New Year New You? How to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick
Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution but not stuck with it? If the answer is yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A U.S. News & World Report showed that on average 80% of us will have failed at our resolutions by the time February rolls around - yikes. But don’t be disheartened, with the right approach you can reach your health goals and stick with them. Mark O’Reilly, Health and Wellbeing Coach at Fitvision, has coached thousands of people successfully and below he explains his secrets to success.
Do it the SMARTWAY
“Building a strong foundation before we dive headfirst into a goal is probably the thing that has made the majority of my clients successful,” Mark explains. But how do we lay that solid foundation? Well, if you work in the business world, you’re probably familiar with the concept of setting SMART goals. “The SMART principle states that a goal should be Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic and Time-based,” Mark notes. This holds true for setting fitness goals too. “Setting a SMART health goal for yourself might sound something like: ‘I’m setting a goal to perform five 30 min exercise sessions per week and I’m setting the target for this from today until February the 1st,’” Mark explains. “We can see that that goal is Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic and Time-Based.”
However, Mark likes to bring another element into the mix to ensure success, the WAY. “The WAY part looks at Why the goal is important to you, who other than yourself is going to keep you Accountable and Your reward.”
Figuring Out Your Why
While it’s tempting to simply set a weight loss goal to work towards, a figure on the scales isn’t likely to keep your motivation up. Instead, Mark recommends thinking a little deeper about why you want to achieve that goal. “Think about how your goal will impact every area of your life,” he explains, “your work life, your family life and you generally as an individual.” For example, your Why might be that you find you’re now out of breath walking up the stairs or can no longer run around the park with the kids. Keeping those things top of mind will give a stronger reason to stay motivated.
When setting out on a new health goal, it’s important to have someone other than yourself holding you accountable. That might be a trainer, a friend or family member. “If you can find someone on a similar journey to you it can really help keep you motivated and accountable,” Mark notes. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good support system in place. “If you live with your family, you’ll want to let them know too because you might find yourself up earlier for a fitness class or cooking different things.” If you have a trainer, scheduling catch-ups on a monthly basis can be a great way to keep you on-track and accountable.
Don’t forget to build some form of reward into your plan. “We have a tendency to keep pushing on and forget to take some time to stop and crown our achievements,” Mark notes. Small rewards every few weeks will help you keep the momentum going. “A short-term reward might be some new exercise gear or going out for a nice meal. If your goal is longer-term, the reward could be a nice holiday during the summer.”
Once you have your plan in place there are a few other key ingredients to ensure success.
What to Do When You Lapse
Okay, so you’ve had a brilliant few weeks, you’ve been hitting the gym with gusto and are feeling pretty proud of yourself. But then, you miss a few training sessions or eat a few cheat meals. How do you get yourself back on track? “Take the guilt out of it,” Mark notes. “Even the most dedicated and motivated person in the world will lapse from time to time. You need to have the resilience to know that even if you didn’t get to your workout today, you can always reset and refocus.”
Consistency Over Intensity
Pushing yourself to the max at the beginning of the month is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out two weeks in. To avoid this, Mark advocates consistency over intensity. “We all know that it’s easy to lose ten kilos the wrong way and then quickly put the weight back on. If we adopt a consistent approach, we will end up getting there, it might take us a little bit longer but it’s far more sustainable in the long run.”