Every week there seems to be a new diet book, juice detox, not to mention the hipster spinning and ballet-core classes popping up everywhere - all promising we’ll be lean and lithe in no time. When you add in the allure of a celeb’s weight loss and body transformation, the pressure is huge. We fall for the hype and end up starting the kale juice diet on a Monday morning, only to decide to go out for a splurge-y dinner with wine that evening, so the guilt trip continues in a vicious circle.
"When we see or read something in a magazine about a new fitness trend, it rarely has anything to do with our own aspirations let alone goals, often meaning we launch into something we don’t like doing, and can’t keep up," says Grant Powles, Technogym Master Trainer at Technogym. It’s as if we’re trying to live vicariously through someone else’s - usually luxe - lifestyle. Someone who has an organic chef and all the child care in the world. When we do this, we inevitably set ourselves up for failure then look for other solutions, bouncing from one fad to the next and never really addressing our own bodies.
First of all, work out what your aspirations are aside from your goal by asking yourself how you want to feel when you hit the beach, says Powles. "Be honest about what being beach ready means to you now. It’s not necessarily a huge thing, for most of my clients, it’s about feeling more confident, empowered and proud of who they are. It doesn’t have to mean getting into a bikini for everyone but maybe you want to feel comfortable wearing a sarong, or that you don’t want to look breathless playing with the kids on the beach." From there you can work out the fitness goal which will help you get that feeling and plan how you are going to achieve it in the time you have.
How do we fail-proof our goals? "Be specific. 'I want to get into shape' or 'I want to lose weight' are both too vague," says Dr Victor Thompson, Clinical Sports Psychologist. "A better one would be 'I plan lose to 10 pounds in 10 weeks.' It’s exact, so you know whether you make it, plus it gives you the ability to track progress - in this case, losing on average a pound a week." It may help to look back at what has happened in the past to see what has worked for you and what hasn’t. "If you’ve been overly optimistic before, try not to aim too high. If you are fearful or cautious, not stretching yourself enough, set a goal that is more challenging. Or perhaps you flit from one shiny goal to the next, but not making any real progress in anything, in which case, choose one focus (goal), commit and dismiss any others."
When it comes down to it, you do have to put the work in, but still, if you are working towards your own idea of how you want your body to look and feel realistically, there is no reason to not succeed. Powles sums it up as this: "You can’t get fit in three months if you’re trying to fit into someone else’s idea of being fit. It’s about looking and feeling better in your body - be pro-active, do it for you. You will carry yourself better, and the more you do that, the more you breed confidence. So even if that means you can only go twice to the gym before you go away, you will feel better."
Psyched to Get Fit
Three expert trainers give us their top tips for reaching your goal:
Dr Victor Thompson, Clinical Sports Psychologist
Stoke your motivational fire by thinking about how good it will be to achieve your goal. Have two images in your mind: the fit, energetic, healthy and happy you in contrast to the unfit, tired, unhealthy and unhappy you. Make more decisions that take you to the first place - all decisions add up, and it's up to you.
Pre-empt what will get in the way and decide how you’ll tackle those hurdles.
Tell others what your goal is since social pressure, support and questions will help keep you honest and on track.
Consider what will make things easier for you to do what you want, and more difficult to do the things that you don't. So, leave your gym kit inside your front door so you see it; put the biscuit tin upstairs away from the kettle so you have to really want a biscuit to get one.
Phil Daniels, Gym Manager, Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre at Hotel Café Royal
Goals need to be SMART: Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Time-based.
Have your ultimate goal with a time frame, then set mini goals within it to make it more achievable. For example, wanting to lose 10kg in a week is not, but setting a mini goal of a kilo a week is, and over time you will get there.
Go outdoors and enjoy doing things in the fresh air - cycling, running or simply taking a brisk walk. It’s amazing how good we feel when we enjoy nature and it’s amazing how this can help bring about a more confident state of mind.
Grant Powles, Technogym Master Trainer at Technogym
Marry up goals with activities you like, and the type of person you are. I think of these three: ‘the player’ who needs to play sport; ‘the mover’ who needs freedom of movement and avoid formal exercise classes; ‘the trainer’ who likes the classic set routines in classes or at the gym.
Set your own goals. Often clients want me to do it for them, but they need to set their own so that they are measurable for them.
Come up with a routine which fits into your life, take time to sit and write it all down and commit, knowing that you can tweak along the way.