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Keeping Your 2018 Exercise Goals on Track

JENNIFER SMALLRIDGE

Now that the new year has come and gone, how are your resolutions going? Whether you had grand plans or small habits to work on, it’s the perfect time to check in and ensure that you don’t fall off for good.

Perhaps your plans didn’t quite fit in your schedule, or you had the best of intentions but January really got away on you – before you throw in your gym towel, try these three little movement motivation tips on for size and see if you can get your exercise mojo back!

  1. Sprinkle self-kindness like confetti

“Ugh, I failed AGAIN.”

“I always start something and never get around to finishing it.”

 Sound familiar? Whenever we try to make a resolution that lasts, it’s important that it comes from a place of self-compassion and acceptance. No sustainable change has ever come from self-loathing!

It may feel a bit strange at first, but kindness and self-compassion expert Kristen Neff recommends speaking to yourself the same way that you would speak to your best friend. Imagine if your bestie confided in you that she hadn’t completed all those workouts she had planned for this year. You wouldn’t talk down to her, or give her the silent treatment, would you? Unfortunately, that tends to be our first response when it comes to dealing with ourselves. This harsh approach can lead to unnecessary guilt, and ultimately avoidance of the situation.

Go easy on yourself – apply some self-love, and even some words of encouragement that you would normally reserve for a loved one, and see how that feels before tackling your goal again.

 

  1. Be honest about the barriers

If you have fallen off the exercise bandwagon, it’s time to get real about what you set out to do and what has actually happened. You may have accidentally set the bar too high, or perhaps you’ve been active, but it wasn’t the way you envisioned it.

If the old favourite “I don’t have enough time for exercise” applies to you – consider this: lack of time is another way of saying lack of priority. If it’s important to you, you’ll get it done. My favourite example of this is submitting my timesheet for work – I ALWAYS make sure it’s completed on time, no matter how many other things are on. Why? Because there is something in it for me.

So, what’s in it for you? How can you move exercise up your to-do list and ensure that it actually gets done? Begin by listing the reasons why you want to exercise in the first place. These could include fitness, friendship, feeling good in your clothes, or perhaps for health reasons. Now, assess your current schedule and re-prioritise exercise accordingly. Does sleeping in, or working late contribute towards what you are really looking for?

You don’t always have to enjoy the process of getting fit, but you will always love the outcome.

 

  1. Set up little wins along the way

“Running 10km in a fun-run event” is a fantastic goal, but there are so many smaller milestones on the way, and they are all worth celebrating. As with all things in life, it’s best not to delay your happiness!

Behavioural change specialist BJ Fogg suggests that every single time you do something that chips away at your bigger picture, you celebrate it in some way. This doesn’t have to be exorbitant, but psychologically speaking, sharing your success with a loved one or taking a personal moment to let your achievement sink in will activate the reward centres of the brain – ensuring that you’re more likely to engage in that behaviour again.

Above all, remember this: it’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting. Time to get out of your head and into your activewear!

 

Sources:

Fogg, B. J. (2011). Tiny Habits. Tiny Habits w/Dr. BJ Fogg.

Neff, K. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and identity(2), 85-101.

 

 

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