Posted by: trainer on Jan 04, 2011
Make 2011 the year you achieve your wellness goals
Among those of us who work in the health-fitness industry it is no secret that January brings new members out of the woodwork. Here in New England the ranks are swelled by outdoor enthusiasts finally forced indoors as the ice and cold take hold. We also see members who had a good routine going up until Thanksgiving when the crush of the holiday season and the short, dark days wreaked havoc on their discipline. And then there are the true January Joiners—those hopeful souls who have, once again, resolved to become more fit in the new year.
If you are a January Joiner—welcome! As the Taoist proverb says, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” Congratulations on taking the first step towards improving your health and fitness. If you’ve tried to get fit before you may be haunted by the ghost of January past. Don’t let his rattling chains undermine your resolve. Just place one foot after the other and soon you will find yourself walking the wellness path. Here are some tips to guide you on your journey:
Take baby steps. A psychotherapist recently told me that when she recommends an exercise program to her clients, the first step she gives them is to drive to the gym. They don’t even need to go in the door! After a few trips she encourages them to pack a gym bag and have it in the car, just in case they feel like going in. Tiny steps are the building blocks of enormous change. What baby step will you take today?
Don’t do too much, too soon. Looking around the gym in January I can predict with fairly good accuracy who will still be around in March. The woman taking back-to-back cardio classes, five times per week? She’ll be lucky if she lasts three weeks. The middle-aged man grunting through the lifting routine he last practiced in grad school? His back will be aching within in a month. Doing too much too soon leads to injury and burnout. Slow and steady wins the race. Start at a pace that makes your body feel happily aware that it’s moving again, not desperately wishing you would stop.
Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. The path to wellness is a marathon not a sprint. It is a mindful endeavor made up of endless daily choices and actions. A skipped workout need not be a slippery slope; a poor nutrition choice is not carte blanche to choose badly for the rest of the day. Sometimes a donut is just a donut. When you are unable to live up to your best intentions take a deep breath and forgive yourself. Then make a plan for your next first step.
Celebrate your successes. Mastered a new exercise? Made it to the gym three times last week? Slid into your slinkiest dress? Celebrate that success. Whether by placing a gold star in your date book, crowing to your best friend, or buying yourself a small treat, honor your accomplishments. Every little success is a piece of the ultimate goal.
Invest in your health. Many clients report that they are more likely to honor their commitment to exercise if they have paid for the services of a personal trainer or registered for an exercise class. Investing money into an endeavor can make us take it more seriously. A qualified wellness professional can improve your chances of success by establishing appropriate goals, teaching safe and effective exercises, and brainstorming solutions to the inevitable obstacles that will arise.
With a long-term vision, hard work and kindness for yourself, by this time next year you could be one of the gym veterans jostling for an elliptical and extending a kind welcome to the incoming class of January Joiners.
This article first appeared in the Springfield Republican. Reproduction with full attribution encouraged.