As we approach the end of 2016 and the promise of a new year is drawing closer, many of us will start the introspective analysis of where we ‘failed’ last year and how our self-critical school report can improve from ‘Must try harder!’   As someone who has been involved in fitness personally for many years and more recently professionally, it often feels like all of the well-intentioned plans seem to have evaporated before the calendar has even changed to double digits in January!  How then is it best to address this, so that when the end of 2017 rolls around, it doesn’t seem like the ‘same old, same old…..’  With this in mind here are seven tips to help you achieve your fitness goals in 2017.

Realistic Goals

My number one tip is to set realistic goals. This may seem obvious, but I speak to many people who believe that they are going to change from ‘couch potato’ who hasn’t exercised for 5 years, into someone who trains for 2 hours a day, 7-days a week.  Now, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but this can be worked towards in stages…. if you currently don’t do any fitness at all then a good goal would be taking a 30 minute walk, twice a week. Remember some exercise is better than NO exercise.

Time Management

A schedule, whether it is based on work or family commitments changes, this is a fact of life.  However, allocating realistic allotted time slots is key to fitting in fitness.   Consider if you are a ‘morning’ or an ‘evening’ person, and book in those time periods when you know 95% of the time they won’t be affected.  Ultimately, even the busiest people can find a 30 minute or 45 minute time slot once or twice a week.

Don’t lose heart

If the above time management advice seems harsh, it isn’t meant to be! Being organised helps to maximise the time available to you.   This is not all about the ‘stick’, so don’t lose heart if you miss one of your fitness sessions, tomorrow is another day so you can re-start where you previously left off.  Trying to catch up on yesterday’s sessions is often counter-productive and can lead to you feeling like you are always trying to claw back lost time.  Re-set the clock and move on.

Boost your endorphins

In our house when we might be getting ‘tetchy’ with each other – I regularly say – “Go and sort out your dolphins!!” (endorphins).  During exercise we produce endorphins and serotonin (happy hormones) which improve energy levels and our mood.  As an ex-corporate employee, my demeanour when I got home from a long day was often not one that was conducive to building a healthy conversation with my wife!  Whilst exercise doesn’t solve all problems, it without doubt has a direct influence on how we ‘feel about the world’ and shouldn’t be pushed to the back burner.

Regular Progress Report

I’m a fitness ‘statto’ and love analysing my heart rate, power, speed, distance, etc…I can’t get enough of checking my progress! Now, this isn’t vital in helping you to manage your fitness life, but little check points along the way can be really motivating.   This can be at the simplest or most basic level i.e. I walked 10 minutes yesterday without stopping, but today I walked 12 minutes without stopping!  Even if you are someone who sees themselves as non-competitive or not goal driven, we all still like to feel we are improving.

Find exercise you enjoy (or can tolerate!)

If you hate running or can’t swim, then setting yourself a target to run a marathon or swim the channel is probably not something you will engage in readily!  Having some enjoyment from a fitness pastime is vital, consider options outside of traditional activities if you aren’t a fan.  Clubs are available for anything from Martial Arts to Table Tennis or Walking football!  Have a look around and try something out of the ordinary and see if this motivates you to exercise.

Don’t Train Alone

For the Rocky fans amongst you, you might remember the Clubber Laing line ‘I live alone, I train alone’….. Maybe for the super-focused of us this is a realistic option, but for many the communal feeling of belonging to a like-minded group of people helps.  Sometimes a ‘knowing look’ as you pick you face out of the dirt to mumble ‘I hate burpees’ to the person next to you offers the solidarity needed to keep going.   Even if the exercise is in a less structured format, ask a neighbour or a sibling to come and exercise with you, this goes a long way.

2017 is a new year, so don’t worry about the task seeming too daunting or the fear of failing to stick to those well-meaning new-year’s resolutions – remember these seven tips and it will help you to fit in fitness.