It's that time of year again when there are a bucket load of good intentions to start exercising, adopt a healthier lifestyle,etc etc.
I have only ever succeeded once with a NY resolution and that was music related. Every month i'd listen to the following;
Something Old: an old artist i liked to listen to but had neglected for the past year.
Something New: a new band i'd never heard of.
Something Borrowed: a record of cover versions.
Something Blue: an artist or record that had the theme of blue to it.
This lasted about 18 months and ended up with me developing a love of old southern blues music, a few new favourite bands and deep regret that i could not play guitar. These three things persist to this day.
So what does this have to do with resolutions and health ?
The reason I think it was successful was due to the following factors;
It was simple and easy to do.
It was something I loved to do.
It was a lot of fun.
These tend to be over looked when we start a health kick whether it be exercise, eating or a combination of both. I think we start with the the right intentions but the wrong goal. The first goal should be establish a rythym to what we do. To do this you need the above three "rules".
So how do I apply these rules to my New years resolutions ?
The biggest mistake I have made in the past is that when I write down a training program or diet for myself I make it too complicated. This comes from a place of trying to cover every angle and leave no stone unturned to achieve my goal. In reality it leaves a lot of rocks lying on the ground with little desire to move them.
So my training much like my rehab programs and my musical adventures now follow these rules.
Rule 1: K.I.S.S, Keep It Simple Stupid.
If you think you are going to jump into 6 days a week exercise from doing nothing ... STOP.
Half that number and do it for 3 weeks, then add another day. When you do that comfortably add another day until you hit the goal.
You have to work it in around your life and work out where in your life things fit in.
Doing it this way helps you find out where you can comfortably fit a new habit in and helps develop a rythym or routine to your exercise program. Once that is established its easy to add or subtract sessions.
This technique also helps create momentum.
Momentum is when you really want to do an extra class, go for another run, try a new type of exercise or eat less kit kats (nope that kit kat thing is me , never happened to this day ).
Most relevant for those embarking on strength related exercise plans.
When writing out a program everyone puts in a gazillion exercises. That's enthusiasim for you and thats usually the point where the wheels fall off.
For gym or strength related training my tip is choose no more than 5 exercises, may be 4.
Big muscle group exercises done first, then smaller ones, then a core exercise.
Here is a really simple example;
Day 1: Day 2
2 upper body exercises 2 lower body exercises
Press ups squats
Recline row Hip thrust
2 Lower body exercises 2 upper body exercises
single leg squat tricep dip
calf raise bicep curl
1 core exercise 1 core exercise
dead bug plank
5 exercises , nice and simple.
Do stuff you love
" If you love pina coladas short walks in the rain..."
If you like to run make that the main focus of your new plan. That may involve getting fit and strong to run to keep you on the right track. Apps like couch to 5k or 10k are great for those starting out after a long break.
Getting a running assessment to help you address weaknesses and make you more bulletproof to injury is a great idea as well. This will also help with motivation and keep you on the road, or trail.
If you love to lift weights or challenge yourself in the gym then make that the central component of your program.
What ever it is you love to do you have a better chance at sticking with it.
Making pina coladas the focus of your resolution won't cut the mustard in getting your healthy lifestyle
"If s*@t is fun then s*@t gets done"
Make it FUN.
Nothing truer when it comes to exercise in my opinion. This can be as simple as having a training buddy or group to keep you on track.
It can also be the way you put exercises together to make them more challenging. This can also be a huge time saver thus having less impact on your busy day.
Crossfit nailed this principle with their workouts of the day , ( W.O.D), especially the As Many Rounds As Possible or AMRAP work outs.
Other techniques like escalating density are great. This maximum repetition type of challenge done for a time limit, 10 - 20 minutes. You pick 2 exercises, usually ones that train opposing movements. Then you go back and forth doing a maximum of 12 reps per exercise, as time goes on fatigue kicks in and the reps get lower. The goal is to see how many reps you can hit out.
Here's some articles discussing these simple techniques;
Another technique to make it fun is mix up different styles of exercise. This can be different individual sessions or hybrid sessions.
I love sessions that have some high intensity cardio aspect mixed with strength or core work. So much so that we now have a cardio core sessions and HITT sessions at the clinic. Great fun and you don't go home wondering how hard you worked because it was hard work !
So in summary I'd write down what I enjoy doing for exercise, then write out a weekly training plan. Then I'd do half of it for 3 weeks, then I'd add a little bit more till I hit my goal. If it isn't fun throw it in the bin and find something that is.
If you manage this first then look at setting some goals. I'll have a chat about goal setting next time.
Instead of a new years resolution why not make it a revolution ?