How to nail your New Year’s resolutions, with fitness model Zanna Van Dijk

The Instafamous personal trainer tells you how to smash your fitness goals

As the New Year hangover fades and 2016 gets into full swing, there’s a good bet your “New Year, New Me” routine is underway.

Whether it’s a juice cleanse or a HIIT gym plan, chances are it’s going to be a great success – for a couple of weeks. Then, if last year is anything to go by, you’ll be back at home with a duvet covered in crisp crumbs and spilt Lilt.

Zanna Van Dijk is no stranger to unhealthy lifestyles – in her own words she spent her uni years “just eating pizza and having a bit of a party”. But when Zanna decided she wanted to make a change, she went all in.


Zanna on the cover of the Sunday Times Style magazine this weekend

Three years later, Zanna is not only a renowned fitness model and personal trainer, she also has around 70,000 Instagram followers and her own fitness movement, Girl Gains.

We spoke to Zanna about how not to give up on your fitness goals, even when February rears its ugly head…

Make simple changes

“If it’s a massive change, start by just changing one element of your day – like switching your breakfast to a healthy option, or switching your snacks out for healthier ones.

“Rather than going cold turkey, you can just focus on making one meal of your day wholesome and full of nutrients. You’ll see that it makes you feel good, and you can go from there.”

Brighten up your plate


“The best thing to do is to focus on getting colours on your plate – the more colours, the better. Different coloured foods have different things called phytonutrients, so the more colours you get on your plate the more nutrients you get.

“The easiest way to do that is to introduce more fruit and veg to your diet.”

Keep a diary


“Scheduling is key. Schedule in your workouts, and know exactly what your next day is going to look like. Set your alarm an hour earlier, or schedule in a gym session at the end of the day.

“You should treat your workouts like a doctor’s appointment – something you can’t miss.”

Tell your friends


“If you work in an office, a good way to keep motivated is to tell everyone else in the office what you’re doing. Invite them along, and if they don’t want to go then get them to make sure you do.

“That way, the people in your office are keeping you accountable. They can just go “Oh, I thought you were supposed to be going to the gym tonight?” and then you’ll probably be like ‘Dammit, I better go.'”

Snack healthier


“Try and switch processed foods for healthier options, so instead of having a processed snack have a healthy snack. Nuts and fruit are easy because they take no preparation, or maybe natural Greek yoghurt.

“I’m currently addicted to cottage cheese. I also love red peppers. I’ll just bite into a red pepper like an apple, even if it does make people in the street look at me weirdly.”

Set long-term goals


“Set yourself goals. If you just say to yourself: ‘I want to be fit in 2016’, that’s not enough. You want to set yourself something more specific, like: ‘By the end of February, I want to have lost 3lb’, or ‘I want to have run my first 5k’, or ‘I want to be able to do a 50 kilo bench press.’

“Set yourself a goal that has a longer time limit than a couple of weeks, something you can work towards for a few months at least. Hopefully by then you’ll be into the swing of it and you’ll want to keep going.”

Do it without technology


“I don’t tend to bother with apps. It’s better to make your own records – on my desktop I just have a little spreadsheet with all my goals written into it. Every time I open my laptop it’s there on my desktop saying: ‘These are your goals, what are you doing to work towards them?'”

“Music is a big part of motivation too, so get a good playlist and some good headphones that won’t fall out when you’re working out.”

Don’t give up


“Think about why you started. What are the principles you based these changes on? Obviously you started for a reason, so reflect back on why you’re trying to make these healthy changes.

“What you’re doing is obviously going to have huge benefits for you in the long-term for your health, your happiness and the way you look, so to just give up means you’re giving up on so many positive changes. Look back, reflect, and realise there’s no need to quit.”

You can follow Zanna on Instagram or YouTube, or check out her blog.