Going to get fitter/stronger in the new year? Avoid these pitfalls…

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

The new year is here, and statistics show that most of us plan to get fitter, stronger or lose weight in 2012.  But statistics also show that only a fraction of us will actually succeed.  If you are working out your new year resolutions,  make sure you don’t fall into any of these exercise and diet pitfalls…

Doing waaay too much.

Often people overestimate themselves and go:

  • Gym 5-7 days a week!
  • At least 2 hours while in the gym!
  • An exercise class every weekday!
  • Eat nothing but 1 apple a day!

This is unsustainable and will lead to either injury or frustration, but defiantly failure.  Be realistic and practical.

Doing waaay too little.

People often underestimate themselves too.  They have spent their whole lives being told this, that and the other is dangerous, or they can get something for nothing, and have no actual experience of hard, physical work.  So as soon as someone does something that slightly nudges their comfort zone, they back away and decide that is more than enough for this week.  After all, if they have been in the gym for half an hour, they have sat on the bike for a bit and waved the little pink dumbells around…surely they deserve to sit down, have a rest and “recover” with that cake!

Not having a goal or target to aim for.

Many people have a vague idea that they should do something and they want to change their bodies in some vague way.  But unless you have a clear idea what you are aiming for, how do you know if you are getting it or not?  How do yo know if you are improving, staying the same or getting worse?  And if you don’t know if you are improving, it is all too easy to simply assume you are doing fine and slip back into bad, old ways.

Setting an outcome as a goal or target.

And while we are on the subject of setting goals or targets, make sure you choose the right ones.  Don’t set your goal as an outcome, or end result.  Make your target an actual, consistent action to perform.  For example, instead of saying:

  • “I aim to lose weight”, say “I will eat no more than 1 piece of junk food per week”. 
  • “I am going to get fitter”, say “I am going to do something that gets me out of breath for 1 hour, 3 times a week”.

Each of the above “outcome” based goals have many different and sometimes conflicting ways of achieving it.  This breeds confusion in most people.  Instead, choosing the “method” based goal is far simpler, better for long term adherence (consistency) and is a direct route to your desired body change.

Over complicating things.

Keep It Simple should be one of your mantras.  Don’t be one of the people who starts the year with a training programme of 2 dozen exercises per body part, or a diet that reads like a mobile phone instruction manual.  The more complicated something is, more things can go wrong, more loopholes can be found in it and the harder it is to follow consistently.  Start with the basics and don’t complicate things unless you absolutely, positively have to, or your life is at stake!  A good starting point is my “Holy Trinity”.  Click here for more details.

Relying on your memory.

It has been proven time and again that we are rubbish at remembering things when it comes to exercise and food.  We forget what we did in the last training session, we forget what junk food we have had, we forget that we havent done any exercise for a month, we forget that we should not be having that chocolate “treat” 4 times a day. Write it down!  Write down targets, write down deadlines, write down what days we can/cannot treat ourselves.  If it is written down in black and white and stuck up somewhere prominent (eg on our kitchen fridge), then it is harder for us to cheat. If you want to control your weight, then writing a food diary is almost a must!  Click here for more details.

Doing it alone.

Humans are social animals, even me, and I’m an antisocial bugger!  When we are alone, it is easy to fall off the wagon, to wimp out or even quietly convince ourselves that we never really meant it in the first place.  If we are in a group of people with similar aims, we can make it so much easier on ourselves and make use of the peer pressure that comes in such a group.  If everyone around us is doing something, it is much easier to do it ourselves. In fact, a good training partner, social group or coach is worth their weight in gold.  And of course, if you are looking for a coach to help you, contact me today!

Doing it at home.

Every year, people buy home gym equipment (workout DVDs, exercise bikes, ab crunch frames etc), use them once, then never use them again (except maybe as a clothes rack).  For most people, our homes are a place to relax, unwind and have fun with family/friends.  And most of us have developed an almost Pavlovian conditioning to not doing strenuous work or exercise there. There are so many distractions in our homes that most people find it almost impossible to exercise effectively in their own homes.  So get out side, go to a gym, go to a village hall or even go to your training partners house.  Your presence will help them train properly in their home, and they can return the favour at a later date.  In fact, you will almost certainly find it easier to train properly virtually anywhere other than by yourself in your own home! If any of this has made sense to you, please feel free to share it with your friends, or even find me on Facebook.