“I’m going to work out at the gym five days a week.”
“I’m going to lose 25 pounds this year.”
“I’m going to drink diet shakes for breakfast.”
Sound familiar? These are just a few examples of the kinds of New Year’s resolutions people often make yet fail to keep. New Year’s resolutions related to eating right, getting into shape, and exercising are extremely common, especially since people tend to pack on the pounds during the holiday season.
Making resolutions is easy, but keeping them is the hard part. People start the year out feeling fired up about their fitness aspirations, but their passion quickly fizzles. Making long-term lifestyle changes based on New Year’s resolutions is rare. According to John Norcross, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, only about 19% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually stick to their vows for two years. In other words, if you succeed in keeping your New Year’s fitness resolutions, you’re in the minority.
Be realistic and flexible when setting New Year’s fitness resolutions. Despite your best intentions, life can and will get in the way of you reaching your fitness goals. For example, you may have to work overtime in the office for a few days in a row and not have enough time to complete your workouts on those days. That doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Take it easy on yourself if you have a slip up or your routine is interrupted. Just pick yourself up and start over again while staying focused on your end goal. Tomorrow’s a new day!
Set Measurable Goals
One of the best ways to ensure that you’ll keep your New Year’s fitness resolutions is by setting concrete, measurable goals. For example, if you set a goal to exercise at least twice a week, you’re more likely to follow through with it. On the other hand, if you set a vague goal, you’re less likely to attain it because you won’t have any way to measure your progress.
Furthermore, avoid setting overly difficult goals, like running a marathon if you haven’t gone running in 12 years. You’re more likely to keep your New Year’s resolutions if you start small. Even exercising for just 10 minutes a day to start with is far better than not starting at all or giving up mid-way because you pushed yourself too hard.
Boredom is a surefire way to guarantee that you won’t keep your New Year’s fitness resolutions. If you hate doing pushups, don’t make it your goal to do 50 pushups a day. You can keep your workouts engaging and challenging by trying new things and adding variety to your exercise regimen. For example, you can try out a new fitness program like CrossFit, go dancing, or go rollerblading to spice up your exercise regimen.
Track Your Progress
Whether you start to lose a few pounds, your “skinny” jeans fit you again, or your backaches disappear, take note of any improvements you notice! You can remind yourself of all of the wonderful benefits you’ve experienced since embarking on your fitness journey whenever you’re lacking motivation.
You should also break up your New Year’s fitness resolutions into short-term goals. For example, if your end goal is to lose 50 pounds, break it up into five short-term goals of losing 10 pounds. That way, you’ll be able to set milestones, track the results of your efforts, and stay motivated.
Find a Buddy
Find a friend or family member who’s willing to buddy up with you in setting a New Year’s fitness resolution. You and your buddy can motivate each other and hold each other accountable, so you’re more likely to reach your fitness goals.
Celebrate Your Successes
Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, by treating yourself to something special whenever you reach a milestone. This doesn’t mean you should gorge yourself with chocolate cake if your goal is to lose weight. Pick a treat that doesn’t contradict your New Year’s fitness resolutions.
Behavioral Change Beats a Wake-up Call
Motivating yourself to change your lifestyle is tough, but would you rather go through the challenging process of behavioral change or wait till a health scare forces you to lose weight and get fit? If you develop a fitness plan and start following it now, you could avoid facing health scares altogether.
New Year’s resolutions often get a bad rap because most people fail to keep them. They are like false promises that people make to themselves because they feel guilty about the way they’ve managed their lives. That doesn’t mean making New Year’s resolutions is worthless, however. Changing your health and your life for the better is possible, so if you’re serious, start today. Better yet, start right now. It takes approximately three weeks to form a habit, so if you can stick with your exercise routine for at least that long, you’re more likely to make it through the year with your resolutions intact.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.