You Say You Want a Resolution? How to keep your New Year Fitness Fortitude from Fading by February
Resolutions are great if you can keep them – especially if you make them on New Years Day.
The failure rate varies, but the most popular estimate with psychologists sees about 80 per cent of New Years Fitness Resolutions abandoned by mid-February. That information isn’t offered as a discouragement. A commitment to getting into better shape is laudable – not just for yourself but for what it does for families, communities and health management nationwide.
Instead, we’d like to explore why those resolutions fail, how you can avoid the usual pitfalls, and how you can overcome – and maybe help change – the odds against success.
STEP 1: Practice goal control.
The number one resolution killer is oversized, oversimplified, over-ambitious goals. Envisioning yourself fitting into summer clothes by July might seem like supreme motivation, but as the once-distant accomplishment date closes in, your goal can seem farther away – even if you’ve accomplished some good things. That can cause you to fold your tent when you had it half-assembled.
Confidence coach Steve Errey says the big problem is blurring the line between resolving to do something and pursuing a goal with a specific deadline. Those outsized goals are common in the New Year, which can be a tough time to pursue them. Shifting too fast from a well-deserved year-end rest to a self-punishing flurry of activity can set you up for a classic case of “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Instead of finding satisfaction in the present, Errey says, you’re tormented by every little failure to achieve your anticipated future. That can undermine your self-esteem and make your commitment cave in
STEP 2: Positive and Pragmatic wins the race.
"You have to pick something you can start today and achieve," says Janine Hubbard, a psychologist and director with the Association of Psychology Newfoundland and Labrador. That could be walking an extra block or eating more greens with a meal. "That's what we call a smart goal," Hubbard says. "They're specific; they're measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound."
It’s always a good policy to look at these practices as adding something beneficial – like better sleep, a more positive outlook, and improved flexibility, respiration and mobility. If you take your exercise outside, you can also count the benefits of fresh air and learning to enjoy, not avoid, winter days. Sharing fun exercise with your family can bring you closer together and help your kids be more alert and energized as they go back to their studies. You won’t feel overtired or embittered about subtracting your relaxation time. In fact, you’ll be enhancing it with a satisfied sense of accomplishment.
STEP 3: Start off on the right foot.
Before you plunge into your new year’s exercise, make sure it’s right for you. A maintainable workout should be something that:
1) You can do,
2) You will benefit from
3) You can afford,
4) You have space and time for, and last but certainly not least …
5) You will enjoy doing.
Your doctor can define a lot of these. His or her knowledge of your abilities and limitations, specific areas that need work, and potentially helpful or hurtful movements is indispensable. Doctors can also help establish safe boundaries for challenging every muscle in your body, including your heart.
STEP 4: Work out a workout that works (for you).
Doctors aren’t usually personal trainers, so you may need more specific advice on which exercises are right for you. If you can’t afford your own trainer, you might be able to find some excellent instruction online. As with everything on the Internet, do your homework and make sure your source is credible. (Our Flaman sales reps are experts in matching individual customers with their best fitness options. Several have personal training backgrounds. They’ll be glad to help you separate fitness myth from reality.)
Deal in practicality, not outsized goals. There are plenty of “go hard” solutions for rapid weight loss and muscle development, but in addition to possibly being too much for your body – your post-Christmas body – they may also require time you don’t have.
It’s better to consider the life you want to live, not the impression you want to make. Instead of bulging muscles or a perfect summer bikini body, what you might really want is an exercise regimen that makes the things you want to do easier to do. If so, functional training – a type of training designed to enhance the strength and flexibility you use day-to-day is an option that will not only serve you better but will also produce results that are easier to perceive. And almost anyone can benefit from a brisk walk.
STEP 4: Equip yourself with common sense.
The rule of thumb for buying exercise equipment is the same rule that goes for everything above: Don’t go overboard! Every piece of cardio, calorie-burning or strength-training equipment is ideal for someone – yourself included. If you buy something meant for the elite athlete you wish you were, it will only end in abandonment, resentment, the use-it-as-a-clothes-hanger phase and the inevitable online/yard sale transaction netting you much less than you paid.
Keep your time, space, budget, goals and lifestyle in mind at all times. Several consumers already have – and manufacturers of cardio machines and strength-training equipment have responded with innovative options for a wide variety of consumer needs. Treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, rowers, specialized trainers, and even some weight sets now incorporate training programs to help you perfect your form and get optimum results in a limited time. There are also more straightforward options that can readily serve or supplement your training regimen.
Consider how a set of dumbbells or one adjustable dumbbell might meet your strength-training needs - or the wonders a pilates ball or yoga mat can do for your core. If you want to get some strength-building resistance training done while you’re on the road, consider a wide range of highly portable tubes and bands. Speed ropes can do the same for your cardio.
STEP 6: Measure carefully.
Measuring your progress can be a good idea if you keep it positive. Of course, accuracy counts – as it gives you a good idea of how much time and effort are required for specific objectives like losing five pounds, hitting your next lifting target, or lowering your resting heart rate. But you’ll also need to maintain your perspective – especially at the start when you’re wondering if good things will ever happen, and near the end, when your body gets extra-stingy doling out those little victories (“the last five pounds are hardest to lose.”)
Regularly weighing yourself, measuring essential areas (like chest, arms, waist and hips), and keeping a journal will keep you informed and on track. So will learning to regard occasional anomalies with curiosity, not alarm. It will also help you change direction when necessary. You’ll ultimately gain a better understanding of what you can achieve and more faith in your own choices. Is this blog becoming one of those “get to know yourself” pieces? Well, here’s a clue:
STEP 7: Get to know yourself.
One counter-productive assumption about fitness resolutions is that they’re about some kind of metamorphosis – about changing who you are. In reality, resolutions – at least, the successful ones– are about understanding your own likes and needs and removing the obstacles between you and them.
Respected behavioural scientist Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. says it comes down to two factors or “sciences.” The Science of habits supports Dr. Hubbard’s advice to make change an additive process, starting with small and manageable improvements and working your way up from there. But the second Science, the Science of self-stories, presents another avenue for improvement – changing the perception of ourselves (self-stories) that pre-determine where we will fail and where we succeed. The trick is recognizing the story we tell about ourselves then realizing how we can re-write it.
It’s tempting to believe the story about sitting on that couch, eating salty cheese snacks, is the true one. But if it was, why would the story about sweating and toiling even come up? It does because there’s something humans want more – not a miraculous transformation , but simply a deeper, truer enjoyment of life. Just remind yourself that this doesn’t come as a grand prize for completing some course of interminable suffering. If you pay attention, you’ll find it comes on you in small, rewarding ways throughout your journey. That’s how you stick to it.
Resolve to find expert advice at Flaman Fitness.
Visiting Flaman Fitness is an excellent first step toward keeping your better health resolution throughout 2021 and beyond. Our expert sales staff can help you make the equipment choices that will keep you on track and enjoying every minute of it!
- New Years Resolutions Don’t Work – Here’s Why - Steve Errey
- Most New Year's resolutions will fail in 6 weeks. Here's how you can beat the odds – CBC Nfld. & Labrador
- The Science of Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work(Psychology Today) - Susan Weinschenk Ph.D.