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New Year, New You

     Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover

Do something positive...

As a new year comes around, the old phrase 'new year, new me' can be heard echoing around every corner of the dog agility world. Are you thinking 2020 is the year to make a positive change? Is this the season that you are going to get fitter? Run faster? Feel rejuvenated? If so, personal coach Chris Kerton has some sensible suggestions on how you can make 2020 the best year ever in your personal and dog agility life.

I do not care what drives you to make a change whether it be  a young dog with potential, an upcoming wedding, a landmark birthday, health reasons or even just the start of a new week (aka I'll start Monday syndrome). I just care that you want to do something.

Allow me to give you a few suggestions as to how you can make this year the one when the changes stick.

First of all, with anything revolving around fitness, health and nutrition, consistency is key. It is everything.

Any program, diet plan or health fix that is promising you a quick fix is, in my opinion, a waste of time. Avoid these at all costs because that is all they will be to you - a cost.

Stay consistent?
Start with making small changes. For instance, If you have been eating whatever you wanted for the past X-number of years, there is no point in suddenly going to green beans, chicken and rice seven days a week. That is not going to be fun, and that is not going to be sustainable.  It puts an unrealistic pressure on you and inevitably sets you up to fail.

Start small.
Create tiny habits. Maybe commit to adding a green veg to every meal the first week. The second week commit to drinking a litre of water a day. This way you get used to achieving all your goals. Motivation stays high, and you will be far more likely to stay consistent with these positive lifestyle changes.

This goes for fitness and training, too. If you haven't exercised for a while/ever, then don't jump into the gym and start training seven days a week.

Maybe make a commitment to take the stairs instead of the lift. Perhaps you could give yourself a NEAT  (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) target for the day? If you are a bit more experienced with exercise, then you can make more realistic goals suitable to your level. But whatever they are, start small.

Make a plan
You'll find it is easier to stick to a plan than something you've made it up as you go along. Think of when you taught your dog to weave. You didn't set 12 weave poles out and pray to the gods of agility that Rex would take to it like a Spaniel to water.

So here's a recap:-

  • Start small.

  • Make a plan.

  • Make each session achievable. The habit of succeeding is a powerful habit to learn.

If you need help making a plan, there are people who can advise. Seek assistance from someone with the relevant qualifications.

Set yourself goals
Motivation can often be the thing that derails people from their new plan. It's beneficial to set yourself realistic goals for you to work towards.

I would always advise a short term goal, a medium term goal and a long term goal.

I'd suggest making them process goals which are all about doing the right thing, regardless of the outcome, knowing that the right activities will lead you to your ultimate goal. Focus on the process, something you are in control of, not the outcome, which ultimately you might not be in control of. This applies to dog training as much as it goes for fitness.

If you plan to focus on your fitness, a good short term goal might be to complete three sessions focusing on fitness and health improvement for the first four weeks. They do not all need to be physical. Some could focus on mental strength, breath-work or passive stretching. The options are endless.

A medium term goal for dog training might be that you'd like to be able to teach your dog to weave independently within two months.

And a long term goal could be that in a years time, you'd like to look back and not recognise the person that you were. Because that can happen. It does happen. All through small, sustainable changes.

Change your mind-set
Positivity breeds positive outcomes. Should you find yourself feeling negative, it is important to reframe your thoughts in a positive way. Do not allow yourself to focus on the negative. Think of these as 'red light thoughts.' For every red light thought, you have to find two green light thoughts.

For example, you come up to your first course walk of the day and think 'oh this looks like a difficult course I won't be able to do it.'

Nope, not allowed.

Instead think, 'I am looking forward to the challenge of this course. I can practice my contacts so I know where I need to improve.'

Yes, the course may be hard, but overcoming difficult challenges is what makes us better. It is what makes us stronger. The same goes for physical training. It makes us mentally and physically more robust. You need to be challenged to realise just what you are capable of doing. One way you can help yourself is forcing a positive mind-set until you realise your full potential. It is a fundamental law of nature that you get stronger only by doing difficult things.

Make it fun
Whether it be fitness or nutrition or dog agility, whatever change you hope to implement, you need to enjoy it. Again, it comes back to consistency. You need to want to do it or the chances are when that initial motivation dwindles, like the last few chocolates in a Quality Street tin, so will your adherence to the plan.

What's the best type of exercise? The one you enjoy. Don't like spin-class? Don't do spin-class. Can't contemplate the thought of having no carbs in your diet? Avoid the Keto diet.

With all the things suggested, finding suitable and appropriate help can go a long way to helping you achieve these goals. Not all gyms are equal, just as not all coaches and personal trainers are. Picking the right gym, PT or coach for you will increase your chances of long-term success.

Still think this is the year to make some big changes? Good. Now, go and do it.

I hope this small article can help you in any changes you are planning to make.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch by email, Face book or Instagram

About the author...
Chris Kerton is a Level 3 personal trainer and a Level 4 Strength and Conditioning coach with 15+ years coaching experience.

He competes at Championship level (Grade 7) in the UK and has represented Team Wales for the last three years at the WAOs. Currently he is  the handler fitness coach for Great Britain dog agility team.

He lives in Wales and runs Karma Fitness.

First published 15th January 2020