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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

5 tips for sticking to your new year fitness goal

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is done (bar the recycling) and you’re starting to think about your goals for the new year.

What have you got planned for 2020? Given the sedentary nature of many of our lives incorporating more movement into your new year resolutions is usually a great plan.

Do you have specific fitness goals? These can come in many guises.

An endurance event maybe – do you have your have your 1st marathon booked (someone at Ian Thornley Osteopathy does😉 - more about this in coming posts!), a cycle trek planned or a distance swim to train for? Maybe you want to play more golf and improve your handicap?

Or it might be that you recognise that you need to get into, or back into some kind of activity to improve or maintain your health.

Whatever you have planned I have 5 simple tips to help you get going and stay motivated with your new years resolution. So here goes

1) Make sure you are ready for your chosen activity.

- If you are going to succeed it makes sense to ensure that you are physically able to do so. If you are training for an event it’s going to be much harder to step up training if you are already getting aches and pains. It’s often worth while getting checked out by a health professional such as an osteopath to help you optimise how you function and move. You might reduce the chance of injury in the future.

- If you are new to exercise it is wise to speak to your GP and let them know your plans and to get a health check.

2) Define your goals and make a plan

- You can make your plan as detailed or as general as you want. You might want to plan each activity within a training session or you may just want to plan to go for a walk for example. Either is fine as long as you understand what you are trying to achieve.

- Discussing your plan with your osteopath or a personal trainer can help you identify where you may need specific support to achieve your goals.

- Write your plan down and keep it visible – on the front of the fridge is a great place. With our busy lives it’s all too easy to forget plans that are out of sight and therefore out of mind.

3) Think about what you eat

- Undertaking a new exercise regime needs fuel. Your body is going to need the energy for the activity you are doing as well as the nutrients to heal and grow. If you are trying to gain strength for example your body is going to need food which provides the building blocks for muscle growth. If losing weight is important to you then eating in a way which enables the use of body fat as energy for your workouts will be important.

- In general a varied, healthy diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables will provide the nutritional requirements for most people and think about cutting back on processed food and refined sugars.

If you need a specialised diet, or are not sure what you should be eating for the level of activity you are undertaking, then please speak to your GP or health professional for advice.

4) Get support from a friend

- Do you have a friend with similar goals? Can you arrange to work together to achieve them?

- Working out or walking with a friend can be great fun. You can be there to pick them up when they are just not feeling it – and vice versa and having someone to share the achievements with, who knows just what you’ve been through can be massively rewarding.

- Make sure it’s someone you get along with use your exercise as an opportunity to create a better friendship).

Encourage your friend to make sure they are physically ready as well - your osteopath or their GP can help with this.

- Don't forget to celebrate achievements and milestones together. You deserve it!

5) Be realistic and take it easy

- Take a moment to make sure your plans are realistic. If you’ve been driving the 5 miles to work for the last 10 years, suddenly switching to running there and back every day could be a recipe for disaster, especially if you’ve done little exercise over that time. It would be more realistic to build up to that goal. Maybe get the bus in to work one day a week and walk home initially and build up from there.

- Whatever it is you are planning it can be worthwhile speaking to a healthcare professional (such as an osteopath) to see if the path to your goal is realistic. I would never suggest you change your goal – however it may be possible to change how you get there.

- Unfortunately plans that are unrealistic are very often not followed, and therefore the end goal is not met. I would love you not to be in this group and would rather you get to where you want to be – even if it takes slightly longer or in a different way.

Finally an important piece of advice (not really a tip!) Have fun with it, enjoy the successes and don’t dwell on times when it hasn’t gone to plan.

If you get aches and pains, or an injury please get them looked at and treated early on and give yourself the time to heal. You may miss a couple of sessions but training through injury can be detrimental to the long term goal. If you think you need to keep training - talk to your osteopath. They will be able to give you a reasoned assessment about the risks of doing so and give you the information you need to make a decision about your health.

Have a happy, healthy and successful new year! I look forward to helping you stick to your plans and achieve your goals!

Ian Thornley Osteopathy

Otford - Shoreham Village - Eynsford - Sevenoaks

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