Expert advice: How to keep your new fitness routine going

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As part of our Sunday Series, every week we bring you a new expert advice column to make the most of your life in Abu Dhabi. This week, Chris Wraithmell, head of fitness at Advantage Sports, tells us how you can keep your “new year, new me” 

I love the month of January in the health and fitness world, it is by far the most interesting and exciting time of our year.

Motivation is at an all-time high, the optimism people have for the coming year is incredible and everything is done the utmost enthusiasm.

Gyms are heaving, classes are full, social media is littered with endless pictures of ‘clean eating’ dinners; it’s amazing to watch.

I joke with the members at my gym, that all the January ‘newbies’ will be gone in a few weeks. So where does it all go wrong? What happens to all that enthusiasm?

By the middle of February, gyms are back to normal, classes go back to the usual levels and people’s social media posts are now about their weekend brunch exploits instead of their superfood salad. The bubble well and truly bursts.

Now I’ve been a trainer a long time, and I’ve worked with thousands of people – and I can assure you that this happens without fail every single year.

The problem for me…We’ve got too much motivation.That may sound odd, but hear me out.

The newfound motivation is wonderful: we use it to drag ourselves to the gym, start eating cleanly, cut out chocolate, ban takeaways in the house, avoid our favourite foods, drink more water, eat vegetables, cut out carbs, get up early to go for a run and avoid meeting friends for dinner for fear of breaking our diet.

The thing is motivation can only last so long and what happens during the first few weeks of January is that we totally exhaust it.

By the end of January we are totally fed up with everything and can’t take any more, so what happens? We revert back to our old habits and end up back where we started.

The way I guide my clients through this, is simply by slowing them down. The motivation to change your body and improve your health will last a lot longer if you do things at a much more sustainable rate.

It’s important to placing less pressure on yourself to change too many things too quickly. New habits take time to ‘catch on’, so give yourself the opportunity to make that happen.

Start by picking two things you know you can do every day, like drinking more water and eating vegetables every day.

Once they feel natural, maybe add in a couple of trips to your favourite gym class, or a session once per week with a personal trainer.

This pattern of adding things slowly allows for habits to be formed and maintained, meaning that your body weight will keep dropping or your health markers will keep improving – this is where real motivation comes from, when you actually see the results happening.

Slow down and take your time – it will be the best decision you make all year.

Chris works with clients one-to-one in Abu Dhabi to help them train towards goals, lose weight and improve their fitness. To find out more, visit: advantagesportsuae.com 

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