The Secret to Achieving your Health and Fitness New Year’s Resolutions: My top 4 Tips for Guaranteed Success in 2021

The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

Does this sound familiar; “I’m going to start working out and eating healthy once the New Year starts.”

As a personal trainer, for over 18 years, I’ve heard this statement so many times. Many people make New Year’s resolutions relating to fitness every year, but only a very small portion manages to keep on track.

The statistics make interesting reading for anyone considering starting a New Year Resolution for 2021:

  • revealed in 2019 79% of Aussies committed to a New Year’s resolution. 
  • revealed in 2019 53% of Aussies wanted to lose weight or ramp up their fitness regime.
  • Research published by YouGov in December 2020 indicated 50% of all New Year resolutions relate to fitness.
  • According to various global sources the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 %.
  • Evidence indicates most give up within six weeks or less.
  • In 2011 TIME magazine highlighted the goals relating to weight loss and getting fit are the most commonly broken New Year’s resolutions.

New Year’s Day comes and goes and unfortunately, so does our enthusiasm for the ‘new me’.

What causes us to sabotage our good intentions to get fit and lose weight so easily?

And what can we do to make sure we are not one of the 80%?

Based on what I’ve seen year after year this blog hopes to provide you with the answers.

The inside knowledge that will help you make your fitness 2021 New Year’s resolutions a reality.

Why do New Year Resolutions fail?

As the holiday glow fades, so can our resolutions to make this New Year the healthiest.

We need to recognise that any change of routine in life is inherently challenging. The brain is hardwired to crave routine and resist change, so adhering to such programs will be tough to maintain.

There are a number of reasons why New Year’s Resolutions usually fail:

  • unrealistic goals,
  • all or nothing mentality,
  • trying to achieve the goal too fast,
  • a lack of measuring or monitoring the goal,
  • not having fun
  • a lack of time
  • boredom
  • lack of motivation
  • Life gets in the way
  • Resolutions are often vague-“I’m going to exercise!”

How can we realistically overcome these obstacles?

How can we keep going and maintain our enthusiasm throughout the year?

What is the number 1 thing that drives us to succeed in life? – MOTIVATION

Getting Motivation and Keeping it!

Motivation is the set of psychological forces that compel you to take action. It helps to understand what motivation means to you so you can find your own ways to get motivated.

Everyone is motivated by different things. It can be challenging to find the motivation just to get started.

You don’t need much motivation once you’ve started a behaviour. Nearly all of the friction in a task is at the beginning. Understanding what motivates you can make the difference between success and failure.

But is motivation sustainable long term?

What causes motivation to fade?

From my observations over the years it is inevitably at some point your motivation will slump. It’s unavoidable.

What happens when motivation takes a dive? 

We all love a challenge, but only if that challenge falls within our optimal zone of difficulty. Tasks that border on success and failure are incredibly motivating to us.

We want nothing more than to master a skill that is just beyond our current limit. However, there’s a fine line between when our limits are stretched too much or too little and our motivation fades.

Generally, there are 2 reasons why motivation starts to dwindle. If you find yourself feeling unmotivated, it often because:

1. The task has become too easy and boring; let’s say you walk every day for 30 minutes. At some point that task will probably become uninspiring.

2. The task has become too challenging; if you return to exercise after a lengthy lay off and decide to start running 10km a day you are probably exceeding your present level of fitness.

You need to find a way to energise you motivation for the task where you feel challenged, but capable.

Over the years, as a PT, I have witnessed these scenarios play out many times.

So how can you maximise your motivation?

Maximising motivation for long term success

Now we understand the importance of motivation we now need to be specific around what actions are needed to put us on the path to success.

Answering these 4 specific questions will give you a push in the right direction when it comes to sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

1. ‘Why’ do you want to make the change?

2. is your goal measurable?

3. What is your plan?

4. Who can support you as you work toward change?

1. ‘Why’ do you want to make the change?

Sometimes it’s not so much the ‘what’ or the ‘how’ that matters, but your ‘why’. A compelling reason will always give you purpose.

Being clear about what you’re working for can give you the stimulus to stay on course. Many people are not framing their resolutions in ways that will motivate them over time.

For example, “exercise more” is a fairly clear directive, but it lacks depth and personal meaning that could help promote follow through.

Why are you pursuing a certain goal?

If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. Find your ‘WHY’.

  • “I want to lose weights so I have more energy to play with my kids”.
  • “I want to look in the mirror and see that confident person I was 10 years ago”.
  • “I want to easily fit into that favourite outfit again”.

While motivation provides you energy to do something that energy needs to be focused somewhere. Generally, where there are strong emotions attached to the outcome the desire for success will always be greater.

Look deep inside and find your WHY.

2. Is your goal measurable?

Measurement is a key factor in motivation. If you don’t measure your progress how can you improve?

Over the years I have made this my number 1 tool for motivating clients. Whether it is acknowledging weight loss on the scales, or moving up a notch on your belt buckle or improving your time for running 400 meters. When you see positive results you will always be inspired to try harder.

Alternatively, if the results are not as favourable as hoped over a period of time it gives us an opportunity to refine the processes.

It’s like a ship that is a few degrees slightly of course. At the beginning those few degrees will not make a big difference in the short term. But if that direction is allowed to continue long term uncorrected the consequences can be huge.

The things we measure are the things we improve. It is only through numbers and clear tracking that we have any idea if we are getting better or worse. Our lives are shaped by how we choose to spend our time and energy each day. Measuring can help motivate us spend that time in better ways, more consistently.

3. What is your plan?

No doubt you’ve heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote; ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.

 I don’t believe anyone sets out planning to fail, but sometimes priorities (too many) or time (not enough) or self-discipline (lack of) results in our failing to plan which can make all the difference between success and failure.

Because you won’t just wake up and change your life, you need a plan for what to do. Research has shown having a plan has a dramatic effect on outcomes.

One study found that 91% of participants who created an exercise plan stuck with it. For example locking in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as gym days proved to be a pivotal strategy to success. Articulating targeted plans beforehand, based on the areas of our lives in which we want to exert self-control, makes a huge difference.

Before you start on your new fitness journey take some time to answer these 3 questions;

1. When will you exercise?

Identify days and times that are convenient for you and stick with those days so you are working out at the same time each week.

2. What type of exercise will you do?

The best type of exercise is one you enjoy. Don’t concern yourself with what everyone else is doing; pick an exercise that works for you. Choose from activities such as walking, cycling, running, group classes, swimming, or weight training.

If you seriously want to stay motivated, find a way to make it enjoyable. Fun is not the enemy but a great motivator.

3. How much time can you spend exercising?

New Year’s resolutions have a way of making you feel like you need to go full-force on a goal or you may as well not do it at all. Be Realistic. Resist this urge to start out all or nothing. It is not sustainable long term.

Start slow (i.e., low intensity and duration), develop a solid foundation of fitness and then build upon that foundation as your fitness improves.

Start with as little as 10 minutes per session and slowly build up to around 30-45 minutes per workout.

4. Who can support you as you work toward change?

To achieve your goals requires you to become someone who is different from whom you are today. This is never easy!

Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance having a support network. Making yourself accountable to someone else can be an incredibly powerful effective tool. It helps you stay on track in those times of needs.

Find a friend, a trainer, your neighbour, someone or anyone to hold you accountable towards your goals.

Big changes and important goals don’t just happen. They require sustained action. That sustained action is difficult to achieve on our own. It stretches us way out of our comfort zone.  

The more challenging the goal, the more it makes sense to invest in the support team. Having outside accountability helps when that initial excitement of the goal starts to fade, the going gets tough and we want to bail.

The right kind of helper encourages you to keeping going when you are brink of giving up. The right accountability partner helps you expand your toolbox and capabilities so you can react to challenges in different ways that empower you.

Take away message

Now we have an understanding of the importance of defining what motivation means to you we can look at ways of ensuring we are within the 20% of people who are successful with New Year’s resolutions.

I hope this guide to achieving New Year’s resolutions helps you.

If you found this useful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2021?

If you need any help reaching your health and fitness goals please reach out. Any questions welcomed.

Happy New Year.

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