Checklist: 8 things you need to do this January before embarking on your fitness journey

It’s important not to dive in at the deep end if you want to achieve long-term goals, writes David Last.

THE NEW YEAR has kicked in, the trees are coming down, the Christmas lights are being turned off and all the partying has finished for another festive season.

First of all, I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year with family and friends.

January is a time of the year where many of you start to get going again; eyeing up New Year’s resolutions and goals.

For a lot of us these goals tend to be focused around health, wellness and fitness.

Below are a couple of simple tips which I feel are quite important and can be treated as a January checklist.

1. Start small and build from there

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This advice is for everyone, whether you are a complete beginner or the advanced gym-goer who has taken an extra few days of rest over Christmas and are looking to get going again in January.

It is very common for people to dive straight into the deep end. Over the years, I have seen this happen to many and it only leads to burnout, injury or loss of interest within a couple of weeks.

Start small and go from there. Build your foundation and develop it.

2. Choose the right path

Many will walk into a commercial gym in January and sign up for their 12-month special offer.

Having worked in these gyms, I have seen many people follow this path and come March a lot of them are nowhere to be seen.

It is great that you have a goal to get fit and want to improve your health but my advice is to look at the different avenues out there before going down this route.

Do something you might actually enjoy and get more benefit from. This could be anything from joining a sports team, signing up for a weekly 5km park run, sourcing a gym to suit your needs, working with a personal trainer or just getting out on the many hiking/walking trails Ireland has to offer.

If you need some help on what type of gym will suit your needs then go read this article that I did last year.

3. Drink more water

This is easier said than done for most and a lot of the time people underestimate their daily intake of water.

I recommend starting your day with a glass of water and shooting for a total daily intake of 2.5-4 litres, depending on the individual.

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4. Catch up on sleep

This is another pretty basic rule that people need to focus on. It is an area that lets down many when chasing their fitness goals.

Believe or not, it’s not the training or food plan you’re on that is not always working, a lot of the time it’s the fact you’re not getting the basics right first.

Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night is one of the fundamental rules when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle.

5. Get back on your 80/20 approach

In an article last month I mentioned the 70/30 approach, which gave a little more leeway to enjoy the nice treats over the festive period.

At this stage most of us are sick of eating Christmas food and ready to get back on track.

My advice is to clean up the diet and get on the 80/20 approach. I have written about this before and you can find all that information here.

6. Write down your goals/visualisation

I am a big believer in writing down your goals for the year ahead and using daily reminders to keep you on track in getting after those targets.

I have talked about using a journal and logging your daily progress or even having a visualisation board to put all your goals on show for the year as another useful way of helping you out.

Log your weekly goals and every day write down what went right and what could have even gone better.

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Remember the goal here should be to get 1% better each day, you don’t need to be perfect every single day.

7. Short/medium/long-term goals

Having short- to long-term goals is something I believe works very well. Like I said above, build your foundation and develop from there.

A short-term goal could be something as basic as aiming to take three litres of water on board a day for the first seven days of your new healthy lifestyle — allowing that to become a new good habit and moving on from there.

A medium-term goal could be to do a couple of 5-10k runs and work towards that long-term goal of a half-marathon.

8. Test and retest

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This is another important point and something I like to do with my own training targets and with my clients.

As I like to say, ‘if you’re not assessing your really only guessing’. I would suggest you test and retest your progress every four-six weeks and this is something you could do towards the end of January.

This could be anything from retesting your body fat readings, that most personal trainers should be doing with their clients, comparing your 5k run times in the first week of January to the final week of the month, or something as simple as retesting your mobility/flexibility work that you started doing daily.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below. You can also get more advice on my social media pages, which are also linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

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David Last

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