The start of a new year is traditionally a time for many to make some New Year resolutions which usually includes a commitment to get fitter or to lose a few pounds by starting to exercise a bit more. Unfortunately, many resolutions fail for many reasons but with some simple strategies, you can increase your chances of succeeding and hitting those New Year goals.
Some studies show that 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail, with 25% of them failing within the first week alone. There are many reasons for this such as trying to change too much too quickly, not setting realistic targets, a lack of motivation, or just being put off by boredom, lack of support or apathy.
Many naysayers mock the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions saying they are a waste of time, but I think anyone making any commitment to improve themselves at any time of the year should be encouraged and supported, even if they may only last a short time. Doing ‘something’ is always better than doing nothing in my experience.
Even though many New Year resolutions don’t last long, it has been shown that setting goals at New Years means you are 10 times more likely to achieve them than setting them at other times. So, with this in mind here are some simple things you can do to help keep you on track and smash those New Year goals.
1: It doesn’t have to be that much…
Many think to get healthier they need to do huge amounts of long drawn-out exercise. You dont!
Just increasing your current physical activity by 30 minutes a day, by doing something as simple as taking a brisk walk, has been shown to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, neurological disorders and even some cancers.
In fact, some studies have shown you can get positive health benefits with even less time and effort! Just 10 minutes of low-intensity exercise 3 times a week, with just 2-3 short bursts of 10-20 secs of high-intensity effort, has been found to have significant beneficial health effects.
Increasing your physical activity also has a whole host of psychological benefits, such as improving your mood, and increasing your memory and concentration, and it is also guaranteed to improve your sex life*.
*Footnote: Results are not guaranteed, but it should at least give you a bit more stamina between the sheets!
2: Have a goal and a purpose…
Setting yourself a target is a great way to keep motivated, but knowing how you are going to achieve that goal and enjoying the process of getting there is just as essential.
Having a goal without a plan is just a wish.
Instead of just setting a target of running 10 miles a week, ask yourself how am I going to do that. It’s also important that you make goals that are both realistic and achievable.
One of the biggest reasons for giving up is when you just can’t see yourself reaching a goal you want. So start lower. If you want to run 3 times a week for the next 3 months… start with a goal of running just once a week for the first month. If you want to lose 20 lbs in 3 months, start with a goal of just 2 lbs in the first week.
3: Don’t expect it to be perfect…
Time for a little tough realistic advice. Losing weight and getting fitter is tough as fuck. If it was easy everyone would be able to do it all the time, and they can’t. Accept that this is not going to be a walk in the park and there will be times when it feels really difficult almost impossible and you won’t want to do it and it will feel horrible.
Some discomfort during and after exercise is to be expected and dare I say welcomed. This is perfectly normal and doesn’t mean you are injured or broken, it just means your body is adapting to the new demands it is being exposed to.
Of course, too much pain and soreness after exercise is unpleasant and will limit you from doing any further exercise, which is good as its is one of our body’s amazing ways to self-regulate and protect us from doing too much too soon and so it should be listen to, within reason
You don’t have to be completely free of soreness before another session of exercise. In fact, if you do wait to be fully pain-free before your next session of exercise, those adaptions you earned may be lost and you may have gone back to square one.
So expect a little discomfort from time to time and crack on!
4: Progress sensibly…
Your body is remarkably robust and adaptable regardless of its age, shape, or size. It can withstand a shit load of stress and strain without any major issues, and it can accommodate more as it is exposed to more of it.
However, sudden increases in stresses and strains that occur too often, for too long, without sufficient time for recovery can cause problems. Unfortunately, there are no clear guidelines to follow when it comes to deciding what is the safest amount of exercise to do due to the vast variation in people, types, durations, frequencies, and intensities of the exercises we do.
There are many different programs and plans available to follow that are believed to be best for beginners, and I think some structure is a good thing, but sometimes I see people getting injured because they follow these programs far too religiously. So as mentioned before be guided by your own feelings but again don’t expect it to be completely pain-free.
5: Variety is essential…
Regardless of what activity or exercise you have chosen to do, do another one now and then. If you want to run more, great, but lift some weights now and then instead of going for a run. If you want to get stronger, great lift weights, but go for a run now and then. If you want to do yoga, great, but go play some tennis now and then.
What I am basically saying is don’t always do the same thing all the bloody time, for the sake of your body and mind. As they say, variety is the spice of life, but it’s also good for your body to experience different movements as forces as well.
6: Don’t be so serious…
Setting New Year resolutions is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not a chore or punishment. If you are too super focused, hyper-vigilant, or overly anxious about your resolutions they won’t last long.
Remember the whole point of a New Years resolution is to kick start some change that you are going to do for the rest of your life. This is a marathon, not a sprint, recognise that you will miss some sessions and targets from time to time and that’s perfectly ok.
7: Don’t hit the ‘fuck it’ button
When you do fail along the way, and you will, dont hit the ‘fuck it’ button, and give up completely. Recognising failure is part of the journey and accepting it, learning from it, and then putting it aside and carrying on, is one of the key components to success.
Also don’t expect it to always be fun, exciting or enjoyable. In fact, there will be more times when it feels dull, boring, and downright painful. It’s these times when you can not rely on motivation but rather you need to fall back on your discipline and determination. If everyone only exercised when they wanted to, no one would achieve anything.
So there you have it, a quick look at some solutions for your resolutions. I hope that it has given you some ideas and enthusiasm on how to stick with any goals you have for the New Year.
I will finish by wishing you all the best with your resolutions whatever they may be, and please don’t let any naysayers or knobheads put you off, and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!
Thanks for reading