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We’re now four weeks into the busy New Year and for many women - regardless of age, ability or background - the feelings of guilt start to wade in for not keeping up the ‘New Year, New Me’ resolutions of exercising more. We’re all feeling the January fatigue, where we’re poor, we’ve quit our New Year’s resolutions and are feeling a bit emotionally fragile. As the most popular New Year’s resolution is getting fit, here are some tools on giving yourself the best chance of success in 2018, and how not to give yourself a hard time for not sticking to a new regime.

You might have skipped an exercise class or spent the last week quivering at the thought of exercising – but it doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up about it; we all have days, weeks and months where being active doesn’t happen. When you find yourself halfway through the week breaking your unrealistically tough resolutions, it’s important to see it as a minor setback and no reason to quit. Accept it and move onwards and upwards. It’s not a message that we hear very often but the This Girl Can campaign is an initiative which champions women by telling them that it is okay to take a break or for life to get in the way sometimes – in fact, it’s completely normal – as long as you have another go when you feel ready.

Ultimately, it’s having a break and not being too hard on yourself, which is going to help you fit physical activity into your lifestyle, as well as finding a sport which motivates you and you enjoy attending. For those looking to increase their activity levels but find that the gym terrifies them or they get bored with traditional sports, there are a whole host of alternative sports out there which are individual as we are. Have a play around to work out whether it’s Parkour which gets you going or Quidditch leaving you on a high after the session. Lizon, 26, who features in the campaign, takes part in dancehall classes and likes the fact that during the class, everybody’s dancing and sweating together, while having a great time. 

We’ve all been there, trying to start the New Year with promises of embracing exercise with open arms and changing who we are overnight. The reality can be somewhat different where, for some, exercise is something which fits quickly and easily into normal life. For others, the thought of a sweat-filled, jiggly exercise class can muster up only feelings of dread, particularly when it feels like we’ve bitten off slightly more than we can chew. It’s no wonder that we feel like failures if we can’t achieve it, with the huge amount of pressure we often place on ourselves. To give yourself the best chance of success, it’s worth setting yourself one thing that you want to change and fully focusing on that. It may sound simple but overwhelming yourself with lots of desired changes simply increases your chances of not sticking to them. As part of these goals, break them into weekly milestones so that they’re more attainable and as a reminder to yourself that you are trying, giving yourself the chance to reflect on positive progress.

Rewarding yourself is something which has come to be almost taboo when discussing fitness and activity. However, deciding on an ultimate reward you’re going to give yourself for sticking to your targets, as well as a small weekly reward along the way, is the perfect way for keeping yourself on track and remaining positive about your target.

Clinical studies have proven that positive thinking literally reprograms the brain. Research shows that the key to changing habits and sticking to them is creating new neural pathways in your brain; so whether it’s a catch up with friends, a relaxing bath or watching an episode of your favourite series, take the time to unwind and know that it’s helping you stay active.

Finally, accountability counts – ask someone in your life to remind you to stay on track. This can be anyone, from a partner, parent or good friend; make sure you let them know your aims, asking them to gently nudge you if things start to slide and of course, congratulate you when you succeed. Lydia, 29, campaign hated PE at school and wasn’t at all active until she discovered roller derby seven years ago. She now goes back every week to see her friends and at 4ft10, uses her height to her advantage by weaving in and out of other players.

It’s worth remembering that ‘success’ is a hugely subjective term and means something different to everyone. The main thing is that you’re trying - and you might be slow, but you’re still lapping everyone on the sofa.

To read more of my tips to set the right resolutions for you and sticking to them, please visit: https://medium.com/@ThisGirlCanUK/starting-a-fitness-new-years-resolution-we-ve-got-you-d25b36602516 

To read the stories of the other girls from This Girl Can, who will inspire you to keep trying: http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/meet-the-girls/

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