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Just like that, it’s that time of the year again. Faster than we can even process it, we’re getting ready to close out yet another year and welcome 2023. These past few years haven’t been easy for anyone, but it feels like we might finally be in a place to settle into a comfortable rhythm and routine that’s been hard to find through these unprecedented times.
While it’s often seen as something of a cliche to promise yourself a “new me” is coming — ready to smash all your goals and fulfill every dream you’ve ever hoped to achieve — these intentions do come from a good place. It usually signals a renewed motivation and vitality to take on the coming year after some rest and recuperation.
And with this new wave of motivation often comes a whole new set of fitness goals. “This will finally be the year I really stick to the gym!” we tell ourselves, only to fall off the wagon a couple of weeks into January.
Tips from health coach Erika Schlick for staying healthy
The truth is, however, that finding a new health routine that actually works for us is tough — sticking to it is even tougher. But certified health coach Erika Schlick insists that there are some sure-fire steps to ensure you successfully start a new, effective health routine — and stick to it.
Not a one-size-fits-all approach
“Around Christmas and New Year, there’s an abundance of adverts for new health and fitness programs,” Schlick explains. “But it’s important you don’t rush into starting anything new without some proper research, and ideally a consultation with your doctor, too.”
One of the most common reasons we don’t stick with our health routines, she adds, is that they’re too vague and not tailored to our specific needs. “The first thing you need to do is figure out exactly what you want from your fitness plan. Is it weight loss? Toning up? Strength building? Or do you simply want the endorphins that regular exercise brings?” This, she says, is key to setting realistic and achievable goals — as well as keeping you focused.
Gradual changes will take you further
As tempted as we are to give 100 percent at the beginning of the year, it might actually be setting us up for failure. “If you have never done five days a week at the gym, why would you suddenly be able to sustain that just because it’s a new year?” Schlick asks. “It’s important to ease into your fitness routine with gradual, realistic changes that you can build upon once you get more comfortable.”
It’s the key to tailoring a fitness routine that doesn’t end up being counterproductive. “If your goal is to run a marathon, you don’t start that training by running as far as you possibly can,” Schlick says. Rather, it’s about regular training sessions several times a week before you build up to the big goal. If in doubt, start small.
The same goes for food. “Meal times are some of the greatest joys in our life. Don’t drastically change your diet to the point where you don’t even enjoy what you are eating,” Schlick says. “Make small changes first, like salad instead of fries, a smoothie instead of soda. Soon, it will just become a habit.”
If it’s not fun, it won’t last
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my own health journey, it’s that you have to keep it interesting,” Schlick says. There are so many fitness options out there besides lifting weights and going for 6am runs. “If you dread your workout, it’s very unlikely that it will last,” Schlick adds, insisting that people should seek out something they enjoy, like Zumba or yoga. “There are 100 different routes to take to get to your destination.” Better yet, you can start working out with a friend or join a fitness group to keep each other motivated and accountable. “It might seem hard to believe, but fitness really can become something you look forward to!”
Despite all of our best efforts, working out can be pretty tough. As much as we need to find the internal motivation to make the change, there’s nothing wrong with a small reward or incentive every now and again.
“Fitness accomplishments are hard-earned, and it’s worth recognizing that,” Schlick says. “Maybe you got to every one of your gym classes for a whole month. Maybe you’ve stretched every morning for a whole month, or perhaps stayed away from coffee at work for a record amount of time. These are perfect opportunities to treat yourself to new workout gear, health gadgets, or a beauty treatment.”
There’s no reason the new year can’t signal the arrival of a new you. It’s just about doing it in a way that allows your goals to be truly within grasp for the long term.
Find out more on Erika Schlick’s blog, Trail To Health.