So you’re ready to embark on your fitness or weight loss journey? Or you simply want to set some new goals and smash them? The last decade has been one of huge change for me. From being unable to run for a bus, to running marathons and participating in triathlons. It’s not all been plain sailing, there are always bumps in the road, but here are the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way and I hope they help as you begin your journey or start planning your next goals.
You don’t *need* a new year, but at the same time you don’t need someone telling you that! You can start your fitness journey at any stage in the year (I started mine on a random day in July 2010) the most important thing is having the motivation and desire to succeed. That being said, if the thought of a new year and a fresh start motivates you then go for it. I love the idea of a blank page to start any training plan and set new goals, and being surrounded by people doing the same offers a great chance to help you stay focused.
You have to do this for you, you’ll only reach your goals if you have the motivation and desire to succeed inside of you. Before I started on my successful fitness journey I had so many false starts. Times where I vowed to make changes but never followed through, or never believed I could. The power of positive thinking and having a fire in your belly are two big essentials to smashing your goals.
It’s not going to happen overnight. Whatever your fitness related goal is, it won’t happen immediately, or in a week or probably not even in a month. Change requires time and consistency, so don’t be disheartened, and remember that every day gives you an opportunity to practice the habits that will get you a step closer to your goal.
Make flexible goals not strict resolutions. Resolutions stem from a desire to resolve to change something without any plan of how you’re going to do that, and set you up to fail as they aren’t measurable or adjustable. Instead, set SMART goals, i.e. ones that are:
(they really lucked out that that spells SMART haha!) Then break these down into smaller, less overwhelming chunks. Give yourself targets along the way to act as progression checkpoints and celebrate the small wins because it all adds up. Remember measurable goals and targets don’t need to be numerical- it can be a measurement based on how you feel too! Often the journey teaches you more than achieving your goal does!
Be prepared to be flexible! Remember that saying ‘be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods’. Yes, exactly that! If you start missing your interim targets, or you’re not enjoying the process, then the chances are your bigger goal may need some more time or might not be the right option for you at that exact moment. Time to get flexible with your methods! Re-assess and where needed re-plan- don’t go chasing something that is slipping further and further from your grasp (and you’ll know this if you’re not hitting your planned milestones) or just isn’t working, as that isn’t good for your motivation or physical/mental health. Re-planning a goal or switching methods isn’t a failure, it is just a chance to acknowledge that the challenge is a big one, needs some more time or just isn’t the right goal right now.
Go all in but don’t go all in at the same time. I promise that makes sense! You want to go all in in the sense of picking a goal that (slightly) scares you, but is within reach by breaking it into smaller easily obtainable mini goals. As soon as you start breaking big goals down into smaller goals, you’ll be surprised at what suddenly feels achievable. Commit and follow through on what you’re aiming to do but be realistic with regards to what fits with your life and what you can offer. If you go all in in an unsustainable way you’ll burn out in the first month, your motivational will plummet, you’ll feel disheartened and you’ll completely veer off in a different direction. Feeling constantly restricted, burnt out, tired, missing targets and willing for it to be over are all signs of over commitment. It’s important to balance goals with your life and strive for what will make you happy, not overdo things in a short period of time, completely fall off the band wagon and undo all the work you’ve done. Similarly, if you have a fitness goal remember resting is part of the process.
Using the motivation of others can help keep you motivated. Join a running club, a strava challenge, go to parkrun, join a Facebook forum, go to group classes, or simply talk to your friends/family. You don’t have to do this alone. However it’s important not to compare yourself to the people around you. Your journey is not their journey, your challenges are unique to you and even if you have the same goals your backgrounds may be completely different. Stick to your goals and your mini targets. Similarly if the network you’re a part of isn’t making you feel good, find a new one!
Progress is more than numbers, whether that’s the scales, race times or distances. Yes numbers do have a place in measuring progress, but don’t forget all the non-numerical victories, e.g. trying something new, feeling excited to do a session you used to dread or just feeling really empowered. Be your own cheerleader and celebrate every little win along the way.
When you feel unmotivated or disheartened remember why you started and where you’re going and use your smaller targets to help you along. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to feel like progress is slow. Keep your head up, trust the process and keep striving for those goals.
And most importantly ENJOY
Good Luck xxx