The presents have been opened, the mashed potatoes and pie (and cookies and wine) have been eaten, and your pants are feeling a little snugger than before the holiday season rolled around. It’s that time of year again when you recommit to a healthy lifestyle, but how are you going to make your fitness goals stick this year?
Some ideas for making it stick:
- Set both short and long term goals. You may want to lose 50 pounds, but setting that as your only goal right out of the gate is bound to bring heartache. Try breaking your larger goal down into a series of smaller goals, say, lose 5 pounds, ten pounds, and so on. You’ll feel much more accomplished if you’re achieving goals right from the start.
- Set non-weight loss goals. Weight loss may be your ultimate goal, but setting goals that are more easily achieved, such as taking three thirty minute walks during the week, taking one Zumba class before the end of the month, or buying a new pair of exercise sneakers, will keep you feeling successful and happy.
- Set specific goals. Instead of “join the gym,” try “join the gym by January 3rd.” Instead of “do some strength training,” try “hire a personal trainer by January 15th for at least three sessions and ask them to teach me specific strength training exercises.” The more specific the goal, the more likely you are to actually do it.
- Nix all or nothing thinking. Are you the type of person who is either pedal-to-the-metal or couch potato? That won’t help you get fit. Instead, be kind to yourself if you miss a workout session. Instead of beating yourself up, make working out the next day a priority and move on.
- Get a buddy. Not sure you’ll hold yourself accountable? Set fitness goals with a friend and make a pact to keep each other motivated. Can’t think of anyone? Hire a trainer to make sure you do your workouts and are making progress.
- Make a spreadsheet. Do you love crossing things off a list or tracking your achievements? Use Google docs or Excel to make a spreadsheet of exercise plans for the next month and check them off as you go.
- Make an appointment with yourself. Write your exercise sessions into your day planner or the calendar on your phone. Do not double book yourself! This is your time to get healthy and sweat.
- Set up rewards for yourself. Instead of punishing yourself when you don’t do something, try rewarding yourself for doing what you set out to do. Have a larger reward set for your long-term goal, such as a new wardrobe, weekend vacation, or spa day. Little rewards for week-to-week goals are great, too. Try buying yourself a new nail polish if you make it to the gym three times this week or a good gossip magazine for eating a green vegetable every day. Do not give yourself the rewards if you don’t take the actions first!
- Tell people about it. Make sure some of your friends and family know about your goals. Tell people who have a history of supporting and encouraging you (and skip telling the relative who always tries to sabotage your diet with extra slabs of cheesecake). Ask the supportive folks to check in on you about your goals, and make a point of telling someone about your progress every week.