This year, I’m going to lose 60 pounds before swimsuit season. I’m going to go to the gym five times a week. I’m also going to stop eating carbs and sweets. Sound familiar?
According to reports by WebMD, over 100 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year; the most popular being losing weight, eating healthier, getting fit, and quitting bad habits. However, less than half of the people that start New Year’s resolutions actually stick to their goals six months later. Moreover, according to a 2006 study done by Time, over 60 percent of people who sign up for gym memberships go to the gym less than five times a month, sending the price-per-visit sky high.
Below are some tips to make sticking to your resolutions a little easier and a lot more successful.
Ease Into a New Lifestyle
The reason many people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions is usually because they hope to make an extreme lifestyle change in one day. To stop a bad habit cold turkey is near impossible and also completely unnecessary. You’re probably still recovering from all the amazing food you’ve been eating over the past couple of holidays, and it’d be cruel to start eating clean and healthy altogether without giving your body time to adjust. You don’t need to clean out your entire pantry and refrigerator of anything with the words carbohydrates or sugar in their labels. Instead of trying to make a complete 180 so suddenly, take things slowly. If you’ve been eating unhealthy 7 days of the week, trying planning for at least 1 or 2 days of the week where you eat lots of vegetables and lean meats. As the year progresses, you can try increasing the number of days where you eat healthy foods. This way, the change won’t be so shocking to your body and mind.
Stop Setting Yourself Up for Failure
The above principle can also be applied to going to the gym. If you are one of the many who have been going to the gym less than 5 times a month, it’d be wise to not set a goal such as going to the gym 5 times a week. Though the goal is admirable, you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure. The more you set yourself up for impossible goals, the less hope and determination you will have to succeed. Be realistic when planning your resolutions. Imagine yourself as a boss of a company. You wouldn’t expect an intern or a new hire to work as well or as efficiently as a seasoned employee, would you? And if he or she makes a mistake, you also wouldn’t fire them right away. It usually takes months, sometimes even years, to adapt and adjust, and sometimes mistakes are just lessons to be learned. If you If you’re following up on a past resolution, try analyzing why you couldn’t achieve it before. Were the goals just too extreme and unrealistic?
Make a Plan
If your resolution is to go to the gym and eat healthily “X” amount of times a week, write a detailed plan on how you are going to achieve this goal. Many people try to take on huge resolutions head on without ever figuring out how they plan to succeed. This usually makes their goals seem unattainable, and they end up giving up before they even started. Figure out what changes you need to make in your life to make it to make your resolutions a success this year. The changes must be tangible, realistic, and flexible. For example, you shouldn’t make a goal like, “I will go to the gym every day at 5 after work.” The goal is too strict and doesn’t give much wiggle room. What if you have to work overtime or have an appointment to make? You will end up not going to the gym that day and feel horrible and guilty about it. Then you will find yourself missing out on more and more days you “promised” yourself you would go. Before you know it, your procrastination and guilt will have snowballed and you will just end up giving up and planning for next year.
Do Something You Will Enjoy
Another one of the most common reasons people don’t stick with their resolutions is because it’s too taxing, difficult, and boring. Many people think the only way to get fit and healthy is to go to the gym, run on the treadmill and lift some heavy weights. When we see a Gatorade or Nike commercial, we usually get an image of an athlete with an intense, scowling facial expression drenched in big beads of sweat. You don’t have to compare yourselves to the athletes in the commercials. If you hate treadmills, stairmasters, ellipticals, and weights, find another activity that is more appealing to you. There are more ways than one to get your heart pumping and your body moving. A class like kickboxing would be a great outlet to relieve some pent up stress. If that’s too physical for your liking, maybe try tango dancing with your spouse. These classes usually have a weekly schedule that you can follow as well. As obvious as it sounds, the more enjoyment you get out of an activity, the more you will want to do it again.
Also, be sure to check out Pete’s feature in this month’s issue of O. Pete gives plenty of advice on how to stay strong and live long.
Happy New Year, Everyone!