Setting yourself up for success in 2019!

It’s that time of year again, the hangover from the holidays, when the cruel reality of winter really sets in. It’s also time to wallow in self-pity over our failed dreams and aspirations of the previous year, and to yet again set unrealistic goals of ourselves, only to abandon ship by February 1st. Does this sound like your relationship with January? It’s definitely been mine in the past and is something I see quite often in my practice. Not only in January, but anytime patients are looking to make a change to their lifestyle. Making a Change to your lifestyle is HARD. I thought I would share some tips and tricks that may make this process easier.   If you are perfectly content with your life at the moment and have no intensions to change, then maybe skip this one and tune in again next month J.

 

Disclaimer: The following tips relate to making a change in your physical health and wellness as this is my area of expertise. I do not have the knowledge or experience to share words of wisdom regarding other lifestyle changes.  My best advice to anyone struggling with anything in their life is to ask for help! Family, Friends, Colleagues, Physician, Therapist, Councillor, are just some of the people in your life that you could reach out to for guidance if you are struggling.

 

Tip #1: Everything in moderation, including moderation. 

I read a quote last year (I’m sorry I can’t remember where): “We spend too much time worrying about what we do between Christmas and New Years and not enough time worrying about what we do between New Years and Christmas”- unknown.  This sat with me all year. I used it many times to calm the anxieties of my clients during the weeks leading into Christmas. When they find themselves in the throws of the party season and eating/drinking more than they have all year combined. My advice to each of them was the same: “You have been extremely consistent with your training and diet all year and have seen some very impressive results, so take this next week, live a little, relax, enjoy it guilt free, and then we will get right back into things in the new year.”

 

In my opinion it is impossible, even for the most dedicated high performance athletes, to be dialed in to a strict regimen of diet and exercise 24/7/365.  This is why, as athletes, we have off-seasons and days off built into our yearly plans. This time is just as important as training as it allows us to relax a bit and have the mental fortitude to execute our sessions for the rest of the year.

 

Take Home: When setting yourself goals, be flexible and allow yourself room to live. Give yourself the occasional “cheat” day (or week) and embrace these times knowing that you deserve it.

 

Tip #2: Be brutally honest with yourself!

 

         Sometimes it helps to beat ourselves up when setting our goals rather than after we have set them and failed to reach them.  Often, my clients will make statements like, “My goal is to exercise every day.” The first thing I say is, “Is that realistic? Does it make sense to go from 1-2x/week to 7x/week?” At this point, I usually see the light bulb go off that this was not a realistic expectation and was setting them up to fail. 

         The same goes with time commitment. Everyone is so busy these days and, although fitting in an hour a day of exercise sounds nice, in reality we just won’t make the time. My recommendation is to start with 10-15minutes. Doesn’t sound like much? Google a 10 minute workout and try it at home or come see me and I’ll make you wish you had set the goal for 5 minutes J.

 

Take Home: When looking to incorporate new habits into your lifestyle (in this case exercise), be patient and realistic with yourself. Set yourself up for success: start low and go slow. If you reach your goal, you will be motivated to up your time or frequency.

 

Tip #3: Keep it simple!

 

         On the surface, investing in a brand new treadmill or Bowflex machine or beginning a “30 day sculpt challenge” may seem like just what you need to motivate you to start exercising. Really, you are just buying a very expensive drying rack for your clothes or signing up for something far too complex for your needs.

  Buying equipment creates one extra barrier to beginning an exercise program (you have the funds to buy it, somewhere to put it, and the motivation to use it) and, in my experience, does not provide a sustainable option.

        

Take Home: Starting an exercise program doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Start with going out for a walk, doing some yoga at home, or using cans of soup, bottles of wine, or milk jugs as weights while you watch the evening news.

 

 

If you got bored after the first paragraph read this:

 

SET YOURSELF UP FOR WINS.

 

Everyone loves winning, so make it happen! When setting your goals, allow for flexibility and be patient with yourself.  Be realistic with your time commitments: think about your life now, and where you can fit your new goal in. Don’t go crazy with equipment or subscriptions: look around you and use what you already have!  Set goals that set you up for a win, then once you have won, set new ones!

 

For those of you still reading, I hope that you have found this helpful in setting and keeping your New Years Resolutions (or goals you set at any time of year).  If you have any questions about trying to get more active, talk to your Doctor, Physiotherapist, Kinesiologist, or Personal Trainer. All of these people can help you with goal setting and making positive lifestyle changes.  I would love to hear from you if you have found this information useful, or even if you haven’t J.  Feel free to send any questions or comments to jamescooktriathlon@gmail.com