Set Your 2016 Fitness New Year’s Resolutions

Another year has sped by faster than ever, and we have a couple more days before the new year 2016. Use this time to set some new year’s resolutions for your fitness and physique. As a personal trainer in London, I encourage all my clients to look back over their 2015 goals, see how much progress they made and why, and then set some new goals for the next year.

Set your goals

Most of my personal training clients in London want to lose weight. A better goal is to lose fat and gain muscle, while improving your cardiovascular fitness at the same time. Yes, it’s possible to have it all, if you get the balance right.

I remember a personal training client I had back in 2010 in Holland Park, whose stated goal was to lose weight. I encouraged him to be more specific, and we agreed that he lose 50 lbs in one year, at a rate of 1 lb per week. This took some pressure off him, as 1 lb per week is perfectly achievable, and avoids the mistake so many PT clients make which is to aim for rapid weight loss.

Quit Smoking

Before I started out as a personal trainer, I did the Premier Diploma Personal Trainer Course which covered a whole range of health & fitness issues, including smoking. I already knew that smoking was bad for you, but this course spelled out just how much damage smoking does to your life.

If you’re a smoker, I strongly recommend you make it your absolute top goal to quit smoking. I’ve had over a dozen personal training clients in London who smoked, and I opened their eyes to the poisons they were voluntarily inhaling into their lungs.

Did you know, for instance, that some of the poisons in cigarettes are also used in heavy industry machine cleaning fluids, and others were used in the chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds. Why would anyone want to poison themselves?

Just think how much money you can save in a year by not smoking. Why not put that money into a holiday fund and treat yourself to a great holiday next Christmas?

Just how bad do you want to achieve your goals?

I ask my personal training clients in London how badly they want to achieve their goals. They often reply, “I really want to lose weight”, and “I’m really determined”, but when I explain to them what it will take, many lose their enthusiasm and all that resolve melts away like a snowball in a heatwave.

How badly you want to achieve a goal can be measured by what you’re prepared to sacrifice to achieve it. If you’re not prepared to eat more vegetables, or walk more instead of taking the car, or devote 3 hours a week to exercise, or go to bed earlier and get a good night’s sleep rather than staying up drinking with your friends, or skip the pudding at the restaurant,  you’re just not serious about achieving your fitness goals.

Record your progress in a fitness diary

You’ll be amazed how powerful a fitness diary can be, if you use it every day. It focuses your mind, it forces you to be objective and honest with yourself, it becomes a great source of data on what’s working and what isn’t, and it actually helps to modify your behaviour.

Buy one of those big hardback A4 page-a-day diaries. Start by writing your main goals at the front of the diary. For example:

“My goal is to lose 5 stone in one year, starting 1st January 2016. That’s 70 lbs in 52 weeks, an average of 1.35 lbs a week. I am now 20 stone, and I will be 15 stone by 31st December 2016.”

See how strong the intention is in those words? It’s a specific plan of action, a statement of intent.

This mission statement contains several crucial elements. It’s specific. It’s got a deadline. It breaks down the goal into bite-sized chunks. It’s ambitious. It’s certainly worthwhile. And it’s realistic in timescale and total weight-loss.

Include a record of what you’ve eaten, what exercises you did, how it felt, what triggers to eat badly you identified, what obstacles you came across, and what beliefs you have about your goals. More on beliefs below.

Self-sabotaging beliefs

I recommend a book by Maxwell Maltz called Psycho Cybernetics, which explains the concept of self image better than any other book I’ve come across. Your self-image sets the boundaries of what you can achieve, it comprises your beliefs and values and what you think of yourself.

If you don’t think you can achieve a fitness goal, that’s your inadequate self image taking charge. When you upgrade your self image, you upgrade your capability to achieve your goals.

The excuse of “no time”

So when you first consider achieving an ambitious goal, don’t be put off by the mountain you have to climb. When you’re daunted by a goal, it’s very common to make excuses and give up. The most common excuse is “I’ve got no time.” I’ve got three solutions to this: multi-task, delegate, and sacrifice.

Multi-task: You need to get to and from work every day? Walk rather than drive or take the tube. You need to watch your favourite TV programmes? Buy an exercise bike and watch TV while you exercise. Simples!

Delegate: If you feel you don’t have time, try delegating time-consuming tasks to others. Hire a cleaner to take care of the housework. Get one of those magic robot vacuum-cleaners which memorize the layout of your house, and use their detection systems to spend more time on the dirtier bits. Buy a dishwasher so you’re no longer slaving away at the sink. Send out you shirts to be professionally washed and ironed. Order your supermarket shopping online. You get the picture.

Sacrifice: Someone once said that the measure of your character is what you’re prepared to sacrifice. You say you want to lose the flab and get fit. But are you prepared to sacrifice the cream cakes, fizzy drinks, and takeaways? If not, read the next paragraph.

Re-programme your subconscious

As a personal trainer, this is one technique I’ve found hardest to persuade my London clients to take seriously, but those who do are the ones who make the most impressive progress.

The power of your subconscious mind (for good or ill) is now well-established. It controls and defines your self-esteem, self-image, your beliefs about yourself and others and the world at large, and in particular your beliefs about what you’re capable of achieving.

The chief reason people are not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their fitness goals (time, financial, effort) is that deep down in their subconscious, they don’t believe the sacrifices will pay off. So you sabotage yourself from the outset. I go into a lot more detail about this in the Mind Power section of my website

Grab a piece of paper right now and start making your new years resolutions. Start planning, start visualizing your goals for 2016, start taking action, start now! Make sure those goals include fat loss, muscle growth, better eating habits, improved cardio fitness, less alcohol, and if you smoke, put Quit Smoking as your absolute top priority.

Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and author of the blog.