Ryan’s guide to reaching New Year fitness goals

Need some January inspiration, look no further

Written by Ryan Mangan


“Procrastination feeds the voice in your head telling you horror stories.” – Pat Divilly

As a cosy December draws to a close and marzipan sits – yet again – untouched in our bins, the time has once more arrived for that New Year spark of determination to burn the wick. It’s now time to make our celebrations much less about the chocolates. It’s hard to pin-point exactly how this New Year, New Me craze ever came into existence, but I guess it’s human nature to want to create something great out of a blank canvas the January rain clears for us. Like any piece of work, however, making even the slightest mistake en route to our goals can mean falling off track completely; when we think the canvas no longer has the potential to be perfect, we get lax.

Amongst all of the knocks I’ve taken on the road to my goals, I’ve also learned one or two helpful things which have restrained me from falling off track since. I’ve also gathered some awesome tips from a man well worth listening to!   


Finding an anchor

If you feel your will power isn’t strong enough to pull you toward your goals, you can find many great anchors elsewhere.

The biggest obstacle I’ve encountered in following fitness goals, is slowly losing the self-disciple that excitement had given me in the beginning. I feel now that a brilliant solution is to commit to some form of friendly race en route to your goal. A few months ago, I signed up for the Pieta House 100 charity cycle which rekindled my wavering determination. As a way of putting the social into exercise, marathons and charity cycles are also a great way to give back to some admirable causes.

Another thing that really helps me keep on track of my goals is my healthy food blogging through Instagram. It’s very encouraging to know that there are others keeping up with my progress and cheering me on when my own encouragement isn’t enough.

Why choose a fitness goal?

The reason I’ll be setting fitness goals this January, over everything else, is because I think they can be the first step to a better lifestyle across the board. When we focus on our fitness, we will inevitably watch our diet. When we improve both of these together, we eventually notice an improvement in our emotional wellbeing; we feel more positive; more organised; more confident.

 As a student, it can be tough finding time for exercise, but regardless of how important your education may be, nothing is worth the stress, anxiety or fatigue that it can provoke. Even if you feel like you’re falling back on assignments, I really suggest dropping everything and getting your heart pumping for an hour or two. You’ve no idea how many times exercise has made me realise I knew more than I thought I did about college material.


In order to reach our goals, it’s important we surround ourselves with the right environments and mindsets.  As college students, one way to do this is by making sure our housemates are on board with our goals and won’t pose a threat to our routines. If your goal involves fitness, try to find somebody close to you with a similar goal; finding a dedicated training partner can offer a fantastic support system.

If you aren’t so lucky with this, perhaps be less rigid with your own goals in order to keep up your self-motivation. This could mean chunking a long term goal into three or four shorter ones which you could use as stepping stones towards your final goal.


The proper nutrition is vital when it comes to fitness; the importance of regeneration foods after working out cannot be stressed enough. Fuelling your body with the junk food that comes easily to us students will only wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling drained.

I recently sat down with Pat Divilly, one of Ireland’s leading transformational coaches to talk fitness, nutrition and mindfulness; he taught me a lot of helpful stuff! I asked Pat about some of the best fitness complimenting foods he’d pick up on a student budget of around €50 a week and sweet potato, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, porridge, mince and plenty of fruit and veg were his essentials. As a hectic college week awaits, it’s very helpful to batch cook a lot of your meals during the weekend. Check out Pat’s YouTube channel for a lot of great recipes.

Mindfulness and moderation

When it comes to reaching goals, it’s important not to feel over-pressurised when doing something; otherwise, you’re likely to fall off track and into a cycle of wrong choices. If it’s all becoming too much to handle, it’s important to take breaks, revise some things about your routine and find a means of refreshing the drive that got you going in the first place.

Headspace is a free mindfulness app with a mission of offering a life of less stress, more sleep and better focus, and after hearing Pat speak so highly of it, I tried it out and couldn’t believe how relaxed I felt after only one session. It goes without saying that making use of the app during times of stress and struggles would really help with getting things back in order.


As with anything that requires effort, procrastination becomes the devil on our left shoulders. As Pat put it, it’s the voice in our head telling us the horror stories about failing at something we set out for. No matter how doubtful you may feel at first, just remind yourself that the first step is a step closer to where you want to be. Rub off your left shoulder and challenge those self-esteem issues. The more you work the lesser they become and its only confidence that can take charge then.

Make Instagram count

One of my top motivational fitness accounts is run by medicine student, Eimear, offering free fuel for our focus. It has all the nutritional info you’ll need to compliment your workout routines and keep you on track; she throws out brilliant healthy, balanced and affordable meal ideas on the daily, with the power to make anybody dribble onto their phone screen.

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