New Year, a new you. For some of you that may be the millionth time you’ve heard that and by now it’s no more meaningful than when someone asks “How’s it going?”. For others, 2017 rings with excitement. You have big plans, bigger goals, and hopefully a gameplan. For those with fitness related goals, especially those trying to make lifestyle changes for the umpteenth time, here are 17 tips to make the new you come true in 2017.
1. Write Those Goals Down
I know this seems obvious, but write down everything you want to accomplish in 2017. If there’s a weight-loss goal, I recommend putting that first because burning fat is a faster process than building muscle. If building muscle or setting a new strength PR is part of your 2017 gameplan, aim to begin training for those after you have lost the weight you want to lose.
2. Assign Due Dates
Based off the common understanding that a 500 calorie deficit per day burns 1 pound of bodyfat per week, and average protein synthesis rates allot 1-2 pounds of muscle development per month, set a timeline for yourself to accomplish your different fitness goals. Performance goals may be more difficult to establish deadlines for, but schedule regular progress checks to make sure progress is being made every week to two weeks.
3. Create a Schedule
Adaptation has to be stimulated, so what are you going to do to make sure those pounds fall off or your flexibility improve? The work involved is going to have to be done, so you are going to need to find the time to put in the effort. Look at a calendar of a week and figure out which days and what time on those days you know you have 20, 30, or maybe even 90 minutes to devote to your body. Make sure you devote enough time each workout and each week to actually stimulate the change you’re looking for.
4. Find an Accountability Buddy
There is strength in numbers. Having someone regularly asking about your progress, or better yet doing it with you makes you infinitely more accountable. No one likes being a failure, so confide in someone who you know wants you to be successful just as much as you do. Tell this person what you want to accomplish, create a system of frequent check-points to ensure you stay on track, and if necessary establish penalties in the event you falter (e.g. you pay $5, $20, or $50 every slip-up). Whatever it takes. Chances are if you chose the right person to hold you accountable, they will know what stakes are most likely to make sure you succeed.
5. Reward Yourself
Fitness goals are hard work, and noticeable results can take weeks to see, making it feel like you’re getting nothing in return for all your hard work. Trust the process. If results came overnight the world would have far more olympians and way fewer doctors. Reward yourself on a healthy basis to give you the psychological and physiological compensation for all the hard work and deprivation you are putting your body through. If it’s a meal or two a week, a day off from the gym, or maybe a new outfit or gadget, try to carefully but systematically treat yourself each week or two to stay motivated and encouraged throughout the process.
6. Expect the Unexpected
Something will not go according to plan. Plan on it. You will get sick, injured, caught up at work, or thrown off course in one way, shape or form. This happens to EVERYONE. It’s no excuse to give up or even get discouraged. Make the most of the situation by continuing healthy habits and making every decision count as progress towards your goal!
7. Try New Things
Have you never tried free weights? Never done yoga? Joined a group exercise class? Take this time to try something new! Maybe the reason you’re not already where you want to be is you haven’t found the right vessel to get you there. Finding something new you love can make you even more excited to work and make it much easier to keep things feeling fresh and fun.
8. Consult a Trainer
Even if you know there’s no way you would be able to work with a trainer, ask one if they they have a minute and tell them what you’re working towards and if they have any advice. As long as they’re not in the middle of a session with a client they should be more than happy to share their knowledge with you. Chances are, if they’re really good, they’ll tell you so many things you didn’t know that you will end up trying to figure out how to make them your trainer. Trainers should always be able to give you new ideas, helpful tips and extra encouragement, so if you don’t get that from the first one you talk to, ask another until you see what I’m talking about.
9. Don’t Get Stale
While results take time, the body is extremely good at adapting to what we expose it to. For this reason, it’s important to change your workouts every 6-8 weeks. Doing so will make sure the adaptation process doesn’t slow down, giving you the most results in the least amount of time.
10. Take Nutrition Seriously. I’m Serious.
Your body can’t magically manufacture the nutrients it needs to operate. It relies on what you put in it. The more nutrients you put in it, the more you will get out of it. And no, nutrient dense food does not come out of a drive-through window. Feed your body real food. Colorful fruits and vegetables, meats in their most natural form, and lots of water.
11. Minimize Risks of Injuries
There’s always a risk of injury, but if it’s been months since you did so much as jog, don’t try to start running 3 miles a day right off the bat. If you don’t know where you should start, or how to safely progress yourself, talk to a fitness professional. Reputable fitness centers should have personal trainers certified in their field of expertise who will happily advise you on where to start and how to progress safely and effectively. Avoiding injuries will prevent weeks or even months of setbacks, not to mention help you avoid serious discouragement for continuing working towards your goals.
12. Identify Your Vulnerabilities
You know better than anyone what the biggest temptations are going to be to lure you away from your fitness goals. List these out so you know what to beware of in the coming days, weeks and months. Planning ahead to avoid these temptations will make it easier when the times arise to say no, whereas being caught off-guard makes it much harder to stay strong.
13. Succeed Socially
While it’s true that you can workout without telling Facebook, sharing your journey with your social media followers will give you some extra accountability and support. Not sure what to share? I recommend an initial post of what you are going to achieve, followed up with at least one workout update a week so friends know you’re sticking to it, as well as progress updates bi-weekly if not weekly. Be sure to include pictures!
14. Educate Yourself
Trying to lose weight? Read a reputable book about weight-loss and management. Trying to increase strength? Learn some new training techniques for increasing strength and power. Point is, don’t assume you know everything you need to succeed. There’s always more to learn and you will never know everything (that includes you, Grandma).
15. Beware of Compliments
If you’re putting in the effort, people are going to notice. You should feel proud when they do, but if you aren’t done yet, don’t let the compliments make you think you’ve done enough. Let the positive feedback fuel you to continue transforming, not to lead you to think you already have.
16. Surround Yourself with Success
There’s a saying, “Show me your 5 closest friends and I’ll show you your future.” I don’t know where it came from, but it holds a lot of truth. If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably shouldn’t spend the majority of your time around people who are overweight. If you are trying to build muscle, you should probably spend less time with your scrawny friends. It’s not that you can’t be friends with these people, or continue seeing them, but for the time being they’re probably not going to be the best influence on you. Opting to spend time around those with the habits and knowledge of how to accomplish a goal you’re striving for will undoubtedly give you the motivation, assistance and education needed to get there.
17. Conquer. Conquer Again.
You did it. You accomplished your goal! Now what? You now know the difference between putting the work into your body and not, and you don’t want to undo everything you just did right? It’s time to build on what you’ve just accomplished. Find a new performance or aesthetic goal for yourself and conquer once again! Staying healthy and active will help maintain the progress you have made, so focus on something new and give it all you’ve got!