Stick to your New Year’s resolutions beyond January with help and advice from the pros
Words: Peta Bee
It’s a month since you resolved to become a fitter, healthier version of yourself. So how’s it going? By now, it may be that your resolve is beginning to wear a little thin and it’s becoming easier to talk yourself onto the sofa than towards the front door. But don’t give up… there are ways and means to help you stay on track. We’ve consulted leading experts for their top tips on staying motivated to reach your goals this year…
Set a real goal
Researchers looking at the links between motivation and successful long-term health and fitness claim that if dropping a dress size is the only drive you have then it’s far less likely to happen. ‘People are motivated to do things for different reasons,’ says Dr Andrew Manley, a lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University. ‘But there’s plenty of evidence to show that those who take up diets and exercise purely to lose weight, get into an outfit, or reduce the size of their bottom, will find the goals are self-limiting and that they will eventually give up.’ According to Dr Manley, dieters who are fixated with obtaining a celebrity-style body or downsizing their shape are often doomed to failure because, as a motivational force in themselves, these goals aren’t powerful enough. Follow the advice below for how to get it right…
Do it for you
Don’t be swayed by fitness fads or preferences of friends, says sports psychologist Dearbhla McCullough. ‘Find an exercise regime that you enjoy and stick with it,’ she says. ‘Set goals that are specific, measurable and realistic with distinct time boundaries, not one big goal that can be overwhelming. For example, the goal might be “I want to run a 5km fun run in two months’ time”, but intersperse that with smaller goals en route to your main aim — you will run three times a week to achieve that and will run 2km without stopping by the end of next week.’ Pin your main goal up on a noticeboard or on the fridge where everyone can see it. ‘Detail all of your exercise in a diary so that, on tougher days, you can look back and see how far you have come,’ says Dearbhla.
Add some tunes
When Professor Andy Lane, a sports psychologist from the University of Wolverhampton, looked into the effects of music, he found it helped to regulate positive and negative emotions in exercisers. And extensive research by Dr Costas Karageorghis, a sport psychologist at Brunel University, has shown performance benefits of up to 15 per cent in some people. ‘As well as enhancing performance, music lowers the perception of effort’, says Dr Karageorghis. ‘It dulls or masks some of the pain associated with training. We know from scanning the brain that when athletes are played loud upbeat music there is an increase in activity in the ascending reticular activating system.’
Putting things off is one of the most common reasons for fitness goals falling by the wayside, says sports psychologist Dr Josephine Perry ‘Many people make the mistake of procrastinating about whether they should go to the gym or for a run, or they faff around with kit and trainers so much that they talk themselves out of doing anything. It’s best to try get out of the door and do something without overthinking it.’
Fitness resolution facts
- A whopping 68 per cent of people would be happy if they only maintained their fitness resolution throughout January.
- Just 44 per cent of those surveyed have ever successfully completed a fitness resolution for a full year.
- Laziness was the most common reason given for people giving up on their fitness resolution.
Peta Bee is working with everyday healthcare company Simplyhealth to encourage people to stay motivated with their exercise and fitness related resolutions. For inspiration and ways to get fit, visit millionsmoving.co.uk.