January is often termed the “Black Friday” for fitness centers because so many people rush to the gym with high hopes of knocking out the fitness resolutions they made on New Year’s Eve. This eagerness is commendable, but just a few months later, the 5 a.m. crowd has thinned out substantially. Statistics indicate that by the end of the year, only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions have managed to keep them.
Considering this pattern, is it even possible to achieve your new fitness goals? The answer is yes — if you set yourself up for success. Here’s how.
1. Do it for the right reasons –and for yourself.
If your reason for making better food choices and working out at the fitness center more is to meet someone else’s expectations – whether a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, your mother, or even a magazine ad – you’re setting yourself up for failure. Your primary motivation should always be to treat your body better with the purpose of improving your health and physical fitness for the demands of everyday life, which includes your family.
Second, do it for yourself –to feel better, have more energy, or maybe to be in good enough shape to tackle a physically demanding hobby. Together, these are the motivations that will endure and help you succeed.
2. Make it fun!
This tip can’t be said enough. Working out takes discipline and will always be hard at first, regardless of whether you enjoy the activity, but choosing something you’ll enjoy can make all the difference between a short-term attempt versus successfully integrating exercise into your lifestyle. Find something you consider fun, and you’ll be set up for success.
3. Create incentives.
Even if you enjoy the activities you choose, incentives provide a little extra motivation on those days it’s hard to stick with it. Your incentives will be unique to you, whether fitting into a piece of clothing or anticipating a special event. One caveat: don’t use food as an incentive. This sets you up to have a negative emotional relationship with “good” versus “bad” foods, and can leave you feeling guilty rather than celebratory.
4. Find an accountability partner.
Having someone to travel with you on the often-lonesome journey of prioritizing your fitness can make all the difference when you’re feeling discouraged or lose momentum. Friends can take turns motivating and encouraging one another when each person needs it most. Don’t underestimate the power of numbers!
5. Use all the tools and resources you can get your hands on.
If you’re new to fitness, it’s especially important to find the education and training to help you not only succeed, but avoid discouraging plateaus or even injuries along the way.
Thankfully, there are numerous resources available in your local fitness center, on the Internet, and through personal fitness apps on your smartphone and wearable tracking devices. Talk to experts, watch videos of techniques, participate in challenges, and track your metrics. The more you surround yourself with helpful tools, the greater your chances of success.
As the January fitness gym enthusiasm attests, it’s easy to start a resolution, but much harder to stick with it. By setting yourself up for success, you can be part of the 8 percent who are still going strong come December.