If You're A Failed 'Resolutioner', You're Not Alone — And It's Not Your Fault. Check Out These Three Tips To Make Your 2022 Goals Stick.
Most of us have been there: excited to get fit, ready to start a new plan... as soon as January 1st rolls around. While there's something that feels magical about a fresh start, science shows that people who make New Years resolutions around fitness and weight loss tend to fall off the wagon — fast.
Here, we'll take a look at why so many New Years resolutions fail before February, and what you can do differently to increase your chances of success in your wellness journey.
#1 Reason Why Resolutions Fail: Focusing On What You Don't Want Instead Of What You Do Want
Fitness goals often focus on what we want to get rid of, not what we want to gain. Often, we focus on wanting to lose weight, wanting to cut minutes off of a 5K time, or fitting into a smaller pair of pants. While health benefits may come with these goals, our minds aren't primed to downsize — we're primed to work toward increase.
Simple changes in phrasing can increase the likelihood that you'll stick to your goals. Changing your internal messaging can be tricky at first, but over time, it'll become natural.
If you're someone who wants to lose weight, think about what you actually want to gain. More confidence? Strength? More energy? While you can still use the scale as a benchmark for your progress, try to shift your focus from what you want to get rid of to what you want more of.
When the scale stalls (as it always does, no matter how strictly you stick to your plan), you'll be less likely to fall off the wagon if your mind is focused on how your hard work is improving your life. If you're working with a fitness pro at a fitness studio, be sure to chat with your trainer on what you want to add to your life with your sessions — not just what you want to lose. Having your trainer remind you of all that you're gaining can help you stay strong when things get tough.
#2 Reason Why Resolutions Fail: Lack Of Accountability
When you set a big goal, it can feel scary to share it with others. You may wonder whether you'll be strong enough to follow through, or what other people will think if you fail. There's a reason that accountability can be scary: it forces you to stay on track toward your goals even when you decide that you've had enough.
Accountability can take many forms, and it's all about finding what works best for your lifestyle (more on that in a moment).
If you're someone who tends to isolate when you fall off the wagon, be sure to let your accountability partner(s) know that you need regular check-ins. If you slip up on your way to your goals, don't worry — your accountability crew will be there to get you right on track.
Going through a fitness journey isn't about living perfectly every day. It's about building a healthier lifestyle, one step at a time. When you have accountability, you're reminded that you're not going through this alone, and it can be easier to take the slip-ups in stride.
#3 Reason Why Resolutions Fail: Attempting To Change Behavior Without Changing Mindset
There's a reason why the "I'll start tomorrow" mindset almost always fails. When we set a future behavior change goal without addressing the mindsets that create those behaviors, we're doomed to fail.
When we set a goal to lose weight, gain muscle, get up and exercise before work, or finally set up sessions with a personal trainer, it doesn't matter how badly we want to follow through unless we change the thinking that's led to a need for behavior change in the first place.
If you're struggling to make it to the gym regularly, it's time to dig into the thoughts that precede your decision to skip your workouts. Are you burnt out from work? Struggling to spend enough time with your family? Too tired due to poor nutritional habits? Once you key into the thoughts that lead up to undesired behaviors, you can begin to change your mindset so that your behaviors can begin to change as well.
When you choose an arbitrary date to change without digging into the reasons why change needs to happen, you'll only stay strong until your willpower takes a hit.
What Can We Do About It? Creating New Healthy Habits That Stick
Now that we know what NOT to do when it comes to getting healthy, let's take a look at what you can do — right now, not next year — to create the changes necessary for lasting, long-term change.
Tactic #1: Get Positive.
Stop berating yourself for what you aren't, and start to celebrate what you are. In addition to phrasing your goals in a positive way (remember, saying that you want to get stronger instead of saying you want to lose weight), celebrate small wins each day. Big fitness goals don't happen overnight — they're the result of small changes that you make on a day-to-day basis.
Small wins can include:
Increasing your weights in your workout
Keeping great form on an exercise that used to be a struggle for you
Trying a new workout class
Enjoying a dessert then getting right back to your normal eating routine
Hitting your water goal for the day
Pushing yourself is important, but so is celebrating the little changes that you're making each day. Berating yourself into getting fit isn't a recipe for long-term success. Changing your internal monologue to speak with love and respect is the first step toward lasting health.
Tactic #2: Get Accountable.
Whether you're an introvert or the life of the party, it's important that you have social support to help you stay strong in your fitness goals. A cool bonus of finding your group now instead of in the first week of the new year: you'll be more likely to connect with others who are ready to make lasting change, instead of people who are jumping on the New Years bandwagon, only to fall off before Valentine's Day.
Some ways to stay accountable with your fitness goals include:
Sharing your fitness goals with friends and family members who will support your efforts
Discussing your commitment to a healthy lifestyle with coworkers and others with whom you interact on a daily basis
Joining a walking or running group at your local park
Signing up for group or individual training sessions at a studio that offers personal training
Finding a group of like-minded people online and virtually sharing your progress
Tactic #3: Get Your Mind Right.
Changing your thoughts is tough, and it takes work to become consistent. Noticing your negative thoughts can be the first step in figuring out how to change your behaviors.
Simply catching yourself when your inner voice becomes your worst critic is a smart first step in changing your mentality. Gently, silently correcting yourself can go a long way in helping to change the thoughts that lead to undesirable behaviors.
The Bottom Line: Don't Wait.
January brings a fresh start for people across the country, from New York City to Los Angeles, and everywhere in between. No matter what your fitness aspirations, getting started today gives you a chance to get ahead. You know what you need to do to create positive change in your life. If you're serious about your goals, there's no reason to wait until the New Year to get started. Take the first step toward the healthy life you want today — not next year.