January is typically the month were we decide to make changes to our behaviour and way of life. Each year a top ranking promise is to engage in sporting activities, in order to lose weight and live a healthier life. Most manage to take the first steps towards a more active lifestyle but as the year progresses the majority tends to lose sight of the promises, having abandoned sports altogether come December. So how to follow through on your resolution to be more sportive in 2016? Here are some tricks I found to be helpful.
1. Make your goal specific
Vague goals are not going to do it for you. You need to define what you mean by "do more". For me, as a cyclist, it has been crucial to determine the number of kilometres I want to ride in a given year. This helps me to monitor during the year how I am doing. Monitoring your rides is easy with free apps like Strava. But watch out: these can be really addictive! Furtermore, I also specify which cyclosportives (long distance cycling events) I want to participate in. The dates of these events motivate me further to make sure I am ready for those challenges.
2. Deal with stumbling blocks
Get to know the barriers that keep you from realising the goal you set yourself on New Year's eve. For me personally when I lived in the Netherlands wintertime kept me away from the bike. I simply did not feel like going out when it was five degrees and the wind was howling. Once Spring arrived, I was behind on my planned kilometres and I was in no shape to ride any cyclosportive which was very demotivating, leading to more loss of appetite for a bike ride. This changed when I realised I had to find alternatives to help me through the winter months: joining a spinning class, ice skating or go out for a short but intensive ride on a mountain bike.
3. A means to an end and vice versa
When I first started cycling I had just turned forty and was overweight. I knew I needed to get back in shape and bought a bicycle. At first, cycling was simply a means to lose weight, nothing more. As I progressed I started to enjoy the bike rides and took trips in the Netherlands and even abroad. To be able to ride with others and to ride uphill it became clear that more weight loss was essential. Cycling no longer was a means to lose weight, I wanted to lose weight to enjoy cycling better. The more I progressed, the more it became clear that an adapted life style was not a sacrifice but a contribution to more joy and happiness. From that moment on losing weight was much easier.
As with New Year's resolutions, it is easy to make a long list of tips, but these were most helpful to me. Yes, sporting should be fun and to some this may seem like an instrumental approach. But remember, most sports are more fun when you are fitter. After a while you reach a point where you simply cannot do without and you don't need to remind yourself on December, 31 that you should "do more sports".
So good luck and follow through!