Are you tired of making the same New Year's resolution to lose weight or get in better shape, year after year? Wouldn't it be great to actually follow through and reach your goals this time?
Here are my six tips for successful New Year's resolutions:
Vague goals are very difficult to achieve. Examples of vague fitness goals include "run more," "lose weight," or "get stronger." Any of these goals could be made more specific by quantifying them: "Run a total of 30 minutes each week," "lose one pound every two weeks until I've lost 20 pounds," or "bench press five extra pounds each week until I can bench press my own body weight." You'll notice that those last two examples actually had an end goal in mind, which leads to the next point...
If there is no start date, end date, or end goal (benchmark) for your resolution, then it can be very hard to get started and very hard to complete. After all, how hard would it be to <a href="http://getfitguy.quickanddirtytips.com/how-to-start-running.aspx" target="_hplink">run a marathon</a> if you had no idea where the starting line, ending line, or any of the middle points were, and you just had to run until someone said stop? Pretty tough! So when you set a resolution, you must set a start date (e.g., first Monday in January I weigh myself) and an end date or end goal (I lose a pound every two weeks until May 31, or until I've lost 20 pounds). If you need help with realistic dates and goals, just head over the Get-Fit Guy <a href="http://www.facebook.com/GetFitGuy" target="_hplink">Facebook page</a>.
Depending on your personality, it can be easy to go overboard with your resolution-making. If you wake up on January 1 ready to learn to play a piano concerto, run a marathon, lose 20 pounds, and become a black belt in karate, you're significantly improving the likelihood of not achieving at least one of those goals -- and probably doing a pretty subpar job at all of them. Despite the temptation to use New Year's as a motivation to get a lot done, it is better and more efficient to focus on just one big goal, and not to become distracted by other dreams.
If you're not tracking or logging your progress, you can easily lose motivation, or easily forget your quantifiable goal. Whether it's stepping on the scale each day and writing down the number, taking a front and side photo at the end of each week, or checking how fast you can run a mile at the end of every week, you must have a way of checking in on your progress. If your goal involves swimming, cycling, or running, I recommend using an online tracking and logging software such as <a href="http://home.trainingpeaks.com/affiliates/ben-greenfield-fitness/personal-edition.aspx" target="_hplink">TrainingPeaks</a>, which makes it easy to track such activities and even share your workouts with your friends. Speaking of which...
Don't keep your New Year's resolution to yourself -- instead, tell the world! As you learned in <a href="http://getfitguy.quickanddirtytips.com/10-exercise-motivation-tips.aspx" target="_hplink">my episode</a> "10 Exercise Motivation Tips," you can increase your accountability, motivation, and potential to stick to it if you share your workout goals and progress. You can also share your actual workouts by getting a workout buddy or even hiring a personal trainer to help keep you on track.
Let's face it, we're all human. There will be periods of time where your progress towards achieving your resolution doesn't go exactly as planned. For example, I'm personally an "all-or-nothing" personality, and that means that if I've made a commitment to exercise for an hour a day, and I have a day in which I can only go 20 minutes, I can easily get discouraged and feel ready to give up on my goal. But this is silly! Every little bit of progress you make toward your goal really does count, no matter how small it is. So even when the going gets tough and you don't get as much accomplished as you think you should, just keep on plugging away. The results will speak for themselves.
Here's to never making the same resolution twice. Cheers!
Ben Greenfield is a fitness and triathlon expert and host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network. His latest book is Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body: A Workout Plan for Your Unique Shape.
For more by Ben Greenfield, click here.
For more on personal health, click here.
For more on success and motivation, click here.
Follow Ben Greenfield on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GetFitGuy