The New Year is a time for fresh beginnings – a clean slate. It’s also the time when people make a long list of New Year’s resolutions, including fitness goals, many of which fall by the wayside before Valentine’s Day arrives. There’s an air of excitement when goals are fresh, but then the hard work sets in. That’s when excitement is replaced by feelings of frustration. Getting in shape is hard work! As the novelty fades, the time between workouts increases and, ultimately, those well-intentioned fitness goals die a slow, gradual death. Of course, they’ll be revived the next year and the pattern repeated.
If you already exercise regularly, then this isn’t your fate. You show up every day for your workout and put in the time and work necessary to stay fit. But, even if you are a habitual exerciser, the New Year is a good time to reevaluate your goals. What are your objectives for the upcoming year and will your workout and lifestyle habits help you achieve them? What gains have you made over the past year? In terms of weight and body fat, what have you lost? In some cases, the New Year is a time to set new goals. But if you didn’t achieve what you aimed for the previous year, it’s time to hold yourself more accountable in 2017.
As mentioned, it’s easy to “slack off” as the novelty of working out fades. You show up but you only go through the motions and your progress has flatlined. For example, how much more weight are you curling or squatting now compared to this time last year? Progression is the key to gaining strength and muscle size. That means applying the principles of progressive overload, forcing your muscles to work harder than they’re accustomed to. The most common ways are to increase the resistance you’re using or adding more reps. However, you can also:
· Increase the frequency with which you do exercises
· Change the tempo of a rep
· Reduce the rest time between sets
· Increase the number of sets
· Increase the range of motion of an exercise
· Improve the form you use on a particular exercise
· Use more advanced techniques such as negatives, forced reps, drop sets, etc.
If you’re not doing at least some of these things, you’re stagnant – and stagnancy doesn’t build strength.
Are You In Better Aerobic Condition Than You Were Last Year?
Strength is one issue but being more aerobically fit gives you greater stamina. Non-techy ways to measure your aerobic fitness include:
· The time it takes for you to walk one mile
· How quickly your pulse drops after a workout. A faster drop means better fitness
· How many push-ups you can do in a minute. (muscle endurance)
You can find reference values for these tests online, but the goal is to improve over time. Hopefully, you keep a record of your workouts so you can refer back and see what progress you’ve made. If you don’t, why not start in the upcoming year? Documenting and analyzing the results ensures that you’re moving toward your goals. Not only that but seeing that fitness journal lying around is a subtle reminder that you need to stick with it!
Fitness Goals: Are You Too Slack with Nutrition?
If you ARE pushing yourself when you work out and you’re still not seeing results, nutrition may be the culprit. You’ve heard the trite phrases about muscles and abs being built in the kitchen – and it’s true. Without good nutrition, you’ll struggle to make fitness gains, especially if you’re trying to build muscles strength or definition. Are you grabbing too many convenience foods because you’re strapped for time? Are you snacking whenever you feel like it? How about your macros? You need enough protein in your diet to build new muscle tissue and tame your appetite.
As with exercise, you won’t necessarily know if you’re over or undereating unless you track your diet for a few weeks. That means writing down what you eat, especially if you’re trying to lose body fat. A study showed that people who kept a food journal 6 days of the week lost TWICE as much weight as those who didn’t. Simply knowing that you’re writing down what you eat can be enough to deter unplanned snacking.
When you keep a food journal, it also creates greater awareness of when you’re eating mindlessly. Record the food that you ate, how much, how hungry you were when you ate it, and the time of day. Doing this creates greater accountability. Chances are you were more aware when you first started exercising, but, over time, you got a bit slacker. Now it’s time to get back in touch with your eating habits. The only way this system works is if you include EVERYTHING you munch on right down to the handful of chocolate-covered peanuts at the office. You’d be surprised at how those small things add up.
Fitness Goals: Do You Need More Variety?
Finally, make sure you’re not in a workout slump. If you’ve been doing the same thing for a while, it might be time for a change. Try a new exercise rotation or DVD. Do more circuit training and tackle HIIT routines where the exercises are constantly changing. Don’t let boredom steal your enthusiasm for working out in 2017. Exercise is too important for long-term health. Also, don’t forget that there are multiple components of fitness: strength, aerobic balance, flexibility, agility, and core work. By varying your exercise routine, you’ll get a more balanced workout. Are you avoiding certain exercises? Those may be weak areas that you need to work harder on. Make sure your workout is balanced too.
The Bottom Line
Make the upcoming year the one where each workout counts and you hold yourself accountable by keeping a fitness journal and a food journal, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Get recharged and ready to give 2017 your best effort! It’s a clean slate and the potential is there for you to accomplish everything you’ve chosen to do concerning your fitness goals.
Active.com. “5 Reasons Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal?”
WebMD. “Can a Food Diary Help You Lose Weight?”
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