5 Tips for Achieving Your New Year's Resolutions
2018 is upon us! With the new year comes the traditional resolutions; a chance to set some goals, priorities and self-improvement tasks for the next 12 months. Quite often, these goals revolve around health and fitness; losing a few kgs, taking up a new sport/activity or making your gluteus maximus insta-famous. But come February and March we inevitably begin to see these well intentioned resolutioners appearing with various injuries, aches and pains. Here are 5 quick tips to help you accomplish your resolutions while staying injury free.
1. Pick a Realistic Goal
This might seem obvious but the easiest way to obtain an injury is by jumping into an activity that you have no business attempting. If the most running you did in 2017 was a few excited laps of your living room when you heard Beyonce was having twins, signing up for a February marathon probably isn’t a great idea. Sure, a marathon can be a great long term goal but you need to work your way up to that level. Start by training for a 5km run, then a 10km and eventually tackle that marathon when your body is equipped to handle it.
2. Progress Gradually
Some of the most common injuries are overuse injuries. These aren’t the instantly painful sprains and strains but the little aches and pains that continue to get worse and worse time. These are most common in repetitive tasks and often named after the activities they’re associated with like runner’s knee and swimmer’s shoulder. While anyone is susceptible to an overuse injury, those starting a new activity are more likely to become victims. Luckily, in many cases these can be easily avoided by gradually increasing your activity levels. A good rule of thumb is to progress your weekly training by no more than 10%. If you’ve decided to take up swimming and complete a total of 5km in your first week, don’t be a hero and go for 10km the next week. Your maximum distance should be 5.5km. This may seem small at first it will add up faster than you think. By week 10 you will be doing substantially more than you started with and more importantly, you’ll have given your body a chance to adapt to the new demands you’re placing upon it.
3. Seek Professional Help
Nothing derails a resolution faster than a broken bone, torn muscle or ruptured ligament and nowhere is this process of natural selection more apparent than your gym in January. For avid gym-goers, you’ll be familiar with the sight of “New Years noobs” in the weight room performing exercises that seem designed to create maximal bodily harm. While it’s fantastic that people are becoming more active and trying to better themselves, it’s important to remember that some activities do carry a degree of risk. An injury in the name of self improvement is still an injury and will stall your positive progress.
Correct use of equipment, proper exercise technique, and effectively designed fitness programs aren’t common knowledge for most people. Luckily, there are coaches and trainers who have dedicated their lives to their chosen field who can safely and effectively guide you through your fitness journey. Not only will you reduce your risk of injury, but you’ll increase your accountability and see better results than you would achieve on your own. Find yourself a qualified profession to assist you in reaching your goals!
4. Avoid Quick Fixes and Shortcuts
It’s 2018! Everything we do is becoming easier and more efficient. There is certainly no shortage of diets, workouts, pills, and equipment promising unbelievable results in minimal time spans. However, in this age of overwhelming access to information, it’s important to be critical of advice from unsubstantiated sources. “Betty’s Butt Burning Booty Builder 5-Minute Workout” might have gained her 2 million followers but I suspect that a 17 year old “social influencer” didn’t rely on her strong knowledge of muscular hypertrophy physiology to create that program. Without her #blessed genetics, you’re unlikely to get the same results and will likely end up frustrated and discouraged.
If you are able to find a reliable source, remember that changes to our body take time and above all, consistency! Even if you are able to achieve rippling abs or lose 10kg in 6 weeks consider what happens after that? Do your consider your resolution accomplished and go back to whatever you were doing in 2017? I guarantee those abs will disappear and that 10kg will find its way back. If you can’t commit to that same program/diet for the next 6 months, year, or rest of your life, the changes it brings won’t stick around either. The key is sustainability! Small changes that become habitual and long term will always trump drastic overhauls that only survive a few weeks. While the results may seem slower, they are much more likely to be consistent and permanent!
5. Fit Your Plan to Your Life, Not Your Life to Your Plan
Whatever your goal may be, your plan to achieve that goal should fit into your current lifestyle. Maybe you’d like to look like Thor, but if you’re not being paid to be jacked for a living and don’t have the resources of a Hollywood movie star, attempting to follow Chris Hemsworth’s multi hour workout plan might not be right for you. Consider your current family, work, and social commitments. Look at ways your can reasonably pursue your goals within your current lifestyle rather than prioritising your goal and trying to organize the rest of your life around it. Working out for 2 hours everyday might be an ideal way to lose weight, but just isn’t realistic for most people. If you can only realistically commit 2 hours of your week to exercise, ask yourself how you can maximise the benefits of those 2 hours. Also look at other aspects of your life such as sedentary behaviours and dietary factors that can be easily change to help achieve your goal.
Give these resolution tips a try and best of luck with your goals for 2018!
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