Now the kids are back in school, it’s time for you to think about your relationship with exercise and what it can do for you, both physically, and mentally. A study carried out by Pinterest showed that 55 percent of Brits felt that September was the perfect time to make some new resolutions, so, in the same way that starting the first line on a new notepad feels like a fresh start to the year, taking time to look at your current fitness routine can help you focus your goals better. To find out how we can make resolutions that we can stick to, we talked to PT Gede Foster, a dancer, advanced Pilates instructor and head of fitness at Fiit (fiit.tv), about how you can go about refreshing your goals.
Step 1: Schedule in a body and mind MOT
While it can be tempting to throw yourself into a fitness routine that ‘starts Monday’, stay in the present and think about where you are currently, rather than setting big goals with tough time constraints. “September is a fantastic time for selfreflection, but be realistic with your goals before you start setting them,” says Gede. “Have a good think about where you are at this moment in time, not just with your fitness level, but your total wellbeing as a whole. Your nutrition, stress levels, activity level, the amount of sleep you get, and how you spend your time. This is key to setting realistic goals.” Before you throw yourself into a new fitness routine, carry out a full-body MOT and write it down. It may take two weeks or a month to record everything, but this first step is vital. “Assess your current habits. There’s plenty of wearable tech out there these days that monitors steps, sleep quality, exercise and as well as apps where you can input your food intake and track your moods. At this initial stage, you just want to get a better understanding of where you are currently at.”
Step 2: Get goal-setting
Setting a long-term goal can feel like a huge commitment, so think about how you can hit smaller milestones and you’ll find yourself in better stead to achieve the bigger ones. “Break it down, work out what needs to be achieved each month to reach the end goal, then, what needs to be achieved each week to reach the monthly goal,” says Gede. “For example, if you want to be more productive or have more energy, optimising your sleep is key, so a daily action might be going to bed an hour earlier. The first third of your sleep cycle is the most restorative phase, and in these early hours, you repair physically and mentally more than any other stage, consolidate memories, and restore the nervous system, which helps to improve your ability to be alert, and your learning ability for the next day – the flip side can be waking up an hour earlier, fitting 30 minutes of exercise in and getting a head start on the day.”
Step 3: Consider time constraints
Making goals is all well and good, but you need to be honest with yourself and not over-commit if your diary is already jampacked. “Think about if you can maintain your new aspirations and turn them into regular habits,” says Gede. “If you’re time-poor but want to get more active, try converting the commute by cycling or running to work. Start by getting off your public transport a few stops earlier and walking the rest of the way, or parking a little further away from the office. If your goals are physical, look at your nutrition, and flip your thinking from restriction to the idea of fuelling your body. Nourishing it with what it needs to meet the physical demands is the best way forward.”
Step 4: Best foot forward
You’ve set some September macro/meso/ micro goals and devised a great plan, but, how do you stay on track? “Lay your gym kit out the night before, put your vitamins insight when you make your morning coffee and carry a large bottle of water with you,” says Gede. “This all encourages you to form positive habits. Conversely, make undesirable habits hard, for example, leave your phone in another room and put daily time restrictions on social media sites. Plan your weekly actions, put your workouts in your diary like you would a meeting, work out with a buddy so you have some accountability and keep each other motivated.”
Step 5: Celebrate every achievement
If we miss a run or a swimming session it’s easy to beat ourselves up for not making enough time for exercise. What comes less natural to us is recognising and celebrating our goals. “With fitness targets, it can feel like it never gets easier, this is where external sources can play a big role for motivation,” says Gede. “With apps like Fiit you can see your stats on screen, save them and see your points increase as you get stronger and fitter. Try group classes; working out with people in a social environment makes everything more fun. Celebrate the wins and acknowledge what you have achieved with discipline and motivation. We work best when we have a goal and focus, so once you’ve hit one, it’s time to set the bar higher!”
Step 6: Embrace the slip-ups
It’s inevitable that some mornings we just don’t get out of bed, but it’s not productive to use phrases such as ‘fell off the wagon’, ‘back on track’. These are negative terms to describe your journey, which will more than often be a bumpy ride, than a catalogue of successes. “Take the pressure off yourself, even if you go to the gym and you decide you just don’t have the energy, you made a commitment to the ‘habit’ you created,” says Gede. “I have an eight-minute rule; most of the time after eight minutes I’ve warmed up and got into the exercise that I set out to do, but on the rare occasion that after eight minutes I still feel exhausted, I know it’s genuine and that it’s more beneficial for me to go home and have a proper rest. You need to always maintain the feeling that exercise is enjoyable.”
4 Tips for the perfect play list
Music can be as essential to your workout as wearing the right trainers, which is why Libratone, has collaborated with Costas Karageorghis, a professor in sport and exercise psychology at Brunel University London, and personal trainer/ fitness enthusiast Zanna van Dijk, to explore how a motivational playlist can enhance physical performance. Ready to turn the music up?
1. Find music with which you have a strong personal association (i.e. with the message, lyrics or genre). This can help elevate the quality of your workout.
2. Put on the most positive, upbeat tune on your playlist and allow it to carry you through the tougher bits. An example would be Happy by Pharrell Williams.
3. Avoid music with long rhythmic lulls (e.g. Rumour Has It by Adele), unless planning to use the lulls to punctuate recovery during your exercise routine.
4. The harder the workout, the faster and more intense your music should be. The highest tempo should be at the point when you are exercising most intensely.