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.
Have you set yourself a New Year's Resolution?
Sundried conducted a survey with a reach of 4,000 people and found that 43% of people expect to give up their goal after just one month.
Research shows that 95% of New Year's Resolutions are fitness related, but after just 3 months, only 10% of people think their resolution will last.
So why do we give up so easily and how can we make sure our goals not only last, but are met?
10 Reasons we give up on our New Year’s Resolutions
1. Going Solo
Many of us set our fitness goals and then try to achieve them alone. We won’t tell anyone what we’re working towards in fear of failure. In fact, we need to think more - strength in numbers, by sharing our goals with others we are more likely to succeed for two reasons.
- You have someone to answer to. Sharing a goal suggests you’re truly serious about wanting to make it happen, as you wouldn’t want to be seen as a failure.
- A problem shared is a problem halved - training with someone towards your goal, be it a friend or a PT adds twice the motivation and can help to ensure you don’t let yourself, or your partner down.
2. Too High Expectations
It’s important to set a New Year's Resolution which is realistic, you can’t be expecting a Christmas miracle to conquer your New Year’s resolution for you. If you want to lose weight, put a number on it that's achievable, rather than leaving it open-ended or expecting the world in just a few months. You can do this by truly analysing your goal, taking a good hard look at yourself and weighing up whether your fitness goal is realistic. It may mean downsizing your goal for now, but keeping it as a goal to work towards in the future, as part of your bigger picture.
3. Giving up too easily
January is a tough old month, it’s cold, it’s dark, everyone’s got hangovers and it's another 11 months before next Christmas, talk about January blues...because of this, it seems to take less of an excuse for us to give up on our goals. We need to hang on in there! Having a plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals once the excitement wears off can help you to stay focused. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you're far more likely to set and achieve another because you know you really can do it, you’ve proved it!
4. Not Enough Time
As with any goal, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to make it work and so for many fitness goals, this can be the reason we fail. Setting slots in advance for exercise or breaking routines into 5-minute goals and targets can help to knock your goal down into more manageable time frames. Fitness doesn’t take hours and hours, it just takes good planning. For example, we created EHOH, every hour on the hour, where we exercise for a few minutes at a time to combat the negative effects of having a sedentary office job. Prioritise your goal as of importance to you and you’re sure to find time to work at it.
5. Not Enough Money
A new goal usually comes at a cost, whether it’s a new gym membership or new kit, money can be a deciding factor in you achieving your goal. Whilst sometimes the initial start up, ie. buying the kit and joining a gym, does cost a lot, you can take advantage of January deals and you have to see it as an investment in yourself. Choose activewear which is designed to last in the long run to save money down the line. Paying for a gym membership to help you achieve your goal can also work as extra motivation to make sure you get there, as nobody likes to waste money!
6. No Plan
A man who fails to prepare, prepares to fail. This is a saying I stand by 100%, if I don’t have prepped meals I’ll snack off plan, or starve and binge, neither are great. If you set off on a journey you’d never been on before without satellite navigation, how would you make it without checking the route in advance? Planning and preparation prevents a poor performance. Whilst you can hire a Personal Trainer to work as your ‘sat nav’ guiding you to fitness, or so to speak, you’ll still need to plan when you’re going to train with them. A goal without a plan is just a wish, you need to put your words into actions to achieve your goal.
7. No Motivation
Motivation might be what gets your started, but it fades so you need to use that initial motivation to create habits that will keep your goal continuing to happen, even once the initial buzz is a thing of the past.
8. No Self-Belief
Sometimes we could really do with someone reminding us there is no such thing as ‘I can’t’. This is a big contender when it comes to fitness goals, as you have to believe you can do it to really try. We also don’t compliment ourselves enough for the progress we make along the way even if we haven’t hit our goal, if progress has been made, it should be appreciated and proves that it can be done. Don’t think you can do it? Prove yourself wrong!
9. Social Situations
Go on just one more, and one turned into four. Over Christmas the chances are you’ve had a fair few social situations where you’ve promised yourself you won’t drink, you’ll pick the salad or you’ll call it a night before midnight and then comes 3am and you’re drunk singing with a kebab in your hand. We’ve all been there and in the most part - you can blame your friends. Peer pressure is a huge factor in breaking your resolutions, because nobody wants to feel left out and social situations at this time of year in particular always revolve around drinking and eating far more than we should. Instead of turning into a social recluse, why not manage your social events, pick healthy options and drive - that way you have your excuse for not drinking.
10. You Forget
You made your resolution drunk at 12.01am New Year's day and woke up on January the second completely oblivious. Perhaps a drunken resolution is destined to fail.
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 Translational Behavioral 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.
10. Ask for helpWhen you struggling or you’ve fallen off the bandwagon, don’t give up, just ask for help! Use advice from professionals, perhaps even hire a Personal Trainer, but whatever you do, don’t feel alone, there will always be someone that can help.