September is here, and have you noticed a new phenomenon? Or perhaps you are already participating in it? What is it you ask? As you are packing your kids (short-lived) whiter than white new p.e. kit, perhaps you have also picked up your less than whiter than white gym kit again? The kit that at best has been used less than usual over summer, or at worst lay dormant whilst kids / sangria / beach book took over (underline as applicable). But now kids are back at school, you are feeling a new spring in your step and you ready to get back to routine?
This year I have noticed more Personal Training clients than usual have set a plan in place to increase their health and fitness now the nights are drawing nearer. The sort of plans being put in place are the ones that usually follow the party season – they just happen to bet 3 months early this year. Whether it aiming for a dry September or October (one client for charity, one for detox) and others choosing to be active every day of the month, or booking events for early next year or just getting back into regular exercise – they are all positive changes, which will reap positive results if stuck to.
When embracing a new health and fitness routine it is important to have a plan. Blind enthusiasm will get you started but unfortunately will not sustain you. Girls cannot live by wishing alone – you need a solid plan behind you, to keep you going as the party season and temptations draw nearer. If you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail.
With Personal Training clients, I always set 3 goals at the start of a training period and readdress them periodically. Together we set a short term goal of 4-6 weeks, this may be as simple as establishing regular exercise. A mid-term goal of 3-4 months – setting this now will have you set for the body you want by the New Year, or perhaps working on a fitness area you would like to improve on. Then a long term goal planned for 6-12 months. This could be your summer holiday, or perhaps an event. All goals can be related or totally different. They must be realistic, so if possible run them by someone who can advise you on this.
It is important like any other goal to make sure what you set is measurable. For example you cannot be vague and say you would like to ‘lose weight’ for your midterm goal – instead perhaps it could be lose 5% body fat which could also have health benefits, as well as altering how you look. Or try and get your waist to less than 80cm, which again is a measure when reducing health risks pf diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as well as being aesthetically pleasing. Hanging on display an item of clothing you are wanting to fit in comfortably and confidently, but that is currently on the tight sides is a motivator for some – just don’t use it as a beating stick to your self-esteem. Side, front and back photos of yourself are also a good reminder of how far you have come.
Even better, if you can move away from having a weight base goal (notice the figure changing goal above is not even based on the weighing scales – as weighing scales are just one measure, and not necessarily the best) and instead go for a fitness goal you are likely to see even better results and gain better fitness along the way. Keeping a fitness diary is great way to help keep track of your changes and help spur you along when you are having a bad day.
Whilst on the subject of a goal being measurable, it is worth pointing on that if you are going to measure something than you need to know your starting point. To get a full picture if you ware wanting to tone or loose fat, then ideally you would take a mix of body tape measurements, and if accessible to your body fat measurements and I would use scales at this point, along with some simple fitness tests. There are plenty of official tests such as the beep test and sit and reach test, but you could make it more specific to your goal. For example if you can currently run 5km, and you want to get below 25 minutes, you need to know what you can currently run it in. When I test my clients I usually do a mix of cardio testing, upper body, lower body and core strength, plus flexibility. The important thing, is the test you do – even if you make it up (which is totally acceptable), is relevant to your end goal.
In addition to the goal being measurable and realistic within a time period, it must also be broken into action steps on how you are going to achieve it. It is not enough to say you are going to loose 5cm off your waist instead you need to plan how you are going to 5cm off your waist. Ie move 10,000 steps a day, reduce processed food and exercise 4 times a week (and in those 4 times do x, y and z).
Take some time each week to assess how things are going, if you are on track, what you need to do if things have strayed a little and if your goal is still realistic. Look out and pre plan dangers such as having a social life (lol) and breaks in routine such as working away, or October half term. Don’t let the first hurdle defeat you, just climb back on and continue where you left off. The one thing you can almost certainly guarantee is that you will fall off the wagon at some point, but what matters is how quick you get back on with it. Accept it and move on and look at what you can do to prevent it happening time and time again. Setting a goal that falls just after Christmas is a fantastic way of keeping you on track over the festive period.
Remember if you have had a break from training for a while, be sensible and if you have any underlying medical conditions or injuries seek medical advice first.
If you are struggling for motivation or need help selecting the best exercise and food plan to reach your goals feel free to get in touch with me.
The changes you start making now, are the changes that will make you feel great in the Christmas period.
And finally let’s hope the new found will power lasts into the New Year!