Research shows that almost half of us will have given up on our New Year's fitness goals before we've even reached February. We've come up with 10 ways you can make sure you don't give up on your goal.
1. Strength in numbers
Setting up a training plan with a partner increases your chance of achieving your goal and makes your journey more fun along the way. Organising gym sessions and fitness dates together mean you’re less likely to quit as you have the extra motivation of not letting the other person down. With twice the motivation you’re twice as likely to succeed.
2. Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and have a Time frame. Saying that you want to 'tone up' or 'lose weight' won't get you anywhere as it's not measurable and you won't know when you've reached your goal! A better goal would be 'run a 5k in under 30 minutes by the summer' for example.
3. Understand the stages of change
The stages of change are a way in which we can monitor whether or not we are actually ready to achieve our goal. Before any major life change, we tend to go through 5 phases of thought, which ultimately lead to our end goal:
Pre-contemplation: At this stage, we’re unaware of any change we need to make and the thought has not even crossed our minds. At this stage of change, a result is very unlikely.
Contemplation: This is the stage where the idea is made. You’ve not committed yourself, you’re simply considering what effort it would take to make the specific change and whether this is something you are prepared to do.
Preparation: This is the stage where you’ve decided that you will change a habit, starting next month. So if you’re thinking about your New Year’s resolutions now, this is probably you.
Action: This is the good part, here you are consciously making the effort to change your lifestyle and achieve your goal.
Maintenance: Perhaps the hardest stage of all, this is where you may have achieved your goal, but you need to work at it to ensure you don’t revert back to how you were before. Mentally and physically, it is the hardest stage to be at, as we like to see noticeable results.
4. Break it down
With fitness goals, the easiest way to make sure you achieve your goal is to break one main goal into smaller, easier targets. For example, a SMART goal of 'deadlift 100kg by March' may mean aiming to increase your deadlift by 2.5kg per week. This makes the goal easier to digest on a day to day basis.
5. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated is one of the toughest parts of achieving a goal. Make sure you are realistic and give yourself a break. Fitness goals should be a lifestyle change, not a short-term fix.
6. How ready are you?
Make sure you are ready to commit the time and effort to the goal before you set yourself up for a fail. If, upon reflection, you haven’t got the time for your initial goal, why not downsize it to something more manageable? Achieving one smaller goal is motivating and will encourage you to go to the next. Failing is never motivating and will almost always leave you wanting to give up. Don’t let that happen by making your goal something you know you're ready to commit to.
7. Hold yourself accountable
Keeping a food and exercise log will help you see clearly whether you're on the right track and makes it difficult to cheat yourself. You don’t have to show anyone else, you just need to be truthful with yourself.
8. Share your goal
With social media, sharing your goal is as simple and as easy as a few clicks and once you’ve announced your goal to the world, you’re far less likely to go back on it! From progress pictures to Facebook groups, social media can be a great tool in achieving your New Year’s resolutions. According to a study published in Transnational Behavioural Medicine, strong social circles can be very effective in combating obesity and helping individuals succeed. When dieters participating in a weight loss study shared their plans and progress with others on social media, they lost more weight than those who kept their goals to themselves.
9. Track progress
The easiest way to track your progress for a fitness goal is to buy a fitness tracker. All-day activity trackers track heart rate, steps, and sleep as well as your workouts, making it easy for you to track data and see where you need to improve. Always keep a record of your starting point, be it a weight lifting PB, a run time, or a starting weight. Even if you are not happy with where it starts, you need to be able to see if you are progressing or not and so you’ll need a starting point.