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Kickstart your exercise regime

As hard as it seems to comprehend now – off the back of a good two weeks spent eating, drinking, generally being merry, and probably not worrying about whether you’ve hit your 10,000 steps daily – when exercise becomes a habit, it really does become an automatic part of your lifestyle. Habits are as easy to form as they are to break, however, so don’t be disheartened if you’re lacking in the fitness department; the new year is as good a time as any to kickstart your exercise regime and here’s some simple steps to help you do it.

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Set Goals

What is it that you want to achieve in terms of fitness this year? Would you like to shift a few pounds? Gain muscle? Look lean and feel strong? Or work on your distance running? Make a list of your goals; it’ll help you visualise what you want and find the best type of training to achieve them.

Be Realistic

Realistic is the key word here. Realistically, if your goal is to lose weight, you’re not going to lose a stone in a week. Realistically, if you want to get stronger, you’re not going to lift your own bodyweight during your first weights session. Don’t make your goals impossible. Instead, start small and build on your progress, otherwise you run the risk of getting discouraged and throwing the towel in altogether.

Plan for you

When it comes to working out everyone is different – some prefer the bustle of the gym, some the comradery of group classes, and others, the solitude and time efficiency of working out at home. Decide who you are before you start exploring your options – perhaps you’d benefit from a few personal training sessions to get you started, or a trial membership at a gym to try out some bootcamp, CrossFIt, or spin classes. Many people opt for a combination of all of the above to keep things fresh – trial and error works well here.

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Lean on a friend

Committing to a fitness plan with someone makes it a lot easier. Your goals can be completely different, but working out together will give you both an extra motivational push, which is also where group fitness can be helpful. If you do end up going it alone, keep a diary of your progress and share it with the world – that way you’re far more likely to stick at it.

Banish excuses

If you have a niggling injury, or overwork a particular part of your body resulting in soreness, just work out another area and rest the sore spot. If busy executives and single parents with two jobs can find time to work out, remember so can you, and, if you’re facing a particularly hectic day, even 15 minutes of exercise at home is better than no exercise at all. The key is to stick to the plan resolutely.

Clean up your diet

The way you eat accounts for about 80 per cent of how your physique looks. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day (and neither were Jennifer Aniston’s abs), so don’t try and give up all of your vices immediately. Start by cutting down foods that aren’t good for you with a view to eliminating them completely six days out of seven, then throw in a ‘whatever you really want’ cheat meal over the weekend.

Optimise your routine

Work out at a time of day that is best suited to you and you’ll achieve optimum results. Morning people tend to hit the gym before breakfast, and night owls often spring to their fitness best after work. Keep your workouts to no more than 60 minutes in length, and they should only account for around four percent of your day, so there’s no reason not to make it happen.

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Keep Focused

Exercise has its good days and bad days. Relish the good days and learn from the bad –  they’ll help you get stronger mentally, so you can dig deep and remind yourself why you started your journey initially.

Keep Going

If you trip up along the way, it’s alright. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Long-term fitness is a marathon not a sprint, and it takes work (and doubtless a few restarts along the way). Pick yourself up, recommit, and try setting the bar a little lower to get you back on your realistic path. It’s a process, so go with it and you’ll soon see and feel results.

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