For most folks, New Year’s resolutions are taken (and made) with a grain of salt. No one really expects the person to follow through. Heck, even the person making the resolution probably expects to make it a month if he or she is lucky.
No, you don’t need the calendar to change to make a resolution, especially a fitness resolution. But it helps to have that event to help springboard healthy habits.
Nearly half of Americans make resolutions, but almost all fall short of their goals. This year, I’m taking a new approach to my resolutions and offering some advice for experts for how you can achieve your goals.
Why it’s so hard to stick to resolutions
Timing is everything
According to Katherine Milkman, a behavioral economist, when we make a resolution can make a big difference in whether or not we see that goal through. In other words, fresh starts do push us to change our behavior.
“I had a strong instinct that they’d be more effective at turning points—moments that feel like a new beginning,” Milkman said in a 2013 article for The New Yorker.
Among other research, her team of researchers analyzed Google searches for “diet” over the course of nine years and saw peaks at the beginning of the week, the month, and each year.
The largest peak? Jan. 1 of each year, when the term saw an 82 percent spike over the baseline.
With so many others trying to attain similar goals, consider starting your resolution at the beginning of the year for the biggest chance of success.
Another factor for failed resolutions is the loftiness of the original goal. If your goal is to lose weight or “get healthy,” experts won’t be betting on you in Vegas.
In a CBS News article, Dr. Stephen Graef, a sports psychologist, said, “I think we try to set not only too extensive of a goal but also too many goals. We might really try to shoot for the moon too quickly and that doesn’t work out, or not only do we want to go to the moon but we want to go to Mars and Neptune and Saturn. And if we try to do all of those, we don’t have the mental and physical resources to be able to accomplish that.”
Instead of saying you want to run a marathon after not being active for 10 years, Graef encouraged folks to focus on small steps. Commit to going to the gym every Monday. Get at least one mile in each week. Do five pushups each morning.
Over time, these small actions become habit. And once good habits are engrained, more challenging feats can be accomplished.
Nix the naysayers
Prioritizing health and fitness is not selfish. And if you have people in your life that make you feel that way, perhaps it’s time to examine your relationship with them and limit time or cut ties with toxic friends and family.
Chances are, people question your commitment to fitness are struggling with their own self-esteem and self-image.
More on this later in 2018.
Have a plan
You want to deadlift your bodyweight or PR your squat? Great. How are you going to do that? If your plan is to keep doing the same volume or continue doing the workouts made up by your CrossFit box, that’s probably fine for staying in shape. But if you want to improve, you need to figure out actionable steps to take to achieve those goals.
Talk with your trainers or coaches about your goals. They are there to help you.
Don’t have a trainer or coach? Find one. Don’t spin your wheels and decide six months into the year that you’ve missed your opportunity to achieve your resolution.
My resolutions for 2018
I’m taking a very different approach to my New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I could stand to lose five pounds. And I’d look smokin’ hot if I lost 10 pounds. But I’m between pregnancies (we say we want three) and I’m pretty happy with how my body looks after two kiddos.
There is no bad food
This one may have you scratching your head. With so much emphasis on “clean” eating and how carbs, sugar, and wheat are bad, I’m just over it. I’m tired of feeling guilty and beating myself up for wanting pizza or a donut.
No food is inherently good or bad. It’s there to nourish and give us energy. Sure, some do a better job of doing this than others.
But the disappointment I feel with myself for eating these supposedly bad foods is just as damaging as the food itself. So I’m taking a break for a while to see if I can get back to a less stressed approach with eating. My jeans will let me know if I’m overdoing it and I have enough experience now that I can correct and adjust if need be.
Try new forms of fitness
This one I’m pretty psyched about. I feel like lifting weights has given me a great foundation and confidence to try other forms of exercise in the New Year. I’m not exactly sure what I want to tackle, but trying a barre class is definitely on the list. I’d also like to get back to rock climbing to see if the strength I’ve experienced has had any impact.
Bag a peak
Last summer my husband and I bagged Quandry Peak (14,265 ft.) and this summer I hope we can connect on top of another summit. I’d love for it to be another 14er, but really any mountain will do.
Be active with my family
I want to climb, kayak, raft, rappel, surf, ski, and snowshoe with my kiddos. Of course, they’ll be turning 1 and 3 in 2018 and probably won’t be ready for these activities. But that doesn’t mean day hikes and maybe a car camping trip are out of the question.
I want to instill that sense of adventure in them as well as an appreciation for the outdoors. That starts from a young age and I cannot be too busy or too tired to see this through.
Okay, this is my pie in the sky goal for 2018. I want to be able to do this pose. I stink at yoga. I don’t have patience or inner peace. But seeing how strong this woman is, I want that.
When I asked a yogi friend of mine if she thought I could do this, she said, “Well, you probably are strong enough to do it.”
What she wasn’t saying was that what I may struggle with is the focus to truly attain this pose.
I think that’s what’s really important to me to achieve in 2018. Focus. Whatever the activity is — playing with my kiddos, writing a blog post, being with my husband — I want to fully commit and give it 100 percent of my attention at that time.
Here’s to a New Year!
Want more? Check out my predictions for health and fitness trends for 2018.