Pat Divilly: focus on progress, not perfection and other great tips for a great fitness regime

Irish fitness expert, author and entrepreneur Pat Divilly explains that the right mind-set is the basis of any successful fitness regime

“I work with my clients on what I call ‘motivational richness’,” says Pat Divilly, above.  “You need to think what impact these changes will have on your life, your confidence, your relationships, your work life, your sex life etc.”

“I work with my clients on what I call ‘motivational richness’,” says Pat Divilly, above. “You need to think what impact these changes will have on your life, your confidence, your relationships, your work life, your sex life etc.”

 

Most people say they want to lose weight, but they haven’t really given much thought to the impact that will have on them
When it comes to reaching for the glass of wine, many can’t think of a good reason not to. I work with my clients on what I call “motivational richness” – you need to think what impact these changes will have on your life, your confidence, your relationships, your work life, your sex life etc. You may want to be a bit lighter on the scales but as well as that, you may connect better with your partner, or be more of a role model for your kids.

So many people join the gym every January and give up within weeks
People classically do this – take the same actions they’ve done before and wonder why it is the same result. I always get people to identify problems and prescriptions – what happened last January that meant it didn’t work out for you? If you can self-diagnose before you start, and identify five or 10 potential struggles and then prescriptions for what you will do when they arise, you give yourself the best chance.

Give yourself a performance-based outcome
Don’t become obsessed with a number on the scales; instead, think of something you’d physically like to be able to do. This could be a 5km or 10km run, or maybe you just want to do your first set of push-ups. If you focus on a goal like this, generally the scales will take care of itself. The people who are always on and off the scales tend to yo-yo, whereas those who lead a fit and healthy lifestyle don’t need to worry about the scales.

Instead of focusing on perfection focus on progress
If you set out on a plan and you are focused on doing things perfectly; then if you slip in any way, you feel like you want to throw it out the window. List three things that went well for you last week, why they were important, and then list three things you can do this week to continue to progress. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve had a bad weekend.

Find a training partner
We all have goals but once you make yourself publicly accountable in some way, it massively increases your chances of succeeding. This could be a coach, or a group, or online community, or just a friend.

Progress can be very incremental. I always say that people want to jump from A to Z but they forget about B, C, D and all the micro-steps in between. Set a goal of doing say 40 workouts over the next eight weeks. It doesn’t matter what the workout looks like – just show up. Make it a ritual and a part of your life.

Stop labelling foods as good or bad
Rather, become aware of why you are eating them and how they make you feel. We need to take the guilt away from certain types of food but are you eating it because you enjoy it and because it is a nice experience, or am I eating to escape or distract myself. Mindful eating is key. Focus on having two servings of green veg each day, some nuts and some berries – if you still want the ice-cream after that, go for it, but be mindful of how it makes you feel. My basic rule of thumb is that of there are a lot of ingredients on the label it probably isn’t going to make you feel good. Try stick to foods without a label – think fish, meats, vegetables – at least for 80 per cent of the time. Think about how our grandparents ate. We need to go back to that.

When it comes to training, it has to be something you enjoy
I can give you the best programme ever and force you into the gym, but it’s not going to work if you hate it. It shouldn’t be more stress on top of your daily life, it should be something you are excited by.

Switch it up
For people experiencing a slump or a plateau with their nutrition and training, I would be a fan of switching it up. There are different times in our life when we want to focus on our work, or our social life, and we can’t go a hundred miles an hour with our fitness the whole time. If you find yourself just going through the motions in the gym, then try to find something else that inspires you; it might be an adventure race, or learning to swim so you can do your first triathlon, or a white-collar boxing fight. My mentality is to set an almost impossible goal and it forces you out of complacency.

In conversation with Danielle Barron

Pat Divilly is involved with Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular, Ireland’s largest summer festival, which will take place in Cork’s Fitzgerald Park on Saturaday and Sunday, July 15th and 16th.