1. You’re setting the bar too high, too quickly
New Year’s fitness resolutions are a December 31st mainstay. After all, being overweight in the age of Instagram feeds full of beach-bodies, fitness models, and socialites doesn’t exactly do wonders for one’s self-esteem. Celebrity trainers backed by thousands of dollars in advertising are touting programs left and right that promise to get you shredded in “six weeks or less!”. Brand ambassadors with perfectly sculpted backsides are pushing nutrition plans that guarantee you’ll give Kim Kardashian a run for her money just by squatting and drinking protein shakes. Social media being the lucrative self-promotion platform it is, a myriad of half-truths and misconceptions about fitness and self-care persist.
Making fitness resolutions on a rigid time-frame is a recipe for failure. Since everybody is different, what might get someone shredded in six weeks might take you six months. Or maybe less. Since our fitness is partly determined by our genetics, metabolism, and body-type, it’s important to stay consistent and on-track until you find what works best for you. Setting unrealistic standards for yourself based on a fitness competitor’s ‘before-and-after’ will only leave you frustrated and disillusioned; and nowhere closer to meeting your New Year’s goals.
2. You’re rewarding yourself too often
It’s human nature to want a reward when you believe you’ve performed exceptionally. Fitness goals are no exception. While it’s perfectly healthy (and encouraged by many PTs and nutritionists) to indulge on occasion, rewarding yourself too often can sidetrack your progress. It’s easy to brush off that second-helping of pizza or that third glass of wine with the self-promise of working it off the following day. Reward yourself too often, and you’ll find no amount exercise will give you the muscle tone and definition you’re going for.
New Year’s resolutions centered around fitness don’t always fail due to procrastination. More often than not, they fail simply because we let ourselves get away with too much. If and when you choose to indulge, keep it light, keep it brief!
Which brings me to my next point…
3. You’re not reading ingredient labels
Sugar isn’t a controlled substance, but perhaps it should be. While there’s still some debate as to whether sugar is as addictive as cocaine, one thing is certain: Limit your intake. Food companies find sneaky ways to add more sugar to their products in an effort to get them to taste better. Don’t make assumptions just because something is listed as ‘non-fat’ or ‘100% natural’. Read and double-check ingredient labels to make sure you’re not consuming unhealthy amounts of sucrose.
Better yet, avoid processed foods all together. Eating clean does wonders for raising more awareness about what we put into our bodies. Of course, this approach isn’t always practical, and sometimes we do have to reach for a packaged snack or two. Nevertheless, be mindful of nutrition and ingredient labels to spot the hidden sugars. Ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and maltose should be avoided at all costs. They’re all just variations of plain’-ol refined sugar.
4. You’re not sweating
We get it. It can be difficult to get into the habit of working out regularly. While building up a sweat isn’t exactly the most glamorous experience (no matter what the fitness models would have you believe), it’s a clear indicator that your workout is, in fact, working. Once you’ve reached a point where you can get through an entire session without breaking a sweat, it’s time to change your workout routine. Of course, working with a great personal trainer makes a world of a difference. Not everyone has the time or means to spend hours at the gym, so make sure you’re at least incorporating different cardio exercises and weight-training into your workouts.
Consider starting your workouts with a 1–2-minute challenge. Beginning with something new and energetic not only gets your heart-rate up — it motivates you to keep going strong!
5. You’re not reflecting
Everyone has their reasons for wanting to get fit. Resolutions are meant to be life-changing measures, not momentary fancies, after all. If you’re not spending a fair amount of time on self-reflection in this respect, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Reflect and analyze on what’s kept you meeting your health goals up until this point. Do you use food as a coping mechanism? Do you put off exercise in favor of television? Keep a diary for accountability. At the very least, write down a list. Find things you can easily eschew from your daily routine in order to incorporate more healthy habits.
Finally, reflecting on your New Year’s health goals shouldn’t be limited only to physical fitness. Mental health awareness is more important than ever — and it can provide insight as to why we sometimes sabotage our efforts at self-improvement. Consult a therapist if you feel your eating habits and lack of exercise are symptoms of a deeper issue. Websites and apps geared towards fitness rarely provide support in the way of mental wellness, but with more dialogue, that can very well change.
About the author: Aimee De Palma is the Marketing & Social Media Coordinator for It’s Fitness, a start-up that aims to revolutionize how we approach fitness by way of heart-pumping, sweat-drenching challenges and virtual tournaments. She's passionate about helping both new and experienced PTs and wellness professionals get the word out about their services and resides in Miami, Florida.