As the strength and conditioning coach for the New England Revolution, this is one of the most exciting times of the year. On the field and off, the players and coaching staff is working hard to prepare for the 2014 MLS season. However, as a personal trainer, this time of year tends to have the opposite effect on my private clients.
As the fervor of New Year's resolutions wears off, it becomes increasingly difficult for everyday gym-goers to stick to their commitments. Gym memberships decline, diets break down and fitness goals fall through the cracks. But there is hope yet. I've listed some simple do's and don'ts that should help you re-commit to your New Year's resolution and revamp those holiday promises.
- Be realistic. Setting unattainable goals will just discourage you when you inevitably fall short. Also, setting lofty, long-term goals makes it much harder to stay committed within the first few months.
- Be specific. Decide exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it, and then stick to it. "I want to get fit this year," is too abstract to last. Try setting a specific goal of working out 3 to 4 times per week, and stick with it.
- Start small. Getting fit is all about mastering the basics. So start off simple and build a base, then you can safely move on to more advanced workouts. You'll be able to see yourself improving every day, and that constant improvement will bolster your resolve and help you avoid setbacks.
- Track your progress. Keep track of your progress by writing it down. Keep it visual and post it somewhere you know you'll see it each day. It's much harder to lose steam on your goals when they are staring you in the face.
- Find a fitness buddy. It's much easier to stay motivated when someone else is relying on you to show up. Keep yourself motivated, and help motivate a friend. Plus, it's much more fun to hit the gym with a friend.
- Reward yourself. Sticking to a militant diet and denying yourself everything you enjoy is a recipe for failure. Sticking to a fitness plan is all about moderation, so keep the sweet treats or cheat days to a minimum, but don't deny yourself completely.
- Burn yourself out. Don't try to climb mountains in the first few months. Take it slow and build up to your goals. Jumping right into an intense training regimen can lead to injury, and nothing kills a resolution like a long recovery process.
- Start at a peak. Starting out strong is great, but don't push yourself beyond your limits in the first few weeks and months. If you start out at a peak there's nowhere to go but down. Remember, it's all about building on the basics.
- Just stick to what's comfortable. Lots of people think that forcing themselves to do a workout they hate means they will have better results, but, in reality, it just means you will resent your fitness routine. And you're much more likely to eventually give it up.
- Set strictly aesthetic goals. Setting goals based exclusively on a number on the scale or a measurement means that you have set a definitive end point on your fitness goals. Instead, set weekly goals or monthly goals and then try to improve on them.
- Expect instant results. Keep in mind that it's called a "New Year's revolution," not a "new month's resolution." Your goals should be attainable, but don't be too hard on yourself if you don't achieve your ideal results right off the bat. You have an entire year to achieve your goals.
Building up to any goal is hard work and requires constant effort, but there's no better feeling than achieving those goals.
Nick Downing is in his second season as the New England Revolution™'s strength and conditioning coach. Downing is responsible for developing and enhancing the Revolution players' speed, strength, and endurance, as well as their overall conditioning and fitness in conjunction with both the coaching and medical staffs. Through an integrated approach--including weight training, cardiovascular training, plyometrics, and nutrition--Downing has created both position-specific and individual programs to help the Revs emerge as of Major League Soccer™'s most fit teams.