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How to stick to your New Year's fitness resolution

A new year presents new opportunities for us to push ourselves further and reach our goals. Creating a New Year’s resolution can give us a sense of determination to see our goals though and become happier and healthier. If you’ve set yourself a New Year’s resolution in the past and feel as though you’ve failed in achieving it, you’re not alone. In fact, according to YouGov, around a quarter of Brits didn’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions in 2020. With many resolutions typically surrounding health and fitness, what can we do to stick to the goals we set? In this article, we’ll share some tips to help you stay on track.

Why New Year's resolutions fail

There are several reasons why a New Year’s resolution could be designed to fail, including:

  • You put too much pressure on yourself with an unrealistic goal in mind.
  • You’re not making a New Year’s resolution for you - for example, you might decide to lose weight to gain praise from others, not because it will benefit your personal health.
  • You try to do too much too soon and overwhelm yourself.
  • You don’t build a new habit for you to continue a healthier lifestyle.

These are just a few of the reasons why you may fail to keep your promises for the year. 

 

Now, let’s take a look at some ways you can ensure you stay on the right path…

Top 10 tips on sticking to your New Year’s fitness resolution

1. Ensure you’ve set a SMART goal

By now, it’s likely that you’ve already set your New Year’s resolution, but is it realistically achievable? If you’re worried that you’ve set the bar too high, it’s not too late to revise your resolution to make it more manageable. Even if you’ve already spread the word on your big plans, it’s perfectly fine to revisit the goal you set for yourself so that you can reach it. Remember, the resolution is about you and your health. By starting small, you can get into the practice of becoming fitter and challenge yourself further when you’re ready.

 

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This means that they give you a meaningful goal to target which you can track and reach within a certain time frame. Find out how to set SMART goals here.

2. Take time to plan each week

By scheduling in time for exercise and planning in healthy meals for the week, you’re more likely to do it, as you’ve already allocated this time for yourself and are prepared. This is particularly important for those who have extra responsibilities such as children to care for, as it can be difficult to find time to suit your busy lifestyle. If this is something you can relate to, why not take a look at our blog on how to exercise when you have no time for some tips?

3. Remind yourself of why you’ve made this resolution 

Whether you want to lose weight because you’re worried about your health, looking to lose weight or you’re hoping to become fitter to keep up with your kids, you should make note of your personal reasons for change. It’s important for your reasons to be significant for you to help keep you motivated and you should try and remind yourself of these reasons as often as you can. For example, you could write the reasons for your New Year’s resolution on sticky notes and place them around your house where you can see them each day. 

4. Keep a fitness journal and track your progress

Try keeping a diary and logging the following:

  • The type of exercise you’ve performed and how you felt before, during and after completing it (don’t forget to also include the dates and times of your workouts too).
  • Your meals each day (along with calorie intake if possible) - whilst your New Year’s resolution may be fitness-based, it’s important to understand that maintaining a healthy diet alongside exercising will help you to reach your goals; exercise and dieting go hand-in-hand and ensure you’re in good health.
  • Your weight each week (if weight-loss is your New Year’s resolution). 
  • Your mood and how you are finding keeping to your new fitness regime.

 

5. Celebrate each success and reward yourself

If one of your resolutions is to lose weight, celebrate each pound you shed; if you’ve taken up running and you’ve run your usual route in a quicker time than usual, share your progress with others; or, if you’re finally able to be more active with the family, why not take a trip somewhere and reward yourself by trying a new activity together? However you choose to recognise your achievements and reward yourself, try to ensure you make healthy choices. For example, rather than buying a takeaway after losing some pounds, why not treat yourself to new workout gear? You shouldn't be too strict on yourself and the odd ‘unhealthy’ treat won’t be detrimental, but by rewarding yourself with healthy treats or experiences, you can stay on track.

6. If you slip-up, don’t be discouraged

Whether you’ve missed a day at the gym, overindulged at dinner-time or have gone a week or two without sticking to your fitness regime - don’t be too hard on yourself. Realistically, you’re going to have days where you can’t follow your exercise plan or find it difficult to motivate yourself to get up and active - this is okay. You shouldn’t see these ‘slips’ as defeats and should instead, acknowledge that you’ve fallen off track but understand that you can easily get back on track and head in the right direction. Sticking to a new routine will take some getting used to.

7. Be patient 

It will take time for you to see results, so don’t expect to see noticeable changes right away or be disheartened if you don’t feel any different or drop pounds right away. A fitness resolution should be something you can continue in the long term as it will have many benefits for your health (including giving you more energy, improving your mood and reducing the risk of artery disease to name a few). If your expectations are realistic, you will be more likely to remain positive and stick to your new regime.

8. Get support

Firstly, it can be really beneficial for you to share your New Year’s resolutions with your family and friends. Not only could you inspire them to join you in your mission to become healthier, but they can offer you their support to help you reach your goals. Aside from getting loved ones involved, you could actively join a fitness group where there will be people with similar goals to yours to engage with. Not only will this present a healthy social opportunity, but you’ll be encouraged by others in the group to keep going! You can also consider seeking support from healthcare professionals, such as LiveWell Dorset who have advisors and coaches on hand to guide you, whether your goal is to lose weight or to generally become more active and healthy.

9. Form fitness habits

When you begin to ramp up your fitness regime, or even try working out for the first time, it can feel quite alien to your body and extremely challenging. The more you exercise and eat healthy foods, the easier it will become, as our brains become more used to these new actions. If performing a thirty minute workout is something you do each morning, you can make it become a habit, rather than something you’re consciously thinking about (and potentially dreading!). That said, it’s important to understand that it takes time to form a habit. A study featured in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009 found that it can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, depending on individual factors and the nature of the new behaviour. 

10. Don’t rely on feeling motivated

When you feel a rush of motivation, it really helps you to take those first steps in reaching your goal and continuing to work towards a healthier lifestyle. That said, you’re likely to have days where you lack any motivation at all and struggle to get yourself up and active.Motivation is often a short-term feeling, so relying on experiencing this rush where you want to try your best can ruin your chances of seeing success. Instead, you need to focus on developing your habits and creating a ‘new normal’ so that fitness becomes part of your routine and not something you only engage with when you feel like it.

 

If you’ve been struggling to find the motivation to get active, why not read our blog on how to motivate yourself to workout for some inspiration?

Need help with keeping your New Year’s Resolutions?

If you live in Dorset and you’re looking for some motivation or help in getting more active and sticking to your fitness-related New Year’s resolutions, you’ve come to the right place!

 

You can register with us today or get in touch with us to find out how we can help. With professional advisors and coaches on hand to support you, you can learn new ways to stay motivated and reach your goals.

Georgina

"In January 2019, I was five stone heavier. Now, with the weight loss, parkrun and netball, my anxiety has improved tenfold."

View full story

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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