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Fitness and Study: training to become a “fit learner” to achieve your goals

by Elizabeth Holmes

Have you ever planned to eat really healthily, stuff your face with a whole block of chocolate and then tell yourself; “tomorrow I am going to wake up really early and go for a run, so it will be fine”?

Morning comes and you are still in bed!

Now, students: have you ever planned to study for two hours, then watch your favourite TV show instead and then tell yourself; “tomorrow I am going to wake up really early and do my assessment, so it will be fine”?

How did that assessment go? It probably wasn’t even looked at!

My name is Liz, I am a Learning Support Officer who has spoken to thousands of you students trying to help you become effective and self-sufficient learners. Sometimes it is really hard to give you the tools and motivation to keep you moving forward in your studies. But I have found that I see the best progress when I share my story of my 47kg weight loss.

Liz Holmes

What does my weight loss have to do with your study?  Well, I have found that my descent down the scales mirrors what I did as a student back in the day.

To lose as much weight as I have, I needed to:

  1. Have a goal – I had to ask myself where I wanted to be in life. How did I want to look? How did I want to feel about myself? I then had to set myself weekly and monthly goals, because the more realistic they are, the more likely you are to achieve them.
  2. Get support – You can’t start any journey without knowing how you are going to get there. I joined a personal training gym that not only educated me about exercise, but also what foods are best for me. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
  3. Make a plan – “A failure to plan is a plan to fail”. That quote might get thrown around a lot, but it’s true. Every Sunday morning, I sit in bed and plan out everything I will eat for the week ahead, and what exercise I will be doing. It’s a weight off my mind (pardon the pun) knowing what is in front of me. It prevents anxiety (and snacking).
  4. Do the work – All of the previous ground work would mean nothing if I didn’t wake up at 4:30AM (you read that correctly) to get to the gym, or if I ate a croissant for breakfast instead of an omelette. You only get out what you put in.
  5. Reward your results – Due to following these steps, I am enjoying the fruits of my labour (whilst eating fruit). Every time I hit a goal, I treat myself. I buy a new dress or five, I treat myself to a nice dinner with friends, or I plop myself in front of the TV for an hour. And I can do all of these things guilt-free because I know that I have put in the work.

So with those steps, I learnt to be fit and YOU can become a “fit learner” by following them as well:

  1. Have a goal – First of all ask yourself: why am I doing this course? Where do I want it to take me? That big goal is so important, but what I find even more vital are the smaller, weekly ones. These will keep you on track. So set yourself a weekly, monthly and an overall course goal.
  2. Get support – Are you scared to get started? It is absolutely normal. If you need help, put your hand up! Book in an appointment with Learning Support. We will help you go through the website, set you some time management goals and even explain assessment questions out to you. You can’t move forward if you don’t know where to begin.
  3. Make a plan – Set aside fixed times where you WILL study! Break them up into short, sharp sessions, like 30-60 minutes (rather than a 4 hour slog). Put these times into a diary or a planner that you will look at daily. If you know that the kids will be hungry at 7pm on a Tuesday night, don’t book in a study session at that time. Be realistic, make it work for YOU, that way there will be less excuses, less guilt and fewer reasons to avoid studying.
  4. Do the work – If you have booked in a 30 minute study session at 3pm, well, STUDY. I know that episode of Ellen DeGeneres sounds tempting, but record it or watch it online later. For that study session, set yourself one small goal, such as reading a certain amount of pages in your textbook, going through your notes, or doing two assessment questions. Choose something that you know is possible to achieve, this will boost your self-confidence.
  5. Reward your results – Once you have hit a big milestone such as completing a written assessment or a Study Period/Module, reward yourself with something you enjoy. Have a day off, go for a run, watch a movie or simply have a nap. If you treat yourself kindly and do something you like, you will associate studying with feeling good. You won’t have that guilt when you’re binge-watching your favourite TV series because you know that your assessment has been sent off for marking.

Step 4 is definitely the hardest. But how good will you feel after you have sent in that assessment? Just as good as I feel after going for an early run on a cold, winter’s morning.

Studying, like getting fit, isn’t meant to be easy. If it’s too easy, it probably: 1. Isn’t worth it or 2. Will not get you where you want to be. Put in the hard work, get yourself into a routine, reach out for help when you need it and finally, be kind to yourself. The results will speak for themselves.

Now, go forth and flex those brain muscles!

Need a little more help?

If you’re still struggling to get on track, you can contact our learning support team through OpenSpace – log in now to get in touch.

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