How to Set New Year Fitness Resolutions That Actually Stick
Did you know that most people don’t keep their New Year fitness resolutions (like exercising more or losing weight) past the first three months?
And in 2018, only four percent of people reported sticking to all of their goals for the new year.
While these stats might seem discouraging, they don’t have to reflect your future. In fact, the reason most people “fail” is because they’re going about their resolutions all wrong.
This year, we’d recommend shifting your mindset around what it means to set a resolution for the new year. That includes thinking long-term about how you can maintain your goals over time.
Why Is It So Hard to Keep New Resolutions?
Setting and sticking with a resolution means understanding why so many people fail. From there, you can shift your own goals to avoid common pitfalls.
Here’s what people are getting wrong about adhering to new goals:
Not Being Specific Enough
One of the biggest reasons for failed resolutions is being too vague.
For example, someone might say they want to “lose weight” or “go to the gym more” starting January first. But what does that mean, really?
Vague statements make it nearly impossible to track progress or hold yourself accountable for the change you want to see. Instead, you need more specific goals about what you want to change and how you’ll do it.
Too Much Negativity
You also get in your own way in how you think about your resolutions.
Maybe it’s “forcing” yourself to start that workout when you don’t feel like it. Or white-knuckling a “no” to those donuts a coworker brought into the office.
Both of these scenarios revolve around a negative view of a positive health change, which just makes it all the more difficult to sustain the change.
Seeking Validation Over Self Interest
It’s human nature to want to fit in. But when we let others’ opinions slip into our goal setting, it can set us up for failure.
Many resolutions fail because they are based on what other people around us want or expect — not what we actually want or care about.
Going Big or Going Home
Maybe you've heard the statistic that 80% of diets fail. There's a reason for this:
Many diets are too extreme to be sustainable, and they aren't enjoyable in the slightest.
The same applies to New Year's resolutions that are too ambitious. They have to be realistic so that you aren’t quitting altogether after a couple of months.
How to (Actually) Keep Your New Year's Fitness Resolutions
Now, based on what we've learned above, here's a guide for how to keep New Year fitness resolutions. Run your new goals through each of these points to ensure you’re set up for success.
Think Smaller Rather Than Bigger
December 31st approaches, reminding you that another year has gone by lacking healthy eating or fitness habits. It’s normal to feel extra motivated during this time, setting big goals for what you’ll do better next year.
But remember that the bigger the goal, the more effort you’ll need to give to sustain it — at least until it becomes a habit. You’ll set yourself up for success best by making resolutions you can actually keep for 12 months and beyond.
For example, if you want to exercise more often in the new year, think about how many days per week is realistic. Saying you’re going to work out 6-7 days a week might feel great, but if you’re starting from zero, maybe exercising three days a week is more doable.
It’s better to begin small and build from there than sprint out the gate so that you inevitably crash and burn.
Smaller goals will provide more immediate successes instead of entirely overwhelming you.
Get Specific About What You’ll Do
Instead of something vague like “I want to work out more,” make your resolution specific. You might say you’re going to “strength train three days a week for 30 minutes.”
Also, create a plan for when you’ll do your workout, such as before work or right after work. And stay flexible (within reason). For example, if you have to deal with a sick child one morning or work late one evening and miss a workout, you can move it to another day but still meet your goal of three workouts per week.
Short-term vs. Long-term
It also helps to have a timeline for your resolution goals. Think of what you want to achieve short-term, long-term, and in between. Setting small goals throughout the year will make things less daunting instead of one big resolution. You’ll even enjoy the process!
Know Your "Why," and Hold Onto It
Why do you want to lose weight? What’s your motivation behind getting more active and building strength? The answers will show you your “why.”
According to psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, new changes should reflect what’s important to us personally. Our goals should be for ourselves and our unique situations.
For example, maybe Susan’s “why” behind exercising more is being able to play with her grandkids and be present in their lives as they grow up. David’s “why” is to have more energy to work, spend time with his spouse, and travel the world. Celeste’s “why” is improving her physical and mental health.
Your “why” will remind you why you’re making a change and keep you going with it.
Let Your Bad Habits Inspired Good Resolutions
If you have bad habits you want to change, you’ll need to replace them with new, better habits. According to Harvard Health, it comes down to the three “Rs”:
- Reminder: the trigger that prompts a behavior
- Routine: the action you take
- Reward: what you get from the behavior or action
For example, maybe you’re used to driving home from work, plopping down into your favorite chair, and watching whatever looks good on Netflix.
The “trigger” is coming home and seeing your chair waiting to greet you. The routine is relaxing in front of the TV with junky food. And the reward is the relaxation and stress relief you get from doing nothing and eating.
But this habit has prevented you from working out after work, and you often stress-eat whatever’s in your kitchen cabinet as you unwind from the day.
To change this and meet your New Year’s resolution to work out at least three days a week, you avoid the trigger by setting out your at-home gym equipment and workout clothes the night before. Instead of going to the living room, you head straight to your workout area when you get home. You could also drive directly to the gym after work before coming home.
This action (exercising) provides a de-stressing reward, and you can look forward to relaxing afterward. Suppose your resolution involves eating better, too. In that case, you could come up with a plan for replacing unhealthy snacks with equally delicious, healthier ones or eating a nutritious dinner right after your workout.
Focus on What You’re Gaining (Not Giving Up)
Many New Year health resolutions fail because the goal-setter is focused on what they’re losing. Instead, reframe your mindset to focus on what this resolution brings you more of.
Exercising and eating well brings you more energy and keep you feeling great. Remember these benefits and the reasoning behind your “why” for making a change.
You’ll start to look forward to your workout time when you concentrate on the positives. The same goes for healthy eating — find healthy, enjoyable replacements for the food you want to eat less.
Recognize That Building Habits Takes Time
It takes time to develop unhealthy behaviors, and it will take time to replace them with better ones. Science shows it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to establish a new routine.
Even small changes can feel like a slog at first. You have to build the habit, and then it will feel routine and become easier to carry out. So, don’t expect things to feel effortless right away.
For example, maybe you want to start working out first thing during the new year. Getting up early to complete a workout before your day starts will feel hard at first. You’ll probably meet resistance. But over time, it will become second nature, and you’ll even miss it if you skip a day.
Thankfully, at-home workout equipment like the Gorilla Bow makes it easy to get your fitness in faster and more conveniently. Jump out of bed and power through a great workout. After a while, you won’t have to think twice about it.
A Realistic New Year's Resolution Template
If your head is spinning a bit, let’s break it down simply. Ask yourself the following questions about New Year’s changes:
Also, remember to give yourself grace throughout the year. Things never go exactly as planned, but that’s where a great New Year’s resolution is powerful. It’s about being flexible enough to make positive changes around the unexpected nature of life.
The old saying, “progress, not perfection,” applies here. Resolutions that stick are about small changes and steady actions over time.
Fitness-Related New Year's Resolution Ideas
Seeing examples of resolutions can help you create your own. Here are some basic ideas for brainstorming. Just remember that you’ll need to tailor the specifics to your own needs and goals.
Have you heard the wisdom of “don’t drink your calories”? If so, you might want to cut out unhealthy drinking and replace it with something better.
Maybe replace that afternoon soda with sparkling water. Or replace that Starbucks drink with a black coffee or homemade latte made with oat milk and sugar-free sweetener.
Run a 5K
A 5k run is realistic for most people, and you can start training for it immediately. This is one of those resolutions you’ll want to break down: how often will you train each week, and when?
Eat Fruits or Veggies with Every Meal
Want to eat better this year? Resolve to have fruits or veggies with every meal or snack. It’s an easy way to get in more nutrient-rich foods while staying flexible.
Have 1-2 Vegetarian Meals Per Week
On the same note as the above resolution, another way to eat more produce is by having more vegetarian meals. Vow to make one or two lunches or dinners each week meat-free.
Sleep 7+ Hours a Night
Sleep is vital for good health, and it has an enormous connection with diet and exercise. According to the Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep affects:
- Muscle recovery between workouts
- Muscle strength
- Exercise safety
- Healthy versus unhealthy food choices
- The risk of health conditions like heart disease and diabetes
- The risk of obesity
Aim for at least seven hours, even if you have to work up to that slowly.
Move Your Body at Least 30 Minutes a Day
Even if you don’t do an intense workout every day, simply planning to do some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes will get you moving more.
This is an excellent resolution to have for all year, even when you’re traveling. Tools like the Gorilla Bow Travel Lite make it easy to bring a complete workout with you anywhere.
Start Working Out in the Morning
Morning workouts give you more energy to take on your day and prevent you from putting off exercise until you’re too tired to start.
Drink at Least 11 Cups of Water Each Day
The “drink a gallon of water a day” advice is not strictly correct, but most people still don’t drink enough water. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that the best daily fluid intake is:
- 2.7 liters (or about 11.5 cups) per day for women
- 3.7 liters (or about 15.5 cups) per day for men
Use these numbers to set goals for drinking more water this year.
What Are the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions?
What are other people choosing to focus on in the new year?
Here are the top resolutions for 2021, according to Statista:
- Exercising more or improving fitness
- Losing weight
- Saving more money
- Eating better
- Pursuing a career ambition
- Spending more time with family
- Taking up a new hobby
- Something else
- Spending less time on social media
- Giving up smoking
Exercising more or improving fitness won by a landslide, as about 50% of people chose this as their most important goal for the new year.
These are great goals to have. Who doesn’t want to get healthier and feel better? But we must frame them in the context of everything above so that they become long-term changes.
Get Ready to Crush This Year
“New Year, New You” is about more than what changes on the outside. Think about what will work best for you long-term and keep your mind and body in sync.
At Gorilla Bow, we have you covered with the ultimate full-body workout gym arsenal. Check out our Bows to discover the life-changing power of resistance training this year.
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