Now is the time of year when many people decide to set “new year’s resolutions”. From my experience these start between January 1 and mid February. After that many taper off, change their resolution, or face a setback. Part of the problem is that the goals are not sustainable and therefore lead to burnout, injury, boredom, or another negative outcome.
This is unfortunate because these goals are usually made hoping for a POSITIVE outcome.
So when making a resolution or setting a goal for yourself, the first thing I want you to think about is WHY you are making this change in your life. Do you want to have more energy? Do you want to be more social? Maybe you want to be strong so the next time you move you can lift all the heavy boxes yourself. These are all great WHY’s.
The next step is to realize that resolutions should be iterative, or have phases to them. If you want to deadlift 200 pounds, you should expect that could take up to a year if you are only at 100 pounds now and are also juggling a full-time job and other responsibilities.
Remember to work your goals into your life, don't make them your whole life.
So let’s start with making a template or plan. You want to deadlift 200 pounds so that the next time you move, you feel bullet-proof. That’s great. But what is your current routine? You need to make sure your actions match your goal. If you are currently walking 5 days per week, doing yoga, and the occasional strength training workout, it’s time to revamp that schedule, and likely find a professional to coach you through the right form, technique, and progression to prevent injury and build up gradually.
Maybe your goals are not quite so intense and you just want to “live a healthier lifestyle”. Write down what this means to you and make a plan to get to where you want to be or how you want to feel. If you do too much too soon, you will likely get frustrated, miss some of your old habits, and not be able to keep up with the new regimen you have created. Be compassionate and flexible with yourself.
Injury prevention is important for any of your goals because if you get hurt, you may be limited in making progress. So make sure to build in REST with your plan. Maybe rest even is your resolution, and I think that is a wonderful one. Many people try to go hard in the gym or on the pavement 6 or 7 days a week and this is a recipe for injury and burnout. Our bodies need to recover through sleep, hydration, nutrition, and mindfulness. As someone who has experienced and witnessed countless setbacks,
the rest days are so worth it.
Another piece of advice- mix it up. Just because your goal is to run a 5K, doesn’t mean you should ONLY be running, in fact my half marathon time significantly improved when I began seriously cross training with weights and yoga. Try new workouts and you might find something you never thought you loved. These new workouts will help prevent injury AND boredom.
That being said, keep track of your program. This doesn’t have to be a fancy chart of technology. But a general daily recording of what you have done to work towards your goal. You could right: Monday: walked 2 miles, ate my goal of 3 vegetables, and slept 8 hours. That way you can go back and see what kind of progress you have made.
I also recommend talking to people who understand your resolution or goal. This could be personal like friends and family or professional like a personal trainer or dietician. They will be there to support you through the highs and lows of your new routine.
When setting goals and making a plan, take an inventory of your current health status. When was the last time you saw your doctor? Do you have a history of illness or injury that should be addressed before starting a new activity? You may need to modify your routine or group fitness classes based on this answer. What are you comfortable with and what is outside of your comfort zone?
Think about your why and make choices and change habits based on your why.
Injury Prevention 101:
-Warm up: always, 5-10 minutes of movement related to your activity of the day
-Cool down: always 5-10 minutes to bring your heart rate down after exercise
-Hydrate: before, (sometimes) during, and after physical activity
-Nutrition: eat a balanced diet with nutrient rich foods to promote a healthy heart, bones and muscles.
-Sleep: this is essential to repairing your body and exercise performance. Most adults need 7-9 hours per night.
-Want to be stronger? Start lifting weights, go slow, be consistent, keep track of your workouts and give yourself REST days. Your body will not thank you if you try to go hard 7 days a week.
-Want to be faster? Work on sprints, whether that is running, biking, swimming, or something else! But make sure to cross train, your body will not thank you if you sprint 7 days a week.
-See a pattern? Preventing injury is all about balance, consistency, and a customized plan that works with your strengths and weaknesses to get you where you want to be.
And remember to enjoy the ride! Some of the best parts of setting goals are the days in the middle when you start to make slow progress, realize changed habits, or have a better outlook on life!
Comment below what your goals are for 2021 or email email@example.com to share feedback on goal setting and injury prevention.