New Years Resolution Goals
By: Jason Gallant, Registered Physiotherapist
Every year around this time, after over indulging during the holidays, we make New Years resolutions to get back into shape. We say things like “I need to get back in the gym” or “I need to go on a diet.” We say this with the best of intentions, but most of us fall off the wagon within a month or two, and those well-intentioned resolutions are long forgotten. We go too hard at the gym and get injured or burn out. We stop our crash diet because we’re hungry or out of energy. Here are a few tips to help you keep those resolutions all year long and keep you safe in the process.
Be specific with your goals: don’t say “I need to lose weight” or “I need to go to the gym”. If your goals are too vague, how will you know if you reach them? Give yourself a specific goal to work towards. Say “I will be able to run 5km by March 1st” or “I will avoid any added sugar in my food 6 days a week”.
Be realistic with your goals. That CrossFit class five times a week seems like a great way to get in shape, but if you’ve never done weight training before it can be a recipe for disaster. That marathon in the spring might sound great, but if you’ve never run more than 5km it might be too much too soon. This is where many people give up on their resolutions: the physical activity is too hard and they get injured or frustrated and stop exercising. The same goes with diet. Many people restrict their calories too much too soon, and can’t sustain their crash diet, so they go back to their regular eating habits.
Start off slow: set smaller goals for yourself. Consult a physiotherapist to make sure it’s safe to start the workout program you want. We can look at your overall strength and mobility, as usually there are some deficits that need to be addressed before jumping into an intense exercise program. We can start you off with some baseline strengthening and stretching exercises, and gradually progress you to more intense exercise.
As for diet, start with removing something small and work from there. It can be as simple as removing sugar from your coffee or ditching the soda with lunch.
Make yourself accountable. Plan your week in advance and schedule time for exercise instead of “when you have time”. Write down what you want to accomplish for each workout instead of blindly hopping on the first machine available. A physiotherapist can design a safe exercise plan for you that can balance out muscle groups and help you safely reach your exercise goals. Plan your meals in advance. Take time on the weekend to prep healthy meals throughout the week. It will ensure you have healthy food at your fingertips to take for snacks and lunches, and cut down dinner prep time to avoid eating processed or take out meals.
The bottom line is you want to create sustainable change that you can keep up throughout the year. The progress may not be as much as you expect at first, but if you follow these guidelines you’ll be able to stay healthy and injury free while making your resolutions a part of a permanent lifestyle change.