Oh no. The time has come to halt the excessive overindulgence of Christmas, and look to the New Year.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Our friends at Move GB explain how you can have your cake (and eat it!) when adopting a realistically healthy lifestyle. 

It's that time of year again when thoughts roll round to the future and what we'd like to achieve in order to be the healthiest and happiest version of ourselves. 

For a lot of people these goals often revolve around health and fitness, so we've put together our top tips on how to stick to your resolutions and smash your goals in 2017.

1. Create a habit

Consistency is one of the biggest factors when it comes to success, so one of the first steps is to create a habit - without consistency, you'll find it very difficult to make significant changes. As explained in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, there is a simple neurological loop at the core of every habit, a loop that consists of three parts: A cue, a routine and a reward. A simple way to try this at home is by using a visual trigger method of "not breaking the chain". Get a calendar and display it somewhere you're likely to see it frequently. For every day you perform an action that moves you closer towards your goal, for example exercising for at least 20 minutes, mark off the day with a cross.

How it works

  • The ‘cue’ is that there is no cross in the upcoming day which signals to your brain that you need to do something active.
  • The routine is getting active
  • The reward is the physical act of crossing off another day and seeing that chain grow (not to mention all the other awesome byproducts of exercise)

As this happens repeatedly, the process slowly becomes more automated. Eventually, the cue and the reward work together to form powerful neurological cravings that drive us to want to carry out the routine and you no longer need the calendar!

2. Add Variety

Once you've mastered habit formation, the next step is to add in variety to keep you interested. The average gym goers routine lasts just 8 weeks, so trying a new exercise class or method of working out can be a great way to keep you motivated and stop you from throwing in the towel because you’re bored. A study published in Psychology and Health found that people taking part in a new form of exercise reported higher levels of positive feelings and expressed a greater interest in working out regularly in the upcoming month than the group doing an exercise they have done before. A great way to add variety to your workouts is by using a flexible fitness membership like MoveGB.

3. Stop Thinking About Your Goals

This one might seem a bit odd - after all this article is all about our top tips on how to reach them! However, studies have shown that using our long term goals as a means to motivate ourselves to create sustainable habits doesn’t always work. Dr Segar, a psychologist who helps people form and maintain regular exercise habits, found that using exercise as a means of preventing disease, promoting weight loss and generally improving health was not a good enough reason for people to make it a priority in their lives. What she suggests is more effective is to think of exercise and it’s immediate rewards; for example improved mood, lower stress levels and more energy. When we begin to recognise exercise as a positive and rewarding experience, it becomes something we do because we choose to rather than we need to.

In a study of office workers, David K. Ingledew and David Markland, psychologists at the University of Wales, found that while many people initially began exercising as a means of losing weight and improving their appearance, these motivations did not keep them exercising in the long term. The researchers concluded that instead more emphasis should be put upon the enjoyment and positive wellbeing effects of exercise.

So there it is - 3 super simple steps to creating a fitness habit - for life!

Published -28th December 2016