January can feel like a long, tough month, and that’s even without being battered by storms Isha and Jocelyn. The dawn of the new year often triggers the urge to tackle the overindulgences of the festive season, but it’s also when the spectre of the ‘January blues’ looms large, presenting a real challenge to finding the spark of motivation needed to get back into exercise.
The mind is the brain, and the brain is the body. Exercise and lifestyle changes are not just about losing weight or building muscle; they’re about the numerous mental health benefits, such as reduced stress and improved mood, which are particularly valuable during the darker, colder winter days.
The good news is that the temporal landmark can be a potent ally in your corner for a fresh start to reset and focus on your health and well-being. Fitness-related resolutions can and do stick with the right approach. The key is to avoid diving headfirst into a new intense exercise routine and instead understand how to motivate yourself to begin.
This isn’t a willpower or discipline thing, although that certainly plays a role throughout the fitness journey. It’s about connecting the dots from your personal purpose in life to getting started. Understanding why we exercise significantly impacts our motivation. Continued drive combines this sense of purpose with a feeling that you’re getting the hang of what you’re doing and becoming more independent, laying the groundwork for becoming consistent (which is the real goal).
After getting started, life’s challenges can and will have a massive impact on your progress, so forget what will yield the best rate of progress in the short term. An imperfect, flexible and enjoyable plan that integrates into your life will make consistency easier. Willpower is a finite resource shared with, at times, higher priority demands than fitness, so plan upfront to make your routine flexible, realistic, and enjoyable.
As you can guess, it’s not about overhauling your lifestyle overnight but making small, sustainable changes. This might mean incorporating brisk walks or a short home workout into your daily routine or finding a fitness class or programme that resonates with your interests and curiosity. Enjoyment is paramount. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it long-term.
Willpower is a finite resource shared with, at times, higher priority demands than fitness, so plan upfront to make your routine flexible, realistic, and enjoyable... If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it long-term— Rory Girvan
The perfect routine or optimal programme will more than likely not match the demands of real life. Your day-to-day schedule, budget and existing commitments should be accounted for first and foremost. Common barriers like time constraints, financial concerns, or simply being overwhelmed by where to start can hinder your fitness journey. Addressing these concerns head-on is crucial; what you can do is more important than what you feel you should do.
Exploring cost-effective ways to exercise, such as outdoor activities or online workout videos, can alleviate financial worries. Understanding that even short periods of exercise can be beneficial helps in managing time constraints.
Remember, the fitness journey is a personal one. It’s not about comparing your progress to others but finding what works for you. Whether through group activities, solo workouts, or simply being more active in your daily life, the key is finding a routine that fits into your lifestyle and brings you joy.
As we look towards the rest of what 2024 has in store for us, embrace the opportunity for a fresh start in your fitness journey. It’s not about drastic changes but about understanding your motivations, setting realistic goals and finding enjoyment in the process.
Here’s to a year where we not only set fitness goals but take steps towards assuming the identity required to achieve them, transforming the January blues into a catalyst for lasting change and wellbeing.