How to have a no-pressure new year

Womens Running Christmas

Ah, New Year – shiny with possibility and the promise of what you could do and who you could become!

How many of us sit down every 1st January – or maybe the 2nd, once the hangover or the food coma’s worn off – and think ‘This will be the year I change my life!’? And how many of us, after making a long list of unrealistic resolutions, fall off the wagon and spiral into anger and low self-esteem?

Hey, we see you. We’ve been there, too.

But here’s the thing: New Year doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing experience. You don’t have to be a paragon of healthy living and exercise to have a great year. In fact, if you start off with those goals, we’re sorry to break it to you, but you’re likely to have ditched them before the end of January.

The New Year period shouldn’t be your punishment for indulging or relaxing over Christmas. Instead, give yourself a break and get motivated while being kind to yourself by following our guide to a no-pressure New Year.

Begin with baby steps

Recognise where you’re at on your fitness journey, and work out what success looks like for you. Be realistic: if you’re currently not exercising at all, deciding that you’re going to run every day in January probably isn’t achievable. If you’re serious about making changes, they need to be consistent, so start with some easy wins – commit to an achievable number of steps per day, or to spending a minimum amount of time outdoors. Remember, the first couple of weeks are the hardest, and that’s where accountability and support really counts – so get some friends involved and keep each other going.

Measure your successes and be kind to yourself

Think back to when you were at school – what kind of teachers got the best results out of you? Was it the one who shouted and said hurtful things? Or was it the one who encouraged you and praised you when you made progress? We’re guessing it was the latter. Model your inner voice on a kindly teacher – take a moment to tell yourself you’re doing well and that you’re feeling proud. It might sound a bit ‘woo’, but a gentle inner voice gets better results.

Don’t let one setback derail you – it’s about the journey

When you hit an obstacle – and it happens to us all, we’re only human – it can be tempting to give up completely. But instead of focusing on the setback, think of your fitness as a long term journey. As long as the overall trajectory is upwards, skipping the odd session shouldn’t matter too much.

That said, though, there are lots of ways to avoid setbacks – or to avoid them becoming too acceptable. Running with friends or joining a club makes you more accountable, as does entering an event (need a suggestion? We have plenty!). Find a way of building activity into your life, and then drop the comparisons – life’s too short.

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