Would you like to eat healthier, lose weight, or get in better shape? If so, you’re in good company! Research shows that nearly half of all New Year’s resolutions are health-related. This includes focusing on healthier eating habits, losing weight, and incorporating more activity into everyday life. Research also shows that almost twenty percent of gym memberships are sold in the month of January. However, by mid-February, almost half of these new members have already given up. Why is that? This phenomenon is not unique to physical fitness resolutions. Statistics reveal that over ninety percent of resolutions fail at some point within the year.
Below are five strategies that you can implement into your life to help keep you motivated and on-track to uphold your own resolutions throughout the year.
Five Ways to Succeed at Your Healthy New Year’s Resolution:
1. Be specific
“I want to lose weight next year.” It sounds like a nice thought, but the vague nature of the statement leaves you open to feeling directionless and to fizzling out when you don’t see concrete results. However, change it to, “I want to lose fifty pounds next year,” and you’ve given yourself a goal that you can realistically work toward every month. Likewise, instead of, “I resolve to eat healthier this year,” declare, “I will only eat out once per week.” A good plan for this kind of shift in eating is to prepare your daily lunch meals ahead of time. (Sunday afternoons are perfect for this!) Cook several servings of rice and vegetables and portion them out into three-to-five serving containers for your lunches throughout the week. This will help you stick to your specific goal of limiting your restaurant meals.
2. Create mini resolutions throughout the year
If the goal is to lose fifty pounds, track your progress by weighing-in at the end of each week and record the data each month. For example, short-term weight-loss goals could be: a five-pound loss by the end of January, a twenty-pound loss by the end of April, a thirty-pound loss by the end of June, and a forty-pound loss by the end of September. When you segment it this way, you are not focused on the big picture that may feel overwhelmingly daunting and too far in the future. Instead, energy is geared toward a reachable micro-goal and you are constantly approaching a new finish line. An added bonus is that each goal that is achieved along the way will boost your confidence and build motivation.
3. Give yourself realistic and achievable resolutions
If you have not run a half marathon since college, do not resolve to run a full marathon this year. Instead, start with the goal of a half marathon, being sure to give yourself realistic training goals along the way. For instance, complete a five-kilometer race, then a ten-kilometer race, and build yourself up to a half marathon. In this way, you can focus your attention and energy on lifestyle changes and learning to love running again, without feeling flooded with the stress and anxiety of achieving an intimidating fitness goal. If your training is going well and you end up running a half marathon by June, you can ride your momentum and increase your training toward a full marathon!
4. Know that you’ll encounter rough patches
Whatever health goals we choose, it’s inevitable that somewhere along the line we are going to deviate from our intended course. That cake and ice cream at your friend’s birthday party? That large, buttery popcorn at the movies? That weekend where you didn’t have any energy to get off the couch? There will always be detours along the highway of health, but the key is to ride them out and know that you can get yourself back on course. The important thing is to not let any detours you encounter turn into complete road closures. Try using positive self-talk to get through the tough times. When you know you are going to be eating unhealthily or skipping a workout, tell yourself that it is okay and make a deal with yourself that you will get back on track the following day. By making this brief detour acceptable, you give yourself permission to move through it without feeling like a failure. Instead, it becomes an expected detour and you’ve already anticipated the fastest route to get yourself back on the highway of health.
5. Enjoy the Journey
If the journey isn’t fun, you probably won’t feel the satisfaction of the destination. After all, you are resolving to make yourself a happier, healthier person. Happiness and health aren’t achieved by starving yourself and eliminating from your life all the activities that you love. Find fun ways to enact change in your life! Increasing exercise, eating healthily, implementing mindful practices, incorporating self-care, and increasing community involvement are all common resolutions that can actually be fun! If any part of a resolution starts to feel like a punishment or chore, tweak it! Change isn’t failure. Find a way to recalibrate your tactics so you can continue to enjoy the journey—after all, life is too short to be miserable.
If you really want to change, boost, or refine an area of your life, resolve to embark on a path of change that will get you the results for which you’re searching. Change rarely happens overnight, so create steady improvements in your life that will keep you motivated, accountable, and happy. Before you know it, another year will be ending, your goals will be attained, and the changes you made will have seamlessly become your new normal!