We all saw (and likely predicted) the headlines heralding in the New Year…

“A new you in 2018.”

“How to lose 5 kg in January.”

“How to get that bikini bod fast!”

And it probably had the desired effect in helping many of us form yet another year of well-intentioned, healthy New Year’s resolutions.

“I’m going to lose 20kg.”

“I’m going to run a marathon.”

“I’m going to walk EVERY day.”

Yep. We all want to recharge our goals and our priorities, and focussing on our health seems like the obvious area to target first. Plus, some of us have likely over-indulged in gingerbread and Christmas pudding. So when we see articles informing us on how many stair runs it takes to burn off a piece of pavlova, we not only read, we read and make resolutions.

The reason why we tend to focus on health when forming our resolutions is clear. The mental and physical benefits of becoming a healthier you, will make you a more energetic family member, a more productive worker, and hell, generally a happier person.

But how many of us have made our pledges on 1 January, and 10 days later are beating ourselves up over missing three days in a row? What’s the key to sticking to our resolutions?

The answer lies in one of my favourite childhood movies, Mary Poppins.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and ‘snap’, the job’s a game.”

Mary Poppins image

When something that might be considered a chore, or hard work, becomes fun, we are much more likely to stick to it long-term. Because you enjoy doing it, you end up doing it more regularly and forming a habit – a good habit!

Now this is all very well in theory, but if you’ve pledged to be running a marathon by July and you currently run out of puff just thinking about it, how the hell do you make running in 40°C heat fun?

Don’t sweat it, we’ve got you covered.

Here are Run & Rule’s tips for injecting some fun into your exercise routines.

  • Don’t go it alone. Take a mate, or your dog, or your Mum and have a chat while you work out. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  • Mix it up. Sick of running the same path every second day? Try venturing into new territory. Or sprinting in between power poles. Or doing a park work out mid-run.
  • Do what you’re comfortable doing and don’t be pressured into doing something you really don’t like. There’s nothing worse than being told “running is the best way to lose weight” when the idea of doing anything more than a shuffle fills you with dread. Stick to walking, but try upping the ante and going a bit faster, or add some hills or hand weights to your stride.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable time. Actually, go to bed at 10:39pm. According to this study, 10:39pm is the optimum time to go to sleep, and it recommends ‘switching off’ from technology 37 minutes beforehand.
  • Take some time out each day to meditate. De-stress, improve your concentration, and realign your focus and your energy back onto what matters.
  • Don’t forget to include strength days in your workouts. Yes, Run & Rule is all about walking, running or cycling, but it’s important not to neglect the muscles that make all that cardio possible. Take some time every week to stretch and maintain your muscle. Your Rule will thank you.
  • And don’t feel guilty for having a rest day each week. When you slog it out for six days you are entitled to it! In fact, many health experts recommend you take a recovery day when beginning a new exercise regime.
  • While it doesn’t sound like much fun, planning is crucial to sticking to your resolutions. Not just the week ahead, but what you want to achieve each day. And make exercise a focal part of the plan.
  • Be realistic about your goals. If you’ve never run more than 50m in your life, don’t set your sights on running 10kms in a month. Stage out your goals and stick to a steady approach. And don’t forget to incorporate some of the above. After all, exercise should be about looking after and appreciating your body, not punishing it.
  • If you want some more quirky tips to starting 2018 on the right foot, check out this article by body+soul.

 

All these ideas for sticking to your New Year’s resolution of course help to reinforce gradual change, as opposed to ‘crash diets’ and fads.

Dr Jocelyn Sheen-Apostol from St Luke’s Medical Centre sees patients every year just after the festive season with diet and exercise related medical concerns.

“Losing weight should be a lifetime habit,” Dr Apostol said.
“You can diet but if it’s not long term, you’ll lose it and gain it again and you’ll never get to a point [of reaching your ideal weight],” she told The Express.

So, what have we learnt? If you’re going to make your New Year’s resolutions stick, make them realistic, and make them fun.