For many of us - especially the parents, teachers, and professional students among us - September is the true start of a new year. (Forget January!)
It's a time of new beginning, and of return to routine - which makes it an ideal time to establish a new healthy habit. Here are some tips to set you up for success if you plan on setting up a new fitness routine this fall.
know your goals
By now, most of us have heard making goals that are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).
SMART is a good system, but what it really boils down to is this: before you begin, know what you want to achieve, set up timeline to help you get there, and don’t set yourself up for failure.
For example, I might want to achieve 10% body fat in the next six months but, based on my genetics and my body-type, I might as well make my goal to grow 5 inches, because neither of those things are realistic for me.
We suggest you make your fitness goals action-oriented, because those are things you can control. To succeed at an action goal, all you need to do is show up and do the work. Examples include “Exercise three times a week for the next three months,” or “Run a 10K,” or “Complete 10 chin-ups unassisted.” Those are action goals.
Achieving those goals are completely within your control, no matter what your age or genetics.
make yourself accountable
It’s sad to say, but breaking a commitment to ourselves is an easy thing to do. So it is important to take steps to keep yourself accountable.
Find a workout buddy and set up some workout dates. Download an exercise app to help you track your workouts. Hire a Personal Trainer! Bribe yourself with rewards, or threaten yourself with consequences. Make fitness contracts with your friends.
Nobody knows better than you what you need to keep yourself on track, so dig deep and figure out what kind of help you need to keep yourself accountable.
Track your progress
Because getting fit and healthy doesn’t happen overnight, it can be easy to overlook all the progress you’ve made.
You can paint a room in a day, and marvel at your achievement. But getting in shape happens over time, and because of that, you might not notice that you don’t get winded walking up stairs anymore, or that you can carry all those groceries into the house without having to break out the Advils and ice pack afterward.
That’s why it’s important to note where you started (measure yourself, take a picture, note how long you can run, or how heavy a weight you can lift), so that you can return to those stats three months down the road when you're feeling particularly low on motivation.
We set our goals looking to the future, but even more helpful can be looking to the past and seeing how far we have come.
So 'Happy New Year' to you, and good luck getting your new routine started. If you're in Toronto and need help, Nielsen Fitness is always here to help you set your goals, track your progress, and keep you accountable. Click here to book a free, no-pressure consultation.
Poul Nielsen is the owner and operator of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 18 years' experience in the fitness industry and has taught courses in Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!