"Consistency is key". This saying couldn’t be truer and is especially pertinent in the new year when everyone flies into January, all guns blazing. Unfortunately, as soon as the first hurdle comes up, more often than not, it all falls apart – let’s try again next year eh?
The key to both long (and short!) term success is consistency. I would rather you followed a sub optimal plan for 12 weeks than a perfect plan for 2. This is often what happens where people promise themselves that they will give up booze, chocolate and carbs and train twice a day as their ‘New Years Resolution’ and then bomb out after a few days. This won’t last. I promise you. And two weeks of this with an epic rebound will not get you to your goals, so how SHOULD you do it?
I recommend picking habits and goals that you can see yourself maintaining ‘forever’ or at the very least in the long term, come rain or shine. It’s these habits that will, over time, accumulate into the results you desire. This means you need to be smart about the ones you choose and try not to change TOO much in one go.
For example, you can set yourself 2-3 workouts a week in whatever form you enjoy, whether this is classes, going for a run or a training session in the gym. Set this as your baseline and plan to do this whatever comes up in your life or schedule. Some weeks it’ll be easy and you’ll want to do more and some weeks it’ll be hard. These are the weeks when you need to knuckle down and decide if you really want it or not. Ultimately, if you can’t make time for 2 workouts a week, every week, then you probably aren’t ready to make the greater change.
Making time is key to all of this. Everyone has the same 7 days in a week and infinite demands on their time. Very few people can claim to be entirely efficient with it. Cumulatively, how many hours do you spend watching TV, Netflix or scrolling through social media? Certainly, I used to spend at least an hour in bed on my phone before falling asleep which meant I woke up later in the morning. The simple fix for me was to charge my phone downstairs and all of a sudden I had an extra hour for an early gym session or to check and reply to emails.
With any habits or resolutions, planning ahead will ensure the most chance of success. This can mean getting other things done early and efficiently so you don’t bump off your gym session later in the week or it can mean taking your gym kit to work so you can go straight to the gym without going home first. This can be hugely useful if your gym is near your work or if once you’re home you know you will get distracted by a million and one things and probably never make it out of the house again.
Consistency also applies when it comes to nutrition and it’s important to set sensible targets both in terms of goals, but also in how you’re going to achieve them. Planning to drop 20kg in January is unlikely to happen and giving up a huge range of food is also not going to last. Pick a sensible diet that you enjoy and doesn’t leave you listless and broken 3 days in. Try to have foods you enjoy in moderation on a regular basis and prioritise fuelling your training sessions.
Planning to make sure you have good food readily available is important and even mapping out a rough meal plan for the week ahead means that you can shop in bulk in one go and then don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat on each occasion. Supplements like the Reflex Nutrition diet meal replacement (Diet MRP) shake can be absolutely perfect for a balanced, high protein snack on the go and putting a serving in a small Tupperware in your bag means you have an ‘emergency’ shake if you end up in a fix with no food. This can also work well if you train before work. Have a Reflex Nutrition Diet Protein shake ready for straight after training to keep you topped up until your next meal.
Finding this sweet spot where your fitness goals meld seamlessly into your lifestyle long term is so important, as the results will come rapidly and it won’t feel a chore. After a few months, once these habits are truly ingrained (and you’ve reached your initial goal) you can start to look at developing them further and working towards greater things!