Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions


With the start of the New Year, comes the push to commit to and achieve one or more New Year’s resolutions. For many people these resolutions or goals tend to revolve around health and fitness. Year after year, many people purchase gym memberships in an attempt to get in shape, tone up, slim down, or some combination of those. Also people start the year by swearing off junk food, tell everyone they are on a “diet”, and make the attempt to eat better. A few people will stick to their goals and learn that health and fitness is a lifestyle and not a short term fix.

Most people do make an honest attempt and have the right intention to get in shape and eat better so that they feel better, but often something happens a few weeks or month in to the New Year and for one reason or another they lose their motivation and focus and their goals slip away. This does not have to be you, and it does not have to happen this year.

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, lose 15 lbs 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 lbs, but I will weigh myself perhaps once every one or two weeks. This shouldn’t be my only or even the 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 for 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 is one meal or one day.
If your goal is to lose 15 lbs 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.

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