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New Year, New You...

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So we are one month into the New Year... How's it going? How are you feeling?
I know I'm an ex Olympian, former world champion swimmer so I know a thing or two about diet and fitness, but now it's my time to challenge myself and more importantly and harder, the challenge is to get four friends IN SHAPE!

I'm personally going to try a few different events this year - triathlon, open water swimming, two things I have previously avoided. I am a sprinter and am used to lasting 21 seconds! Anything that lasts longer than a minute is normally a no no! I will keep you up to date with all the events.

But this is about four friends: a builder, an accountant, a guy who rents out super cars and another who works in a call centre. Mixed bunch? My mates are always asking me about good foods, bad foods, how to exercise, how to get motivated. I take it for granted as sport has been my life - I needed to know every detail as a hundredth of a second could mean the difference between winning and losing, so I had a think and thought I had to give them a new routine, a new lifestyle. It's not hard - it just takes a little planning and what better way than taking four mates and letting them compete against each other, but more importantly motivate and support one another.

We started with a photo shoot, a before shot... Wow, I could have stopped there, that was motivation enough and started the banter between the boys. They all have different goals, lose weight, put on muscle, but one thing in common, get fitter, and make life easier. If you struggle with motivation, make it social or do it for someone else, your partner, your family, don't be selfish, help someone else.

I thought 10 weeks was long enough to get good results and make it a habit. I'm making it easy enough so they can manage the program around their jobs and family. I'm changing their diets and making them exercise - weights and cardio four times a week for an hour the odd day. One week in and pounds are falling off (literally). More to follow.

If you want to get in shape or change your life style, make a goal.

A couple I know stopped drinking for January. After the excess of Christmas and the New Year, they'd like to start the year in a healthy way - lots of lime and sodas and walks! But it gives them control, for a month anyway and shows them they can do whatever they put their mind too. Losing weight and toning up is going to take commitment and not just wishful thinking. Have you got it in you?

One way to kickstart a new regime is to list all the reasons you want to shape up. Write down your goals - and the reasons you want to reach them. Are you lusting after that (too small) summer dress? Do you want to be dancing at 4am at the local salsa club rather than dropping through exhaustion? Would you like to be able to last a full 90 minutes on the pitch with your workmates when the footie season starts up again after the summer lull?

As part of your "review" you can note the times you have been successful at achieving ambitions in the past. It will prove to you that you can reach goals. Mark down your weight, and as your programme develops you will have a visible record of your progress.

You might not like the numbers the bathroom scales are greeting you with now, but by the time you've lost those extra pounds you will be pleased to know exactly what you have achieved. At the outset, set yourself realistic (and responsible) goals.

There is no point in shedding half a stone in one week by starving yourself. It will be muscle that you are losing and not fat. About two pounds of weight-loss per week is perfectly acceptable.

If you are exercising a lot, progress could seem slow - muscle is heavier than fat.

Instead of worrying about weight, look at your shape, and ask yourself whether your clothes feel looser.

It could mean the difference between giving up and living with your old self for another year, or staying motivated and having a healthy, energy-filled summer.

My biggest tip is to do it with a friend, some friends, family or work colleagues. Sign up to an event, walk, run, bike, swim... There are lots of events out there. Whatever your goal, enjoy and have fun.

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