December 29, 2015
You’ve seen it happen for years on end – come January, everyone you know renews their gym membership as part of their New Year’s resolution. Sadly, most people fall off the wagon within weeks. However, these eight tips will help keep you on the wagon all year long!
Being jazzed about getting fit and healthy in the New Year is great. But keep it real. Don’t set a goal that’s so intense it’s destined for failure as soon as you’re out of the gate. Rather than resolving, say, to “lose 50 pounds by spring,” simply resolve to “eat better and move more.” Or, instead of prepping for a marathon, simply plan to drop a dress size or pants size by the time the good weather rolls around. Self-improvement is all about baby steps.
Not literally. Formalize your resolution in a document that you can print out, sign, keep in a drawer, and use as a reminder of the commitment you’ve made to yourself. Think of it as a pact with no one else but you, in which you can outline what New Year meals might look like, what your exercise schedule could be, the reasons you’re making these resolutions in the first place, and the ways in which your life will be better when you keep them. You’ll find looking at this contract to be motivating in times of temptation.
If an exercise or fitness regimen is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, remember that most folks find it much easier to stick to workout schedules when they’re doing it with a friend or in a group class. It’s not so much that misery loves company, but rather the fact that there’s strength, motivation and positive reinforcement in numbers.
Whether it’s an annual gym membership, a set of weights for your basement, or a new yoga mat, there’s something about spending money that makes a New Year’s wellness resolution more of a commitment. It psychologically “obligates” you: if you abandon your resolution, you’re not just disappointing yourself, you’re throwing money away.
And don’t be thrown by them. Will there be evenings you have to work late and can’t go to the gym? Will there be times when your child is sick and you can’t get to the market for fresh vegetables? Will there be rainy Sundays when you just want to make French toast and crawl back into bed? Yes, yes and yes. But those are the ups and downs of life -- not reasons or excuses to abandon your wellness resolutions.
If weight loss is one of your resolutions, don’t think of eating better in terms of all the things you “can’t” have – chips, cookies, ice cream, pasta, etc. This causes a glass half-empty perspective and can be discouraging for your commitment. Instead, look at the glass as half-full, and marvel at all the wonderful foods you can have – luscious winter fruits from Florida and California, fabulous whole-grains you’ve never tried (everyone is eating farro now!), and creative salads that have come a long way from iceberg lettuce and a tomato wedge.
Is it something you really want? If it is, you’re more likely to stick to it and make it happen. Don’t make vague health or lifestyle vows just for the sake of making them. A resolution needs to be about changes you truly want in your life.
One of the biggest sources of discouragement, and causes for New Year’s resolution abandonment, is that they layer-on too much. Anyone who goes into the New Year planning to quit smoking, lose 30 pounds, go 100-percent vegan and win the Ironman Triathlon all in one fell swoop is asking for trouble. Focus on one thing – not a fantasy menu of ways to overhaul your life.
Bottom line in all of this: We’ve all thrown up our hands in frustration at the end of January after our New Year’s resolutions have come to naught. Don’t let it happen this coming year.