IT’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TIME, and if you’re like many others, meeting health and fitness goals and creating healthier habits for 2019 is on your list: a survey showed that 45% of Americans included “lose weight or get in shape” in their 2018 resolutions. Balance those good intentions with this dose of reality from the 2016 USA Today story “Is Your Gym Membership a Good Investment?”: “67% of memberships go unused.” There is a missing link then between desire and execution that isn’t filled by ponying up a membership fee or installing a treadmill in your garage or buying the latest “drop weight now” diet book complete with menu plan and recipes.
This is not because you’re weak-willed or not serious about your health or because you don’t really want to be healthier. It’s largely because most of us don’t set ourselves up for success when we set our wellness goals. Let’s change that script. These five strategies will help you make wellness resolutions that stick.
Five Ways to Make This the Year You Meet Your New Year’s Health and Fitness Resolutions
1. Have a Purpose
Why is your goal important to you? If you have a driving reason to reach a particular goal, you’ll be more likely to stick to keep with the effort. Your purpose doesn’t have to be grand, but it does need to matter to you. Do you want to build your endurance and strength because that will help you keep up with your kids? Perfect! Are you working on your squats and balance because you know that’s a critical part of fall prevention and independent living as you age? Excellent! Did you decide to run a marathon because they’re popular and your neighbor did one? You may want to rethink that one. How does that goal resonate with what you want? Is this really how you want to be spending your time and effort?
That said, making your goal an event and special occasion can be an excellent motivator. Maybe this year is your marathon year, or your half-marathon year, or your climb Mount Diablo year. At Body Balance, we’ve been focusing on obstacle course events and love the community that’s formed around training for and participating in those challenges as well as local running events. We welcome you to join us!
2. Start Small and Realistic
If you hate to get up early and you’ve never stuck with a regular fitness program, setting a goal of getting to the gym for an hour four days a week at 6:00 am beginning January 2 is setting yourself up for failure. Start with a small change that you know you can meet. It can be something really easy. Meeting goals begets meeting goals, so build some momentum to help you get to those more lofty ambitions.
If your goal is consistent exercise, start with, say, a 15-minute brisk walk as soon as you get home from work three times a week for a month, and build from there. Make sure to give yourself some personal high-fives for meeting your goals, no matter how small.
3. Make Yourself Accountable
Most people are as, if not more, motivated by other people’s expectations of them as they are by expectations of themselves. That is, most of us are more likely to show up for someone else than we are to show up for ourselves. That’s one reason why a personal trainer and nutrition coach are so helpful for helping meet health and fitness goals. So is joining a fitness class with a friend, creating a lunchtime walking group with coworkers, or even arranging to check in with someone who will make sure you’re sticking with your program. If someone else is relying on you to do what you say you’re going to do, chances are much greater that you’ll do it.
The added bonus of hiring a professional like a fitness trainer or nutrition coach is that they’ll provide guidance and structure—the plan of action—as well as help you set your goals and track your progress.
4. Make Your Goals Measurable and Specific
If your goals are vague and tough to gauge, it’s going to be all but impossible to know if you’re improving and when you’ve met them. Recognizing each time you make a step in the direction of your goal and the progress you’re making is hugely motivating, as is reaching the goal itself. It’s important to identify when these things happen.
So instead of “I want to be less stressed,” consider something like “I will meditate four times a week for ten minutes each time for six weeks” or “I will schedule a one-hour massage once a week for the next five weeks.” Or instead of aiming for a goal of “I want to eat healthier,” set your sights on “No sodas or candy for a month” or “No fast food or prepackaged meals for six weeks.”
Track how you feel when you embark on these lifestyle changes because that helps you connect your new behavior with whatever changes it brings about. When you learn to associate healthier habits with favorable results, you’re more likely to stick with them. This also goes the other way. If you’re making the effort to do something that’s supposed to be good for you but isn’t making much of any difference in your life, try something else. Find what works for you.
After you’ve come to the end of your month or six weeks or whatever timeline you’ve chosen, reboot your goals and go for more or, if what you tried wasn’t useful, switch things up.
5. Be Consistent, Not Perfect
If you’re working toward a long-term goal, or creating lasting change, “less but frequently” is better than “a lot every once in a while.” Health and wellbeing is the result of consistent, cumulative action. Running ten miles once a week instead of two-and-a-half miles four times a week isn’t going to do much beyond probably make you really sore and cause an injury. Even if you only have five minutes to, say, get your meditation in, but you’re supposed to do ten, you’re better off doing the five today instead of doing double-duty tomorrow.
If changing your diet is on your agenda, remember, it’s about making better choices most of the time. Don’t let one cookie lead to you chucking your entire plan to stay off sugar. Part of being healthier is making changes that become how you live. The more regularly you practice your healthy living habits, the more likely they’ll become a normal part of your daily routine.
Share Your Health and Wellness Goals with Body Balance
What are your 2019 wellness goals? And how can we help you achieve them? Try these strategies and let us know how they work for you. Did you find other approaches that helped you stay on track? Please share.
We’d love to hear about your health and fitness resolutions and about your journey to improved and maintained wellbeing.