September is the real “new year” – what does this mean for your routines?

Ahh, the mornings and evenings are cooler but there are still warm days ahead. Labour Day Weekend is practically in the rearview mirror. Young adults may be starting a new school year away from home for the first time and are thinking about a whole new program and where they may fit in some exercise. People are coming back to their regular routines after a summer of taking it a bit easier. Others have regular routines and they want to enhance them, keep it up, or maybe even tone it down a bit. Everyone has different goals, but September can be a good time to consider what they are.

September can feel more like a new year than January. Some of us celebrate the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar each September (and sometimes October) so that’s an added feeling of renewal.

Perhaps you have decided this is the time to start a new exercise routine? Why not add in another new regimen at the same time as everything else needs to line up in a row? You may choose not to do this. If so, go ahead and ignore the following advice and enjoy your cardamom-kissed tea and put your feet up. But some are getting out their day planners as I write this.

It may well be a great time to add in a regular habit along with the new drop offs, class schedules, calendars full of meetings. If you have a regular habit, what can you add in or swap for something else, to spice things up? What can you remove from your schedule that’s not serving your goals anymore? Doing these things can help support your mental and physical well being when life is busy.

What are things you can consider while you are making plans for the “new year” ahead?:

  • Write down your plans;
  • Review those plans and then really think what is realistic and what is not – take out what is not;
  • If you know you are not going to have an hour in your day but can fit in a few sessions of 20 minutes, spaced out throughout the day, plan for that adjustment. Don’t try to schedule an hour every day, if that is going to be impossible.
  • Consider what fitness means to you and what works for you. Is there a hobby you used to enjoy that you’ve been meaning to start up again (roller derby, hoola hooping, orienteering). Do you LIKE exercise classes? If yes, do you prefer virtual, in-person, small group, larger gym? Is nature your gymnasium and you’d rather focus your energy on a trail or on the sidewalk?;
  • Put those new plans in your calendar. Whether it’s booking exercise classes or time for a hike and setting aside that time in an app or your Google calendar or an old fashioned wall calendar, make those plans part of your schedule;
  • With respect to the plans in your calendar, be flexible, but also respect those plans. Your friend wants to meet for lunch on Saturday, but you have an exercise class planned for 9 am? Make it a later lunch so you don’t feel too rushed and more likely to opt out of the class. Or suggest another day for the lunch until that 9 am class becomes an ingrained part of your day. Don’t feel guilty about it. Looking after yourself is just as important as socializing;
  • If you are starting a new fitness plan, make sure you are nourishing yourself properly. Don’t worry about what you shouldn’t eat. Actually, don’t worry. Just try to get a lot of fruits and vegetables and enough protein and carbs that you feel satiated. Try to stay hydrated (and also don’t worry if you don’t get 8 glasses of water a day – just drink water or other beverages that make you feel hydrated throughout the day;
  • Cut yourself some slack. If you miss a day’s fitness plans, put it out of your mind and try to keep the next day’s plan. Don’t dwell on what you missed;
  • Don’t create unrealistic goals. Don’t look for “results”. Trust me on this. Just take “results” out of your head and focus on making exercise a habit. If someone starts providing unsolicited advice about results and how you can go after them, tell them that is not your focus and bye.
  • Find a fitness buddy. Whether that person actually works out with you or they are there to encourage you to get to your fitness plans, by text or on the phone, find someone who respects your new plan and is there to encourage (not push) you;
  • Try to get enough sleep. It’s always important to get enough regular sleep, but especially when you are adding a new fitness routine, don’t cut yourself short on your sleep;
  • Be flexible – you decided to try a particular class and after a couple weeks, you just aren’t feeling it, try another class or another option for that time. There isn’t one way to reach your goals, give a few different things a chance before you find something that you enjoy and that sticks;
  • Plan rest days. At least one day a week, plan it as a rest day. No matter how excited you may feel at the new found energy, enthusiasm and incentive to fit that new fitness regimen in every day, make sure you plan a rest day. They are just as important as the active days for your overall well-being; and
  • Think about safety. What gear do you need to keep yourself safe? If you are starting a new walking or running program outside, for example, do you need reflectors? Do you need to remind yourself to look both ways if you are running in an urban area? This may seem trite but safety is important and don’t forget it.

If you embark on a new fitness plan, there may be varying results. You may find a plan that works for you and for which you are fairly consistent with for years to come. You may embark on a new fitness plan and life throws wrenches in your plans and you need to adjust, re-start, re-plan, re-assess. That is OK! Part of the fun, is finding what works for you, and in the process, finding those days, whether regular or interspersed, that pepper your life with feelings of strength, stress relief, a clear mind, renewed incentive, or reminders of what works for you and what doesn’t, and therefore, a better understanding of yourself.

Good luck planning your fitness plans for the “real New Year” in September!

Dear Readers, do you have any tips for anyone starting a new fitness plan this fall?

Nicole lives in TO and has a regular fitness routine of running, HIIT/strength classes, walking a lot and a bit of yoga and other things.

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