You’ve bought the kit and sorted out some free time for exercising, so what now? What are your goals for the year? My advice for goal setting would be to make one long-term goal/target. This would be your main reason for doing it. Such as to improve your mental health or drop dress sizes. The next goals to set are the ones you are going to reach in the interim, so when your halfway through your program. For example to deadlift a certain weight, run or row at a certain pace - these types of goals keep the motivation fire going and make it a little more interesting then just turning up and ploughing through your sessions every week. Finally your short term goal is the one which will give you the confidence to stay on the path to reach the other two! This can be to do a certain amount of exercise a week or to walk to work instead of catching the bus a number of times in your working week. These goals will again start giving you the confidence to fulfil your long term goals and you will see results quicker then waiting to achieve the main target. As one of my clients always says ‘its a marathon not a sprint!’.
Achieving targets takes time and consistency and also the right training and motivation for you. Your goals need to be made achievable and be realistic, if they’re not then you will undoubtedly fail and become totally demotivated in the program.
On top of the program and your goal there has to be some sort of healthy eating plan started. You cannot eat bad, processed food whilst jumping into a fitness regime that will need you to eat for your energy levels and to help recovery! Both healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand, you may start with a bad diet and exercise but you'll fall at the final hurdle, you will start to lack energy, and fail to see any sort of results so making you question whether all the effort your putting in is actually worth it!
A good balanced diet is essential in helping you achieve your fitness targets. It can also be factored into one of your goals at the start, so you could say that you want to eat 6 vegetables a day for the first 4 weeks, this is a great way of making sure you eat properly at the start. It will also help you make healthy eating become a ‘way of life’ giving you the confidence to believe that you can finish the marathon instead of giving up when it becomes too tough. It will become tough too, believe me! There will be days when your mind and body are trying to talk you into having an unprogrammed day off or a drink in the week. Stay strong and think about the bigger picture, think about how far you have come and how much better you feel inside and out.
I honestly believe that above targets for weight loss - that seem to be people’s biggest goals - improving your mental health should be everyone’s ‘first port of call’. Making yourself feel like you can handle the normal everyday pressure that work or family life can bring is just as important as dropping that dress size - in my honest opinion. Having a release for all those stresses or anxieties can really help towards your ‘end-goals’ and it can also help to make the all-important habit unbreakable. If I don’t exercise for a couple of days I can feel the tension bubbling up inside of me, it needs an outlet and getting a good old sweat-on and moving really helps me. If I didn’t have this way of de-stressing / re-focussing there is no doubt I would find coping in general a much harder task, and be more at risk of my depression returning.
So there you have it, make the goals to kickstart your exercise program first and don’t forget to make them achievable through hard work and consistency, making sure they are challenging enough so you see results. You need to build that habit so it becomes hard to break, if this happens then I think you will reap the benefits of exercise both physically and more importantly mentally!