By Jonathon Stavres PhD, ACSM-EP-C
People across America have made New Year’s resolutions to start eating right, start exercising, and get back into shape.
For a lot of those people, this isn’t the first time they have made a resolution. Unfortunately, by March many new gym-goers will have left their exercise routine and returned to replacing their workouts with pizza and television.
This won’t necessarily be because they just weren’t motivated enough, but instead, because they weren’t prepared when they started. Undertaking a complete lifestyle change is not an easy task, and without the right preparation, it can be very easy to fail.
Here are a few ways to prepare and stick to your resolution this year.
First and foremost, make a New Year’s resolution, and not a New-Year’s list of tasks.
For example, a resolution should read something like… “this year, I’m going to be healthier and return to a healthy weight”. It should not read like… “this year, I’m going to work out every day and cut my calorie intake in half.”
While I won’t argue that daily exercise is good, it doesn’t always support maintenance in an exercise program. Instead, focus on a long-term and a more general goal. This gives you something to continue to work towards.
Give yourself variety.
Exercising every day will surely help you lose the weight you want to lose (depending on your eating habits), but that doesn’t mean that it will motivate you to stick with it. Therefore, don’t just change one thing and hope that it leads to achieving your goal. Give yourself a number of options that can keep things interesting.
For example, start by going to the gym and shaking off the rust; then join some recreational sports leagues, Zumba, or cycling groups. Maybe even give yourself seasonal options. This way, as one season ends, you can start looking forward to the next season’s activity. This will likely help you bridge the gap between winter and spring, which is where we see most people fail.
Set multiple small goals.
You may have one overarching goal (i.e. get a certain weight, get fit and stay fit, etc.), but that shouldn’t be all that you look forward to. One way to set small goals is to aim to be at a certain weight by the end of each month, or each season.
This will also help you monitor your progress as you move towards your main goal. Another way to tie this to the last point is to try competing in sports that you haven’t competed in before. If you’ve never played soccer, try joining a novice recreational soccer league.
That is a goal you can set for a season, and the following season you could try to join another competition. If you are near a university, there will be plenty of pick-ups or intramural leagues to choose from.
Have a plan for when you struggle.
No matter who you are, there are days when you just don’t want to go through the hassle of going to the gym or you just really want to order your favorite pizza.
As a human, you have to allow for mistakes. What you need to avoid is letting those mistakes derail all of your progress. Therefore, if you are going through a slump, have a preset plan for getting out of it.
This could be something like having a workout partner who will help motivate you or even giving yourself a couple days off before regrouping and getting back to your routine. No matter what it is, it’s important to prepare for some small failures on the road to success.
Your New Year’s resolution should help to define the new person that you want to be in 2018, but it shouldn’t restrict you to only getting to that point by one path. Hopefully, these tips help you reach your goals this year. Go for it!
*Before starting an exercise or nutrition regimen, consult with your physician and/or healthcare provider and registered dietitian.
**For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
Get $35 off Lean & Clean meals from Sun Basket!
Sun Basket is a healthy meal delivery service offering organic and sustainable ingredients and easy recipes delivered to your door weekly.