2018 is here! For many, fitness goals will be top of the list. In fact 38% of UK adults will vow to ‘exercise more’, with 33% saying they want to lose weight and 15% wanting to take a more proactive approach to health (according to CommRes).
But while resolutions are a great way to focus on what is important, come February many are broken or forgotten. To avoid falling into that trap in 2018, here are some top tips for making health and fitness based commitments you can stick to.
Making a series of small changes is much more sustainable than one massive, life-altering change – especially if you have family members who aren’t on the journey with you. Get off the bus a stop early, take the stairs not the lift, walk or bike to work and school, order one less takeaway a week or take an exercise class after work. Starting small is especially important if you don’t currently exercise or move much as a family.
It can be tempting to try to change every aspect of your life, or work on every area of your health and fitness at once, but if you set too many goals too soon you won’t be able to commit 100% to each one.
Set actual goals
Goals need to be specific. Without a specific goal to aim for we often get lost along the way. It’s one thing to say, ‘we want to do more things as a family,’ which is vague and easily forgotten, compared to, ‘we want to enter a 5k as a family in March,’ which gives you something very specific to aim and plan for.
Yes, we all want to run ten marathons and look like Gemma Atkinson by next week, but if you set your bar too high you’ll feel what you want is unachievable, making you less likely to work towards it. As a rule you shouldn’t set a goal by more than 5% of your current performance or ability.
If you want the family to be fitter, healthier and spend more time together, then you need to get their buy in. If you make, and enforce, plans on their behalf, you’ll find that they resist what you’re trying to achieve. However, sitting down and planning out what you all want to achieve and how to get there will mean you work together as a team – whether you have common goals or not. It’s always easier to keep going if you have support and it’s always easier to do something if everyone wants to do it!
Make a plan
One of the biggest reasons people fail to keep to their resolutions is that they focus on what they want to achieve, rather than on how they’re going to achieve it. Goals are great, but we also need to plan how we will get there – and think about what we need along the way. For example, if you want to run a 5k you might first need trainers, a dedicated running programme and perhaps need to build up a bit of stamina at your local gym.
Measure and evaluate
Having something to measure against enables us to see our progress and motivate ourselves as we see how far we have come. Instead of saying, ‘I want the family to lose weight,’ you could say, ‘we will each lose half a stone by our family holiday in June.’ Make sure you have a way to track you progress – photos, weight charts and fitness trackers all help. If you’ve met your goals, make more, if you’re struggling, re-adjust so they don’t seem so unachievable that you give up hope.
Make your goals fun
Keeping to resolutions and making life changes is hard, no one denies that. However, you’re more likely to stick to your plans if you make them fun. Want to spend more time together as a family? Why not cycle round the park together, or go swimming at the weekends? Want to get the family healthier? Why not take up a sport together, walk to school or take an exercise class together – this can work especially well for some mother/daughter father/son bonding.
Don’t beat yourself up
Life happens. We can’t always plan for what’s around the corner and health, family and work can take priority over a resolution. If you fail to meet some of your short-term goals, don’t beat yourself up over it – however, it’s a good idea to see why you didn’t meet them and look at ways you can readjust your plan or goals, so you won’t make the same mistake twice.