Many of us like to set New Year’s resolutions, and often vow to start exercising more or become healthier. However, on average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February and fitness resolutions, in particular, can be challenging to keep up. So, how can you maintain your fitness goals when the urge to stay in bed rather than jog to the gym on a chilly January morning is just so strong?
Often when you set out to find a new you, you lose the current you that works. What you’ve been doing up to now works for you. It may not have you in the shape you want to be in, but it works right now and it is keeping you alive. You should build on that slowly and steadily, rather than aspiring to create a whole new version of yourself overnight.
Research shows that it takes approximately 66 days to form a new habit, so as hard as they are to start, they can be even harder to keep. It’s no wonder people have often given up their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. A New Year’s resolution starts with such hope and promise, which is gone within a few weeks.
When creating your fitness resolutions, make realistic goals that take into account your current lifestyle. When you do that, your New Year resolutions become more about adding value to your life, rather than taking you away from the things you need to do day-to-day. For example, deciding you are going to work out every day if you have three children probably isn’t doable. You also shouldn’t be trying to go from zero-100 as soon as January hits. If you have never really exercised, that’s OK. It’s much more important for you to start off slowly rather than diving in at the deep end. Not only to maintain your New Year resolutions, but because you can cause more damage to your health if you push yourself too hard. A New Year’s resolution is a New Year’s resolution for a reason – it’s about implementing small changes and seeing an improvement over the course of the year, not changing drastically overnight.
Other tips to maintain your fitness resolutions
- Set small targets – for example, you could aim to run 5k by the end of January or even March, then gradually increase that distance each month.
- Buddy up – exercising with a friend or loved one can make you less likely to give up as quickly. You can motivate each other.
- Reward yourself – resolutions shouldn’t be all about constantly pushing yourself or taking things out of your life that you enjoy in the name of fitness.
- Schedule in rest days – you may feel motivated to head to the gym daily at the start of the year, but it isn’t good for your body to be without rest. Not only can pushing yourself too hard lead to failure in your resolutions, but it can lead to burnout or other physical injuries.
- Don’t beat yourself up – fitness resolutions are a marathon, not a sprint (sometimes literally). If you decide to stay in bed one morning instead of going to Pilates, there’s nothing wrong with that. Being harsh on yourself, especially if you’re someone with little history of exercising, won’t aid you in the long run. You have to be kind and understanding with yourself. Be your own cheerleader!
- Track your progress – you might do this with a written chart, or a fitness app. Seeing how far you’ve come already can really spur you on to keep going in those moments when you feel despondent.
- Set goals that are important to you – if you are emotionally connected to your goals, you can be emotionally connected to the outcomes. It can create a greater feeling of pride and achievement if you are genuinely invested in what you’re working towards, rather than simply doing what everyone else is doing.
Make sure the workout you choose to do is something you enjoy! If you are bored and exercising feels like a chore rather than an exciting new challenge, it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it. Get proper sleep and nutrition. Don’t punish yourself for having a down day – it’s normal.
Think of the tortoise and the hare – slow and steady wins the race. Consistency is key rather than diving in head-first, all guns blazing. Don’t get impatient with yourself; just trust the process and imagine that feeling of pride burning in you when you reach the end of the year and can look back at all the things you’ve done that you weren’t able to 12 months ago.