It’s that time of year again – vowing to keep our New Year’s resolutions. Whether we make them or not, there’s no denying that January is a good time to focus on our health and get our butts in shape. We turned to the experts for 10 helpful tips on starting a realistic fitness routine, and sticking with it.
1. Start with a proper health check and fitness assessment
“It’s always good to know where you stand, especially if you’re 40 or older,” says Caroline Teo, certified personal trainer at Physique 360. “Have an annual check-up to determine your current health situation, and get a professional to assess your current fitness level – that includes body composition, cardio, strength, flexibility and posture – and to advise you if there’s any limitation when doing exercise. This will help to determine any changes you may need to make to your lifestyle, whether it be eating more healthily, improving your cardio fitness or increasing bone density to prevent osteoporosis.”
2. Lay the foundation for 12 months of success
“It’s all too easy to get carried away by the enthusiasm of the season and overreach with your January goals,” says Chris Eichards, general manager of Ultimate Performance Singapore. “Set goals that inspire you; you will be more likely to make the necessary sacrifices if the goal is important to you. However, be realistic about the time it will take to achieve your goals. You won’t achieve any worthwhile goal in just four weeks, but you can use that time to set yourself up for future success. Twelve months of consistency trumps one month of intensity.”
3. Write down your goals
“Set realistic but challenging goals, whether they be exercise- or nutrition-related, or both. You should write them down and refer to them on a weekly basis to stay focused, motivated and on track,” advises MEL, owner and head trainer at Bloom’n Fit, F45 Novena and F45 Holland Village.
4. Commit to one thing and do it well
“When you consider the various alternatives available for you to meet your fitness goals – Piloxing, Zumba, yoga and CrossCore, for instance – it’s tempting to enrol in many different classes,” says Priyanka Dhaul, senior personal trainer at BeachFit. “But I’d recommend committing to just one for the first quarter of the year. To start enjoying a particular class – and to see any real result – it’s important for you to get good at it. This eventually leads to long-term habits, which bring about those awesome results.” She adds that it’s important to be patient and focused. “If you find yourself not enjoying an activity, try something different – after all, life’s too short to be miserable! Find what creates an appetite for being better at something.”
5. Find your tribe (or tribes!)
Mel recommends finding like-minded people and trainers to work out with. “If you enjoy spending time with the people that you train with, then you’ll be more motivated to meet up with them and make it a habit,” she says.
6. Create a support network
“Once you know what you’re chasing, it’s useful to have the right support network at home, at work and in your social circle to help you reach your goal,” says Priyanka. However, that’s where most of us falter. The solution?
“The first step is to communicate clearly what you need and get a buy-in from the stakeholders. At work, this could be your team members, peers or seniors – for example, informing them that you won’t be available for meetings or client visits between certain times or on a particular day. It’s extremely important to make your health your priority, and soon everyone around you will understand, respect and eventually admire you,” she says.
“At home, you need to do the same with your husband, kids and domestic help, so that the home chores are taken care of and there are no surprises. Do the same with your friends, so that they become your allies and not the ones who sabotage your efforts. Apart from the fact that this creates the right ecosystem for your goals, it builds a sense of accountability in others who are now also invested in your success.”
7. Reward yourself
“It’s easier to miss a workout when there’s no accountability,” says David Seah, personal trainer at Pure Fitness. “Peg your workouts to rewards and treats for yourself. If you miss a workout session, you will have to forgo the reward for that week. This is better enforced with a buddy you trust, or better yet, with your personal trainer, who won’t miss a beat!”
8. Make no excuses
Caroline says there’s no room for excuses, even if you have joint pain, high blood pressure or diabetes. “Would these conditions improve if you just sat there and did nothing? There are various exercises that can make you stronger and improve these conditions,” she says. “Get a professional to help you on your fitness journey.”
9. Adopt a “one percent rule”
“We are all creatures of habit, and tend to fall into a rut after a while. Instead, try to make a one percent change or a one percent improvement in your life every day,” suggests Shane Tan, personal trainer at Pure Fitness. “During your workouts, aim to add in that extra rep, weight and step. “Even in your personal life or at work, try to make small but regular changes. For example, try a different place for lunch, send a text to check in with a friend, or take a detour from your usual route home. These little things break up the monotony and nudge you out of your comfort zone. Who knows, small changes might lead to new opportunities!”
10. Ditch the detoxes for a fad-free start to the year
“Give a wide berth to cleanses and detoxes promising to help you restore balance and lose weight following the holiday excesses,” says Chris Richards. “And, if you want to give your body a fighting chance, then cutting back on alcohol is a good start.” Forsaking solid foods for any period of time in favour of highly processed juices is a terrible idea, he says. “Juice cleanses, by their very definition, are unsustainable. It’s far better to spend January laying down solid, foundational nutrition habits that will support your training throughout the year.” Chris suggests eating more protein and vegetables, and adding in some healthy fats and carbs depending on your activity level and how lean you already are.
This article appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living. Head to the Shop to get your copy!
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