Three keys to maintaining your resolutions as the year begins
As another year begins, we see it as a fresh start. The new year is a time to reflect on the past year and set new goals for the upcoming 12 months. The most common goals often have something to with health, food, and fitness. Most of us start out the year enthusiastically, often applying our big goals for the year right away. You may be familiar with that "New Year Rush" most gyms experience, or how the produce section of the grocery store almost always feels packed during the first week of the year.
In 2013, Forbes Magazine published that only 8% of people achieve their resolutions. Here's a few tips on how you can be part of that 8%.
Start with the familiar.
Let's say you want to start walking everyday, but you aren't sure where to start. The best way to introduce a new habit or behavior is to group it with an existing habit. Rather than forcing yourself to walk every day, think of something you do already.
Do you walk from a parking lot to your apartment? Take a lap around the block before you go inside. Do you take the trash out every day? Take a 10-minute detour back to your front door after you've tossed the trash. Science backs this up as a more effective way to create new habits.
MIT published a report on this after recording differences in neuron activity when actions were performed together. This type of association becomes more easily integrated into a habit. Think about it like this: when a child is learning how to brush their teeth, we remind them every time to wet the brush, add the toothpaste, and brush. Over time, those three actions become so habitual it's almost impossible for us to do one without following with the others. The same can happen for you and your trash can trot.
Focus on the tree, not the forest.
As cliche as it may seem, it is something to keep in mind. We are well into the second week of January, and already you may have began noticing an occasional "slip" on the resolution. We begin to talk to ourselves with phrases like, I'll do it tomorrow and I'll have the energy to do that later.
We sometimes get so good at talking ourselves out of things, the resolution just fizzles out completely. This is often because we set large, unattainable goals for ourselves. By breaking large, broad resolutions into smaller and realistic goals, we have an easier grasp on it. This makes us less afraid to face the goal, and therefore makes us less likely to do it tomorrow when we know that "tomorrow" may never come.
For example, rather than deciding to lose 30 pounds this year, focus on something smaller. Set goals like losing 2-3 pounds every month. It still equates to 30 pounds, but when you put it like that, it's not so scary, is it?
Don't go at it alone.
Setting a new goal can be tough. It can be even harder if we feel like we don't have any support. Support doesn't only mean having someone to lean on. Support can come in many forms. This can be cleaning out your pantry to get rid of foods you don't like. Support can be listening to your favorite CD while taking a walk. Support can come in the form of hiring a trainer, or joining a new class. It can be grabbing a friend or loved one and taking a class together. Support can be creating shopping lists with your family or roommates, or finally dusting off that bike and taking it for a ride.
We can find support through our environment, our social circles, and ourselves. A great way to think about this is to realistically look at the barriers to your resolution. These can be anything!
For myself personally, one of my resolutions is to walk my dog every morning before I head in to see my clients. My barrier? Leaving my nice warm bed on these cold January mornings. How did I address this? Put a nice pair of slippers on the side of my bed, and set the coffee pot on a timer so I can have a warm cup o' joe right when I get up. These little actions can make a big difference in forming our new habits. Sometimes we can provide ourselves with the best support for our resolutions.
Have any questions? Looking into consulting with a trainer for some strategies? You're welcome to contact us at 805-845-7277 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a FREE consultation where we can help you set some goals for the new year, and join the 8%.
Julie is the program director and head personal trainer at Ageless Fitness. She focuses on wellness and health education with her clients and encourages the process of creating programs to be individual and informative.