How Can You Choose Resolutions That Actually Work?
OK. It’s early January, and some people follow the tradition of making a January 1 resolution for the year. When it comes to fitness most people fail to keep their resolutions. Gym memberships spike, but by just the third week of January gym visits fall. By around August almost everyone who signed up in January has stopped going regularly to the gym. If failure is so common, how can you turn your resolutions into a win… other than resolving to eat a bag of potato chips every day?
Christina Caron wrote a piece in the NYT about choosing to make small bite-sized resolutions as a way of lowering the bar, so you can succeed. The key is to make the goal attainable and something you can measure. Avoid things like, “I’m going to lose weight,” or “I’m going to be healthier” as those are vague.
If you don’t exercise at all, maybe start with the goal of doing just 10 minutes each day of something: walking, stretching, strength. Or make a goal of attending one class each week. It’s best to write down your goals, and to create a plan for how you are going to achieve them. If you are time crunched, make sure you can find the 10 minutes each day or the time to attend one class. It also helps to tell friends or family your goal, so they can help you be accountable.
If you have failures along the way, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself. It helps you get back on the horse and continue with trying to stick to the goal.
When choosing a goal, pay attention to why you picked the goal or resolution. It’s best if it comes from an internal motivation instead of something that you think will please others.
The fitness and health example might be that you want to exercise more so that you will feel physically better and have more energy. If you lose weight along the way, aches in your joints might go away. Those are internal motivations instead of choosing to lose weight because you think others will think you look better after you lose some weight.
A recent article in The Atlantic by Arthur C. Brooks highlighted four keys to being successful with resolutions:
A. Reinforce your belief that you can change
B. Reward your short term successes
C. Avoid temptation situations
D. Employ positive thinking and envision success.
The key point of this article is focused on choosing resolutions that lead to happiness. For most people, dropping a few pounds does not automatically lead to more happiness. The author suggests choosing forgiveness and gratitude, especially in a year like 2021 when we face such harsh challenges and have a divided country. Forgiving is challenging and we believe it’s best done close to the time of the incident that requires forgiveness.
Being grateful is easier. The author suggests making a list of things that you are grateful for, and then examining the list for a few moments each day. If you see something missing, add it to the list. Let others know that you are grateful for what they do to help you.
At Cardio High we do ask clients their health and fitness goals, and most people say, “I want to lose weight and tone up.” While weight loss can be specific and measurable, we prefer to make that a secondary goal to increasing time exercising or improving performance such as running a faster mile.
Toning up is vague unless you own the gear to measure percentage of body fat. We try to redirect clients to small, specific goals and then to revise upward as the goals are achieved.