(As printed in Leland Magazine)
The New Year is upon us, bringing the opportunity for fresh starts and the important fitness resolutions that improve our health. Nearly 45% of all Americans will have made one or more fitness resolutions for 2018. Perhaps you know someone, or even you yourself, has made a fitness resolution for this New Year. Shockingly though, 92% of people that make a resolution will fail to achieve it. All that hope and desire to finally make that change, only to fail. Well don’t give up hope yet, below are the tips you need to be one of the 8% that actually succeed at keeping their fitness resolutions this year!
Know your “why” - Why have you decided to make your fitness resolution? This is a very important step. You must try to visualize how you will feel and how your life will be different when you accomplish your resolution. Write the goal and your why down. Be very descriptive so it is easy to visualize your success each time you read it. Put it places you will see it. Don’t put it in a drawer. Put it on your nightstand, your dashboard of your car, on your desk, on the mirror in the bathroom. Make it visible to keep the reminder constant. When it feels hard, you must focus on why you started and how you will feel when you accomplish it. A strong enough “why” will be bigger than every excuse!
Be Specific - Your resolution must be specific. It is not enough to just say lose weight. How will you know if you are successful? Will it be a successful resolution if you lose 1 lb by December 1st? I think it is safe to say…probably not. It would be far better to resolve to lose 20 lbs by September 1st and keep it off through the end of the year.
Be Realistic – You must be honest with where you are starting in comparison to where you want to go. And then you must determine a realistic timeline. To decide to lose 20 lbs is probably a healthy choice to make. However deciding to lose 20 lbs by February 1st, will not be the healthiest or most sustainable approach. And if you currently don’t exercise at all, don’t resolve to start exercising for an hour a day 7 days a week. Start with 2 days a week. Set yourself up for success not failure.
Have a Plan – now that you have a specific goal and a realistic timeframe, you will need a plan of how you will achieve it. The best plan will consist of many small doable steps. These steps should be easy to achieve, meaning you are highly confident that you can do them. Each step should directly move you closer to your overall goal…even if it is the smallest of steps closer. Be sure you celebrate the accomplishment of each of the steps, not just the end goal. Each of these small successes will build momentum. That momentum leads to consistency. And in the end, it will be the consistency that will bring you to the real results.
Find Support and Accountability – find someone that can help keep you on track and provide the support you need to stay committed. This can come in many forms. It could be an online group with similar goals, a friend or family member, a fitness professional (who can also help with the plan), or an actual local support group. When you know there is someone else involved that equally wants to see you succeed, it becomes harder to quit. Have your support system in place from day 1; don’t wait until you need it.
What a good resolution might look like:
I will lose 20 lbs of fat by September 1st and keep it off through the end of 2018. This means I need to lose an average of about ½ pound per week. I will start by adding 20-30 minutes of planned moderately intense activity each day. To help with this, each night before bed, I will lay out my clothes, have a scheduled time to complete my activity, and have a plan of what I will do for those 20-30 minutes. I will check my progress every 3 weeks and adjust my plan accordingly to stay on track. I am doing this because I want to be healthy to be around for my family for many years to come. I will tell my family of this goal and why it is important, so that they can be my support group and keep me focused.
The above is a slightly generalized, high level example. Your goals and the plan needed will be specific to you. But using the above tips and example will put you on the right track and improve your chances of achieving your fitness resolution this year. Best of luck and Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is your best year yet!