Karl Henry: Spring into spring - Week 1: Build your foundations
You have taken the first few days of the year to settle back into your routine: work, school, home and social life. Now it's time to tackle those dreaded resolutions - but don't worry, because this year is going to be different.
Over the course of the next eight weeks, I will guide you through the pitfalls that normally occur around this time of year. Each week I will cover a different topic, kicking off right at the beginning of your new fitness journey as you take the time to plan and build your foundations properly.
I will also bring you an exercise that you can build on every week and the occasional recipe too. The first thing to note is: don't concern yourself with what anyone else is doing; during these eight weeks you will be setting resolutions that will last for life, not just for January.
Establish the 'why?'
The most important component of any life-long change is to identify why you are doing it. If you can establish this before embarking on a new challenge, you will build a foundation that can survive any test of willpower. Change is hard and there will be times when you will want to stop, to give up or, for whatever reason, let yourself fall off the wagon. However, if the 'why?' is strong enough, then you will have a better chance of staying on track and succeeding.
Here is my own personal formula for getting that 'why?':
Take out a blank sheet of paper and write down all the reasons on the page that you want to make this change, filling it with as many words as possible.
Now put it to one side and get on with the rest of your day. Some 10 hours later, come back to that page and take another look at it. Circle the words that stand out as being the most important for you.
From those highlighted words, make a list of your top five reasons. Some examples of these might be: "I want to do it for myself", "I want to live longer and healthier", "I want to run 5k", "I need to change for my health" or "I want to feel better on holidays". You will find the reasons jump off the page when you look at it a second time, making it easy to identify your 'why?'.
Once you have it, make it visible. Place it in your diary, in your car, in your office. Ensure your 'why' is visible to activate your subconscious mind and give you a mission statement to help you stay on track.
By taking the time to do this, you are preparing yourself to make a real health change - not just for this month, or this year, but for the rest of your life. The clearer you can make your 'why?', the stronger it becomes, so get your pen and get to work!
Week 1 to-do list:
* Create your 'why?'
* Prepare at least one homemade meal
* Empty the house of all junk foods
* Drink two litres of water a day
* Sit less and stand more
Week 1 exercise: The ski squat
This is a classic exercise that will help to improve your leg strength for anyone of any age - so you have no excuses.
1. Start with your back against the wall. Place your feet shoulder width apart with hands by your side.
2. Now lower your body down until your quads are parallel to the floor, ensuring your knees never extend over your toes.
3. Hold here for as long as you can. You can use this as a test to see how long you can hold for and then try to increase the time each week. You should be able to hold for at least 30 seconds.
4. Aim to try this two to three times each day and you should see your leg strength build up very quickly.