With the start of the New Year comes the yearly push in setting a resolution and vowing to stick to it. A good number of New Year’s Resolutions revolve around quitting something, losing weight, or getting in better shape.
Reality Check – The majority of people fail every year, only to do the same thing the following year.
This does not need to be you. Not this year. Not ever. Before setting a New Year’s Resolution, let’s first understand why we fail at ever achieving them.
Reasons New Year’s Resolutions are not achieved:
1. They are impulsive decisions. How many of us feel like a Yule log after a week or two of “holiday eating” and swear that right after New Year’s we are going to exercise, lose weight, eat better, etc., etc.? Been there done that?
2. We set our sights high with the best of intentions, but in reality have no clear plan how we get from where we are to where we want to be.
3. We get sucked in by the external gimmicks – gym memberships, weight loss programs, dvds, diet supplements, . . . all guaranteeing results in little time with little effort at great prices. However, once you shell out the money for such products, the promised support and “group effort” mentality soon disappears and you are left to navigate on your own.
4. We create a fitness, weight loss, or improvement plan and see results early on, but then the results slow down or stop and we continue the same plan until we get frustrated and quit completely! Oh well, better luck next year!?
Making it all Work
All of those reasons listed above are very valid reasons as to why fitness goals fail at any time during the year – not just at this time of year. Maybe one or all of those sound familiar. Those reasons are reality and nothing to feel bad about.
The keys to achieving your New Year’s resolutions or any fitness and health goal must be based on a serious commitment to change or improve upon something and creating a clear plan or roadmap to get from point A to B.
First there is no reason to wait until New Year’s to start your goal. For many this just becomes an excuse to continue or exaggerate non-productive behaviors.
Before setting a goal, think about what you really want to achieve. This shouldn’t be something you WISH you could do, but something you WANT to do. It also shouldn’t be a spur of the moment idea or something you agree to do because someone else wants to do it. If you are not serious and committed to working toward the goal, then don’t make it your resolution because you will fail.
Road Map to Success
1. Set a larger goal. This is a long-term goal you may achieve in a month, a year, six months, by summer, etc. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon, or lose 15 pounds, or workout 4 days a week, and you have never done these things before then these are great long-term, achievable goals.
2. Break your long-term goals into smaller parts. Once you have established your long-term goal, you must, yes MUST, break that goal down into smaller parts. If my goal is to eat better and lose weight; that is a very vague goal. How do I do that? If I eat an apple and don’t lose weight can I say I tried and quit? I need a clear plan of how I am going to reach that goal. Eating better means 5-6 small meals per day, choosing healthy foods, and adding exercise to my routine perhaps 3 days per week. That is more specific. I can create lists of foods I am willing to eat, start planning and preparing meals, setting a workout plan and then following through.
3. Monitor progress through smaller goals. Given the above example, I might have a long-term goal to lose 15 pounds, but I will weigh myself perhaps once every one or two weeks. But that is not my only, or best, way to check progress. How my clothes fit, what changes am I noticing in the mirror, how do I feel, is my exercise program getting easier – are all excellent and accurate ways to monitor progress.
4. Write it down. Small successes will provide motivation for continued success. By tracking your progress you will be able to see where you started, where you are, what is and isn’t working and make adjustments to continue making progress moving forward. Writing it down – and being honest about it – adds an additional layer of accountability to yourself.
5. Reward yourself for success, and accept setbacks as temporary obstacles. This is a tough one on both sides of the coin. Even as a competitive, natural bodybuilder, I schedule meals or days where I will eat without regard to the nutritional content. Mentally it is a great break from the constant disciplined eating plan, and physically it gives my body a reward and eases cravings and such. Knowing that I will splurge and have delicious, non-nutritious, foods every so many days keeps me mentally focused. My long-term goal is not in jeopardy and so I can work on the short-term goal of eating clean for a set time frame before taking a short break whether it be one meal or one day.
If your goal is to lose 15 pounds and you have lost 3 but notice your pants are loose in the waist – that’s progress and a success. Celebrate the positives, your body and mind will thank you.
Likewise, things come up that interfere with your goals. You planned to get to the gym after work, but last minute you had to work late, or the kids schedule created a conflict, you got sick, etc. These things happen. Understand that there will be setbacks but it does not mean the whole plan is ruined. Be flexible. You may need to adjust your plan at times but don’t beat yourself up if you miss one workout, meal, etc. Focus on sticking to your plan and work around interruptions.
6. I will add one last tip – strength in numbers. If you have one or more friends who are equally committed to the same goal then team up with them, encourage and support each other to achieve your goals. This only works if the other team members are just as serious as you.
This year, make your New Year’s Resolution be a time for real, lasting change. It is never too late to start. Start now. Follow these guidelines, monitor your progress and adjust your plan to continue moving forward toward your goals. Stay focused, celebrate the positives, and have a safe and wonderful New Year.