4 Reasons Your Fitness Resolutions Will Fail (Plus, How to Fix That)
If you’re wondering where all your friends are these days, they’re at the gym.
January at a gym is a very different scene than a gym in July. That’s because losing weight, exercising more and eating healthy are among the top ten most popular New Year’s Resolutions.
Why aren’t all these gym-goers still around come Spring Break? A whopping 90% of resolutions fail. In fact statistically, most of us have just about a week left before we abandon ours.
Before you go giving up already, check out these four common resolution mistakes and how to fix them.
The Failure: Setting Unrealistic Goals
Pledging to work out every day when you have been previously known to hit the gym once in a Blue Moon is simply an unrealistic expectation to set for yourself. You can’t expect to wake up one morning and do a complete 180. Setting goals we’re unlikely to achieve leaves us feeling like a failure when we fall short which causes many people to give up altogether.
The fix: Be honest with yourself
Ask yourself what you can realistically commit to. I like to tell clients this usually lies in the space between reality and excuses. Saying you’re too busy to workout is an excuse, because realistically you could make time a couple of days a week to go to the gym instead of watching TV. But going every day is probably not realistic. Be honest with yourself about what you can do, and avoid the urge to bite off more than you can chew.
The failure: Taking on too much
Not only do we often set unrealistic goals, we also try to take on too much at once. Resolving to lose thirty pounds is a nice goal, but it is going to take a long time to achieve. When you start to think about how much exercise you will have to do and how long you will have to diet in order to lose those thirty pounds, it can become overwhelming. This causes some people to throw in the towel before they even start.
The fix: Start small
Instead of focusing on the goal to lose thirty pounds this year, start small. Set a goal to drop just five pounds by the end of January. This is much more realistic, and seems achievable with a reasonable amount of diet and exercise. Then, break this goal into even smaller goals. In order to lose five pounds by the end of the month, you need to lose a pound each week. Determine what you have to do each week in order to lose one pound. Then all you have to do is focus on the goals you plan to accomplish that week. Break it down further into daily goals. “Today I will exercise for thirty minutes and eat a healthy dinner instead of pizza.” When you take things one day at a time you feel more motivated and accomplished. If you can do these things every day you can lose a pound a week, and in six months you will have reached your goal to lose thirty pounds.
The failure: You’re a Negative Nellie
Self-loathing is a terrible motivator. Oftentimes New Year’s Resolutions are made because we think we “should” do something, not necessarily because we want to. If you are trying to lose weight or eat healthy but you would much rather sit on the couch and munch on junk food, you’re probably not going to enjoy dieting and working out. Without a strong reason “why” we aren’t likely to follow through. You have to really want it, and you have to keep a positive attitude. Negative thinking will only make you cranky and resentful, which tends to lead to giving up because nobody likes feeling miserable.
The fix: Focus on the positive
Shift your focus to one of positivity. Determine why you want to lose weight or get healthier. Is it so you can take a trip you’ve been dreaming about? Or maybe so you can play with your kids more easily, or set a good example for them. Whatever the reason, try to give it a positive angle not a negative one. Instead of thinking “I need to lose weight because I’m fat and lazy,” tell yourself “I want to lose weight so I can hike with my family this Summer without having to stop and rest.” It’s important you’re making this lifestyle change because you want to, not because you have to or because someone else thinks you should. New Year’s Resolutions should be a reward to ourselves, not a punishment.
The failure: Not having a plan
No matter what you want to achieve, it won’t ever happen if you don’t have a concrete plan of action. Saying you will do something is not even half the battle. How will you successfully lose those five pounds? What do you have to change in order to make that happen? What new habits will you have to adopt? What things will you have to give up? Wishing for something is not a way to make it become reality.
The fix: Chart your path to success
Once you’ve determined your goal and broken it into weekly then daily steps, chart your path to success. Each day write down the tasks you need to accomplish for your goal. Checking them off one by one builds confidence and helps keep you motivated. It also provides accountability which is crucial to success. You need to see, on paper, the steps that are being taken to bring you closer to your goal. Having tangible evidence of your success or failure can be a very powerful motivator.
New Year’s Resolutions sometimes get a bad rep, but I think they can be powerful tools for change if done right. If you’re serious about wanting to change your habits or your life this year, follow the steps I’ve outlined above. Start small, be specific, be realistic while letting go of excuses, keep a positive mindset, chart a path to success and hold yourself accountable. You’re capable of achieving amazing things if you truly want to.