Part 1 of 4: Creating a Fool-Proof Road Map for Success
Does your New Year’s resolution sound something like one of these?
If so, you’re not alone. According to Statisticbrain.com, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and 38% of those are weight loss-related. Two of the top 10 resolutions are related to fitness and staying healthy, and one of them is to fall in love. For many people, losing weight plays a key role in feeling confident enough to get into a relationship so that they can fall in love.
But how many people do you think actually achieve these resolutions? As important as getting fit appears to be to Americans, the obesity epidemic and widespread dependence on drugs for a variety of health ailments suggests that most people don't keep those resolutions. In fact, only 8% of people actually keep their resolutions.
Why is that, and what can make this year different? How can you be the exception to the statistic this year and reach your goal, happier with your body at the end of the year than when you started it? Can this be the year that you finally drop those 20 pounds, or bench press more than your buddies, or see muscle definition in your legs and arms?
This four-part series will provide specific, simple solutions to common hang-ups that prevent you from keeping your resolutions and achieving a better body and lifestyle. Stick with us through this series and put these tips into practice, and you'll be on your way to reaching your fitness goal for a happier, healthier life in 2017!
STEP 1: Choose a Specific, Attainable Goal
To begin, let’s start with a road map to get to your goal, as well as some ideas for New Year’s resolutions in case you’re struggling to pick one.
Do you ever use an app Waze or Google Maps to get you to a destination when you’re driving? If so, you know how incredibly useful they can be in getting you to your exact destination quicker and with less frustration. Even if you take a wrong turn, they keep you on track with new routes. But what if you enter a vague location into these apps? If you enter a location like “Big Bear Mountain” or “Orlando, Florida”, they’ll still give you directions, but you may end up far from where you ultimately want to be, because the destination is too broad. It may give you a longer route because you didn’t enter a specific location where you’d like to end up.
Similarly, if you pick a goal like “lose weight”, you may never get where you want to go, or veer off course and take much longer than planned. Part of the reason many people fail to keep or attain their goals is because they’re too vague. What does “lose weight” really mean? Lose 5 pounds or lose 50 pounds? Those are very different and will require different “directions”.
You need a specific goal or “location” you’re trying to reach in order to attain it in the quickest time frame. Specifics will help keep you motivated, and know when you’ve succeeded. For instance, don’t say you want to “get stronger”. Instead, define what that means. Do you want to be able to do a pull-up, or carry groceries easier, or bench press 150 pounds?
This will also help you determine how long the goal will actually take. If it generally takes four weeks to significantly build your strength, then you might get discouraged after week two when you haven’t increased the weight on any of the exercises you’re doing. Then you’re more likely to give up, feeling that your effort and time are futile. But if you already have the expectation that you’ll need four weeks to lift 10 pounds more than you do now, you’re more likely to stick with it, knowing that you need to try to increase by just 2.5 pounds per week.
Additionally, pick a goal that is truly attainable. Even if you want to lose 60 pounds, is that reasonable in one year for you? If it feels like too big of a mountain to climb, start with 20 pounds over six months and go from there. If you set the bar unreasonably high, you may never be able to reach it. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Ideas for New Year’s Resolutions
With that in mind, here are some New Year’s resolution ideas to improve your physical abilities and aesthetics that are specific and reasonable enough that you can actually keep them:
Get the idea? Now choose one (or more) of those goals or pick one of your own that will help get where you want to be. Write them down, and make sure they have a specific number and deadline.
STEP 2: Define Your Reason & Motivation
Let’s take it a step further. A goal is great to have, but without a meaningful reason behind it, and a strong level of commitment, it’s easy to quit when things get hard. Now that you’ve chosen a goal, take some time to think and write down WHY you want to achieve this goal.
Why does it matter to you? How will it improve your life if you do it? How will it hurt you if you don’t?
Need some help? It may look something like this:
Once it’s written down, take a few minutes to think about your resolution. Is it truly attainable with your lifestyle? Are you willing and ready to make the necessary changes to achieve it?
Ponder what sacrifices and intentional habits you’ll have to set for success. If cooking more meals at home will take up more time, where will you get that time from? Can you cut out 30 minutes on Facebook to meal prep? Are you willing to sacrifice a few hours with friends during the week, or wake up an hour earlier each day to make it to the gym?
If you expect ease, your resolution won’t stick. Mentally prepare for what it will take so you can make a commitment and be ready to deal with the challenges.
You may want to add to your note, and definitely your daily planner, when you’ll make time for your goal. If you want to go to the gym three days per week, then put it in your schedule before you even start and don’t let anything else get in the way of that time. If you want to drink more water, then give yourself five extra minutes each morning to fill up multiple water bottles to keep with you at work so you’ll see them and plan to bring them home empty.
Now, place your written goal and motivation on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, at your desk, or anywhere you’ll see it often so you’ll be reminded multiple times throughout the day.
STEP 3: Get Help & Accountability
Having a goal you can see and be reminded of is important. However, even then it’s easy to slip up or make excuses, which is why having some sort of accountability can be hugely helpful. If you’re committed to achieving your goal, you should be willing to let someone ask you about how things are going and push you when you’re unmotivated.
A few ways to do this are:
You’re much less likely to skip a workout or make poor food choices if you’re doing it with a friend or group of people. Even better, hiring a trainer or coach can help is ideal if you can afford it because they can both instruct you on how to get to your goal and keep you accountable.
A set appointment that you’ve paid for is much more likely to keep you accountable and motivated. Plus, if you take classes or have a trainer, you don’t even have to think about what workout to do or when to go, which leaves more mental capacity for other things.
Now you should be ready to start working toward your fitness goal. Make sure to check back for Parts 2-4 for get more specifics on how to lose weight, build muscle, and eat healthier this year!