel you will get support. To take this one step further, you could do up a vision board with images of how you want to be – this can also be a very powerful exercise, especially if you are visual. I recommend leaving this somewhere you will see it daily and it will remind you of your goals and your vision for yourself.
3. Use an Exercise Diary
Using an exercise diary has many purposes – firstly it allows you to plan your week, secondly it allows you to record what you actually did and thirdly you can review your week and reward yourself when you have achieved your goals. You can also clearly see why you might not have reached your goals so you can get some strategies in place to help you overcome your particular challenges. Having someone to report your progress to can also help – a spouse, a friend, a coach or a co-worker. You will find a ‘Weekly Physical Activity Diary’ on http://yourhealthylivingcoach.com to help get you started. Feel free to copy it and use weekly – it helps to keep it in a prominent place so you can see it (and use it!) daily.
4. Always Have your Gear to Hand
Be prepared! To fit your exercise into an already busy schedule you need to be an opportunist! If you always have your gear close by, then you are more likely to be able to maximise opportunities to be active. Having a pair of running shoes and a rain jacket in the car, will allow you to grab a quick walk any time you find you have an extra 10-15 minutes. While you are waiting for children to complete their sports activities you could get your walk in around the venue. If you have your swim/gym bag all packed in the car, you are much more likely to go directly after work than if you have to go home and head back out again. Think ahead to how you can be prepared.
5. Use the Time
Time is the number one excuse people use for not exercising. Yet, all you need to obtain health benefits is 30 minutes a day…and we have 1,440 minutes in a day! So, it’s time to make your ‘you time’ a priority and schedule in that exercise appointment. If you want to maximise the use of your time you could double up and listen to music or a podcast that you have wanted to listen to for a while. You could use the time to repeat positive affirmations about your exercise habits, your health or your goals. You could walk and talk with a friend you have wanted to catch up with. You could use your exercise as a meditation in motion, by keeping your focus on your breath or your movements. You could also have an active family day out at the beach, park or woods. There are lots of ways to combine and integrate your exercise into your life.
6. Mix it Up
Variety is the spice of life. To keep things interesting I always recommend varying your activity as much as you can. Even if you just like to walk, changing your regular route (even doing it in reverse direction) can help keep things interesting. Weekends are a good time to explore new routes, make an effort to get out in nature and get social with family and friends. There are usually a variety of exercise classes available which can give you an opportunity to try something new. Check out what’s happening at your local gym or adult education classes as they often have a range of fitness classes on offer.
7. Do it First Thing in the Morning
Exercising first thing in the morning sets you up in a great frame of mind for your day and helps you face any challenges that arise. It also minimizes the excuses that might arise if you were to leave exercise to later in the day. Get your workout clothes ready the night before, so as soon as you wake up, you are ready to ‘get up and get out’ for your workout. If you do this every morning you’ll create an extremely powerful habit that will ensure you get your daily workout in.
8. Go with a Friend
Having an exercise ‘date’ with a friend is a fantastic way to get motivated on the days you just ‘don’t feel like it’. On days that your energy is low or the weather isn’t so nice, if you have pre-arranged to go with someone, you are much more likely to make the effort to go out. It also brings a social element to your exercise, which adds to enjoyment. In addition to exercising with friends you could also consider joining a group or club. Walking groups might introduce you to new walking routes or going with a cycling club can add to safety on the roads and encourage you to try longer distances than you would do on your own.
9. Get a Dog
If you prefer to exercise alone as some people do then maybe consider getting a dog! Amazingly, 67% of dog walkers achieve the recommended 30 minutes of exercise just by walking the dog! This forms a great foundation for building your fitness and anything you might do beyond this will just add to your fitness and your health. Naturally there are other responsibilities involved in owning a dog but worth considering from an exercise point of view!
You absolutely must enjoy the type of exercise you chose otherwise it will be hard to stick with it. Bear in mind that if you are starting from a low level of fitness, it does take a few weeks to build up your fitness to a level where you can feel the psychological benefits and they begin to outweigh the effort. Too often I have seen people giving up too soon – if you can get past what I call the initial ‘effort barrier’ the rewards are so worthwhile. Trying a variety of activities allows you to discover or even rediscover what you enjoy doing. There are so many options out there to try and more and more sports are encouraging beginners to give it a go. There is something for everyone no matter what your starting ability or fitness level – you just need to discover what activities you enjoy the most.
Contact Dr. Ailis Brosnan on 085 77 25 133. Upcoming courses and programmes include: Steps to Health Workshop: Killarney on Saurday, January 9th or in Tralee on Sunday, January 10th. – INSPIRE Healthy Weight Loss programme: Tralee on Monday, January 11th or online from Moday January 11th.
For more information on healthy living, visit: https://www.facebook.com/YourHealthyLivingCoachAilis