The time is now

2022 is here, and now is a great time to start your journey towards a new fitness goal!

Whether you challenge yourself with something audacious, or keep it more low-key, a new year brings optimism. It's an exciting time, as we look to freshen up, make changes and set out targets for the months ahead. As you may have noticed, I’m not referring to them as New Year’s resolutions, as these often encourage radical – and therefore unsustainable – changes in behaviour.  

Setting goals, rather than making resolutions, is about having something you’re working towards. Achieving a goal is a process that involves gradual changes and focus and, in my experience, we have more success at achieving goals than we do at sticking to resolutions. If you’ve been waiting to set yourself a goal, now’s the time to do it. In fact, now has never been a better time.

Health goals

In 2019, a study showed that, unsurprisingly, over three-quarters of New Year’s resolutions were linked to health, with exercising more and eating more healthily being the top two targets. Here are five tips I use when setting clients new fitness/wellness goals.

1) Don't set the bar too high – The greatest failure of many new routines is setting unrealistic goals which are unsustainable; ultimately leading to failure and demotivation. Choose a challenge that fits both your ambition and lifestyle, allowing you time to train correctly and increasing your chances of success. Set small, measurable goals such as 'lose one pound a week' instead of 'lose weight'.

2) Commit to an event – Put your money where your mouth is and sign up for an event. It’s amazing how it will channel the continuation of a training plan when motivation drops. Choosing an event or setting a date for weight loss challenges defines an end point. The important thing is to commit now and get it on the calendar.

3) Seek consistency – Those who make the most progress are not the ones who train harder but rather the ones who achieve the greatest consistency. Training hard but inconsistently is just a lot of suffering for small rewards. Even if you can only train once or twice a week, sticking with those sessions for three months will do wonders for your fitness and achieving your goals!

4) Reduce stress – Some of your aims for the year should revolve around reducing the stress in your life, because all stress – lifestyle, anxiety, training, etc. – impacts performance. When there’s additional stress on top of exercise stress, it becomes more difficult to achieve your goals. Consider getting more sleep: set yourself a bedtime, or introduce meditation prior to sleeping to improve your quality of sleep. There are some great apps to help you.

5) Simplify your eating & drinking – The path to both optimal weight and better performance is by going simpler, rather than more complex. Increase water intake to two to three litres at least per day and stay away from fad diets and starvation methods. Regular food and drink consumption in a controlled situation is key.

Remember, you don’t have to be amazing to start, but you do have to start to be amazing. Good luck!

Nicky Forster had a professional football career spanning over 20 years, playing a total of 721 professional games and scoring 221 goals for eight teams. He represented England at U21 level, playing alongside David Beckham and Phil Neville, and also managed Brentford FC. He now spends his time as a keynote/motivational speaker, and at The Spot Wellness Centre in Godstone.

Nicky Forster

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