Attack your 2014 Resolution Mindfully

Attention …

… Resolutions can work, you don’t have to fail. 

Against the common opinion and observations, making changes or a New Years resolution, can happen and do happen.

In most occasions stories of failures travel stronger than tales of success.

We all know the January 1st resolution revolutionaries who start out full tilt only to fail, give up or to wear themselves out by January the 21st or earlier.

Their doomed tactic is to attack everything at once. They cut their diet to the most unbearable of limits, they exercise much more than they had been, they go out and buy every imaginable pre-workout, intra-workout and post workout concoction and heaven knows what else to make their dreams seem all the more feasible.

This start off in 5th gear strategy is far from sensible. You wouldn’t get into your car and try to take off in 5th gear. You wouldn’t throw all the ingredients of a cake straight into the oven and expect a glorious cake to come out and you wouldn’t expect a seed to grow and develop into a blooming tree without a little bit of patience.

I could spend many hours attempting to write something that covers intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, self defeating and self limiting factors, Prochaska and Diclementes stages of change but, I won’t. There are many more highly educated people out there who share this information online…

Prochaska and Diclementes stages of change

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

We’ve all heard and read that quote numerous times before and I’m pretty sure we can recall a personal instance of it. If not, why the heck are you reading this? You probably know better than I how to plan to succeed.

Anyway, the phrase is a very simple instruction once you covert it from a negative to a positive.

‘Winning to plan is planning to win’.

Hmmmmm, think I like that more.

I love modern set-up instructions for games consoles and phones, so long as they are in English. My Spansh isn’t too ‘fluido’ these days!

These instructions go something like:

1) unpack all equipment

2) plug A into B

3) plug C into D

4) switch on A and B

5) you are now ready to play

Okay, not a very good example list but you get the idea.

Now, imagine your new years plan, now we’ve established that you are going to plan rather than just go crazy like all the other crazies out there (no insult to genuine crazies intended).

The end goal of running through the set-up for your console is so that it works and continues to work for a long time after this initial phase.

The set-up list for a console or other devise, is arranged in an order of priority. You have to set up one thing so that the next has a chance to work. It also allows you to focus on one thing at a time!!

This ‘chain’ of priorities should be demonstrated on your plan.

Let’s consider a weight loss plan as most new year ‘resolutionairres’ will be targeting this.

You know you want to lose weight and supposing you’re relatively educated you’ll know that to lose weight aka body fat you will need to:

  1. Adjust your diet.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Educate yourself about 1 and 2.
  4. Stay on course.

This isn’t your ultimate plan, it’s just identifying an agenda.

Number 4, staying on course is probably the most important as it’ll override everything else. Number 4 entails considering your goals, staying motivated to reach them and setting short term goals.

This then is number one on your list. Set goals. You might say you want to lose 8kg in 2 months. So let’s break that down to 1kg per week on average (fat loss can fluctuate a lot over a course of 2 months)

So now you’ve got a weekly plan. Let’s add the dietary element. First thing is to get a professional to look at your food diary – yup, you’ll have to keep a log of every morsel that enters your mouth, drinks included.

You might even look at your own food diary and clearly see what needs to change. You may know already that all the mini Mars bars, muesli bars, hump-day pizza and chill-out wine have to go!

To be honest, acknowledging the errors is the battle half won, so be honest with yourself in terms of what you need in your diet.

Cutting everything at once may not be the best solution for all but the most resolute, stubborn, dedicated, non-distracted people out there. For everyone else, let’s break it down into a months block.

Week 1: Fix breakfast

Week 2: Fix lunch and maintain the new improves breaky

Week 3: Fix dinner whilst maintaining the good breakfasts and lunches

Week 4: Hopefully you’ll be adjusting to the new normal meals

At this stage, if you feel you can’t maintain the new habits, go back to week one or week two or wherever you feel you struggle. It may take a few cycles of trying this but I find regressing to the simpler stages of week 1 or 2 and trying again works for most.

The 3rd element is probably where most overestimate the benefits. Any honest trainer will tell you that the time spent exercising your butt off is only a third or a quarter of a successful weight loss plan and lifestyle.

Let’s be clear here, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet!

It doesn’t matter how hard you exercise, a shoddy diet will hold you back.

Exercise still has a very, very  important role to play though.

Cardiovascular steady state exercise will assist to create a calorie deficit and a healthy heart, circulatory system and an entrance level activity for some exercise newcomers.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) will assist in creating an EPOC – Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. To simply this mouthful, EPOC increases post exercise metabolic activity and forces the body to use more energy stores or Fat, for a period after stopping exercise for the day.

Resistance Training offers the same as HIIT but as an added benefit helps to develop and maintain muscle mass, strength, posture and physique.

To break these down into a monthly plan does depend a lot on the individuals experience in all of these. Factors to consider before embarking on any of these include:

  1. Cardiovascular health – get a check up with the Dr
  2. Your Mobility – get a functional movement screen (FMS) to assess your potential risk of injury and exercise contraindications
  3. How long have you been exercising including all three of the above?
  4. How much time do you have to exercise per day or per week?

If you have only 45 mins to an hour 2 to 3 times a week set aside to exercise around work and family commitments, your plan will look vastly different to an exerciser who is perhaps retired or single and has an hour+ a day to kill.

However, a progressive exercise plan should be structured so that you are not busting a gut every session. Many exercisers fail to reach potential because they continuously do the same ol same ol and always pedal to the metal! If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had! Another great quote by some smart ass.

However, over the course of a week training should be wisely cycled over varied intensities from Light, Heavy to Medium using the three mediums identified above (Steady State cardio, Resistance Training and HIIT). This simple progression is a tried and many times tested system of training. Again, the details depends on the individual and a good trainer will structure the variables accordingly over a 4 week plan, to accompany the diet.

The absolute minutia of a program is so hinged around the individual and the variables attached to them but a template for a 4 week plan could look like this below, combining the dietary elements too.

Prior to commencement consult with your Dr, complete a weeks worth of a food diary and identify weak areas and maybe book a trainer!

Week 1: Fix Breakfast and complete a medium intensity resistance program, a steady state cardio session and another medium intensity resistance program.

Week 2: Sort out lunch and complete a steady state cardio session, a harder resistance program and another light to medium intensity resistance program.

Week 3: Work on improving dinner and complete a steady state cardio session, a medium to hard resistance program and a short HIIT session.

Week 4: Maintain great meals throughout the days and complete a steady state cardio session, a hard resistance program and a thorough HIIT session.

Week 5:  Should aim to maintain the healthier eating habit or resolving any issues while repeating the exercise plan from the stage of the Week 2 schedule… and continue in this 4 week waving pattern of 4 weeks forward, 3 back.  The weeks too may have a rotating intensity like the weekly plan of light, hard and medium.

This of course is a simple suggestion but a plan very similar to what I have used for clients successfully over the years. Of course, not everyone actually wants to change, but this is a subject for a very lengthy discussion by parties far smarter than I.

Essentially, what I have attempted to illustrate is a plan. Break your goal down into what you need to do to accomplish it then try the plan over a set period, 4 weeks in my case. If it doesn’t work , try it again. Don’t stress, failure isn’t the end of the story, just something to learn from, remember and an obstacle to clear on the next attempt.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.”

– H. Stanley Judd

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

– Julie Andrews

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

– Johnny Cash

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