How to Go Into the New Year Mentally Strong

By Dr. Haley Perlus on December 13, 2016 , categorized in Health

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Everyone around you may be waiting until the New Year to up their heath game, but that doesn’t mean you should. Just as I don’t advise the athletes I consult to wait until Monday to start their weekly training and nutrition program, I don’t recommend you wait until January 1st to implement new health behaviors.

“Carpe Diem”, “There’s no time like the present”, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today”, are sayings you’ve heard before and there is truth to them, especially around this time of year. With shorter days, colder temperatures, holiday schedules, and the added pressure that often comes with setting New Year’s resolutions, now is the time to create mental strength. Then you can perform your best and make improvements that will last, not just for a few weeks into January, but for the entire upcoming year.

A great way to reignite some motivation and perseverance is to take a few minutes and reflect on your past performances, both good and bad. Identifying the specific factors that can help and also hurt your performance creates a new level of awareness. In turn you can start to set goals that target specific ways to step up your training and nutrition. Then, you give yourself the best shot at getting results and further increase your motivation and drive for optimal health and fitness.

To get you started, answer the following questions to the best of your ability, being as honest and truthful as possible. Feel free to print them out, or copy and paste to actually do this exercise. I have included some examples to help get you started.

1. Describe your most productive training session (e.g. time of day, location, format)
Example: Morning hike with my workout partner. Goal was to get to the top in 50 minutes and we pushed ourselves and made it in 42 with minimal stops.

2. Describe your least productive training session (e.g. time of day, location, format)
Example: 4PM open gym weight workout. I could have done the second part of the planned workout, but stopped instead because I wasn’t into it.

3. What foods, songs, training partners, training professionals, etc. helped you to exert your best efforts during training?
Example: I love drinking Vega® Clean* Energy before I train. My hip hop playlist helps to motivate me. I prefer to train with a partner and in a focused setting where there is a specific goal that cannot be cut short (i.e. hike up so I can take a chairlift down)

4. What can you do to make your training even more productive?
Example: Mornings are really the best time for me to train. On days that I don’t feel like it, instead of pushing it off, I could set the goal of at least 20 minutes of activity in the morning.

5. Describe your healthiest day of eating (e.g. did you eat at home? Did you cook or buy prepared food? Did you plan ahead? Did you eat at a specific time?)
Example: Eating at home is always best for me. I don’t necessarily prepare in advance, but I only keep the good stuff in my house and that helps me feel healthy.

6. Describe your unhealthiest day of eating
Example: Not just eating out, but waiting until I’m starving. If I don’t eat frequently throughout the day, when I do eat, I’ll make unhealthy choices.

7. What can you do to further improve your nutrition?
Example: Keep almonds, celery sticks, organic popcorn, and/or a Vega® Protein+ Snack Bar in my purse or car at all times. That way, on days that get away from me, I always have good options to eat before I go out (so I don’t feel famished, which may lead to bad choices, or at least remind me of my goal to be healthy).

These questions will help you use your past to create your best future. And when I say future, I’m referring to your very next training session and meal. Use the answers to #4 and #7 to create short-term goals for today. Again, when you focus on the present moment, you’ll develop mental strength to be successful during the rest of this year as well as the next one!

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Dr. Haley Perlus

Dr. Haley Perlus is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Vega’s Expert Panel. With a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology, M.S. in Sport Pedagogy, and numerous fitness and coaching certifications, Dr. Perlus is an expert at empowering athletes of all types and health enthusiasts achieve peak results. An adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, international speaker, former Alpine ski racer, appointed Industry Leader for IHRSA.org, and author including soon-to-be-released The One Minute Dietand Guidebook to Gold, Dr. Perlus helps people reach their highest standard of performance. For a free chapter of one of her books visit www.DrHaleyPerlus.com

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