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New year fitness challenge

If your new years' resolution is to 'lose weight', 'get fitter' or 'go to the gym every day', you’re not the only one. Here's how to succeed this January and reach your goals.

'Lose weight', 'get fitter' and 'eat more healthily' are the top three resolutions made by Brits every year, with more than 30 per cent of people citing at least one of the above as their main goal for the year ahead.

But with 63 per cent of Brits breaking their new years' resolutions overall, and 66 per cent admitting to breaking them within the first month, we asked the experts whether resolutions are really the best way to motivate yourself…

Start small

"A better strategy is to make small changes that you can stick to daily", says psychotherapist Sally Brown. "It's important to be specific. Rather than resolving to 'be slimmer by summer,' decide specifically what you're going to change. Is it when you eat, your snacking habits, how you plan and shop for food, or how much you move? Then think of an easy, small change you could realistically stick to, such as 'never eating after 8pm' or 'not eating biscuits at work'."

"The human brain hates to feel deprived", she adds, "so reframe your change as a positive choice: 'I get more pleasure if I save my sweet tooth for a treat I really enjoy', or 'I sleep better when I've digested my food', for example. You won't see results straight away, so it's important to also focus on other wellbeing benefits. Then, when that small change becomes a habit, add a new one."

How long does it take to make a new habit?

It takes 30 days to make something a habit. And when it comes to the gym? According to a longitudinal study published in the Journal of Behaviour Medicine, you'd have to visit for an average of four times a week, for six weeks to become a true 'regular'.

Sound achievable? No, we don't think so either. Sure, in an ideal world we'd all go to the gym every day in the morning before work, but realistically most of us just don't have the time.

There are, however, plenty of ways to incorporate more exercise into your life to help you achieve your fitness goals - especially if you're a beginner rather than a behemoth.

Achievable goals

To be considered 'active', government guidelines say you need to participate in some form of exercise - walking, aerobics, running etc. - for 150 hours per week. Sound like a lot? Actually, this works out at 30 minutes per day, which is achievable for everyone.

"The 10,000-step target equates to the same amount of moderate activity", explains personal trainer and wellbeing expert Nicola Addison.

How do I know if I've done 10,000 steps?

Using an activity-tracking device or app, or even an old-school pedometer, can keep you feeling motivated and help you hit your target. Or check out this handy guide to see if you're on track.

But while all will count your steps as a basic function, activity trackers provide more insights into the exercise you do - including distance walked, calories burnt, type of exercise (i.e. cardio, aerobic, etc.). Plus, many offer additional features that can help contribute to losing weight.

Fitness and diet go hand-in-hand

While upping the amount of exercise you do is a sure-fire way to improve your fitness and hit your goals, if your diet is lacking good, healthy foods, you're just doing yourself a disservice.

While finding a diet plan that you can stick to isn't always easy, diets can work if you find one that suits you and your lifestyle. 

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.