January 1st is synonymous with New Years Resolutions, fitness based resolutions top the chart for being the most common. Unfortunately, 80% of these resolutions fail by February. Make 2018 different with my top tips for making and keeping your resolutions long term.
1. Don’t try and change everything at once
The main reason people break their New Years Resolutions is because they try to change too much at once which sets them up for failure. When we change one think we have 80% chance of success, try to change two things at the same time it drops to 60% and three things and it is down to 20%. Start small and once you have successfully made that change, add to it. small changes over time add up to huge change and more importantly, they become long term habits.
2. Be accountable
Social accountability is a great way to keep you on track. Tell people about your resolutions, this works for two reasons; 1. you won’t want to admit you have failed which makes it more likely you will stay on track, 2. telling people of your success acts as a reward stimulus for your brain, something you will subconsciously work to keep receiving.
3. Do it with friends
If you want to make going to the gym a resolution, see if you can get a gym buddy. You are far more likely to go if skipping it will mean letting someone else down. If your resolution is to eat healthier, why not get your office involved so you can all ditch the unhealthy office snacks together (this will also help to get rid of some of the temptation).
4. Keep a record
Our brains love sequence and will work to maintain it. Buy a calendar and for every day you manage to do you resolution, cross it off on the calendar. You will not want to ruin your sequence by missing a day, this will help you to keep going. Other tools such as ‘My Fitness Pal’ or ‘Eat This Much’ are great apps for recording your diet and fitness achievement and the feedback will spur you to carry on.
5. If you fall off the wagon, don’t write it off completely
Don’t make it all or nothing, if you slip up and break your resolution draw a line under it and restart. One of the mistakes people make is to make unrealistic goals and then give up completely when they don’t manage to keep them up. If you’re resolution is to give up junk food and you then eat a burger, just stop at that rather than going on a massive binge. If your overall diet is better than before, count this as success, a few non-healthy meals shouldn’t be a reason to give up completely. Aim for progress not perfection.
6. Set your resolutions in the positive
Instead of saying what you don’t want, say what you do want. Focusing on a ‘giving up’ goal makes you focus on that thing and will draw you back towards it. This type of goal also highlights what you are giving up and creates a feeling of loss which your brain perceives as a negative thing and will fight against it. What will you be gaining from giving up, say, smoking? You could instead phrase your goal as ‘I want to enjoy the health and freedom of being a non-smoker’.
7. Write down the benefits of the resolution
Write down all the things achieving your resolution will give you in minute detail, it will increase your motivation to stay on track. For example, getting fit and healthy could mean having more energy, sleeping better, feeling happier. Take this a step further, what would having more energy give you? What would being happier bring you? Etc. Any time when you are close to giving up, remind yourself of the list and what you will gain from carrying on.
8. Reward yourself
This could simply mean taking the time to congratulate yourself. Positive reinforcement will help to reinforce the behaviour so you will want to do it again in order to get it again. Perhaps you could treat yourself to a beauty item or even splurge on a massage or anything you would really enjoy.
9. Have a plan
Once you have decided on your resolutions, sit down and work out what needs to be done. For example, if it is losing weight, how are you going to do this? Diet? Exercise?. If you are unsure of the best way to lose weight, get help. There are lots of online resources, or you can get the help of a Personal Trainer or Nutritionist in your local area.
10. Plan for obstacles
Change is challenging but one way you can overcome obstacles is to plan for them. Explore all the things that could prevent you from keeping your resolutions and come up with a plan for tackling them. It is also better to plan for them in advance as then you are in a less emotional state which means the rational part of your brain will be working more efficiently.
I hope these tips help you in planning and keeping your 2018 resolutions and I would love to hear any feedback. If you would like to know more about how you can reach your health and fitness goals, please get in touch for details on my coaching and personal training packages.
Happy New Year Everyone