30th December 2017.With the end of the year on the horizon and the beginning of a fresh calendar almost here, many people begin to make plans for their New Year celebrations. Others turn their minds to the typical "New Year's resolutions" ? solemn determinations to make changes or do things differently next year. We're all familiar with the stereotype of the person who makes fitness resolutions and can't keep them. Maybe we've even been that person before. It's discouraging to want to make a change while feeling like you haven't been able to live up to your promises in the past. It doesn't have to be that way. First, though, it's important to accept that sticking to a New Year's resolution will be difficult no matter what. The start of the new year is more symbolic than anything, you'll be just as busy on January 1st as you were on December 31st. There's no magic button to push; you'll need to come up with some willpower to help make any other strategies you use more effective. However, there are things you can do to improve your chances and stick to your resolution. With hard work and a dedicated focus, you can make it all the way to this time again next year. You can achieve your resolution! Here's what to try.
Be specific: know your goals and what you want to achieve
The number one reason people fail to stick to their New Year's resolutions is very basic: they don't nail down what they really want to achieve. "I want to lose weight," or "I want to start exercising" are good starting points, but they shouldn't be the core of your resolution. Instead, you should set out particular goals that you can try to work towards achieving. Rather than resolving "to lose weight," consider setting a goal of losing a fixed amount of weight by the end of the new year. Losing even a pound a month is a good target. Likewise, don't just state that you want to exercise more often. Figure out what activities you'd like to participate in and create milestones that will lead you to the achievement you want. Take charge of your resolutions and make them something worth working for, instead of a simple daydream.
Set milestones that can keep you on track over the months
Speaking of milestones, it's important to break your big goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks. You're not going to lose 15 pounds all at once in January and then call it quits for the year, it's neither healthy nor realistic. Similarly, you won't be able to run a marathon with just a few weeks of practice. It takes training and dedication to stick to the path that leads to your goals. When the final prize has all your focus, however, it's easy to feel discouraged at your progress. That's why you should set aside a smaller milestone goal for every month of the year. It's something that you should be able to achieve with the right amount of hard work through each month. Likewise, with your overall resolution, keep it realistic. Be ready to challenge yourself, but don't set impossible goals.
Make time in your schedule for fitness
When the euphoria of your New Year celebrations wears off, and you head back to the daily grind, it's easy to immediately discard your resolutions with the phrase "I don't have time." It's a good bet that you do have the time, you're just using it for other, less important things right now. Working, sleeping, and eating are non-negotiable, of course, and there are some obligations like school or family that you can't shirk either. However, how much time do you spend watching TV, browsing on your phone, or playing games? That's all time that you could rededicate to your fitness. You'll have to be willing to make some sacrifices to be able to work towards your monthly milestones. Once you rearrange your schedule, it only takes about a week for you to feel comfortable in the new routine. You might be surprised to find you still have plenty of leisure opportunities after your workout, too.
Don't stay focused on just one activity
Boredom is also the enemy of those who craft fitness-based resolutions. If you try to stick to running exclusively, and you aren't a big fan of the activity, you'll quit within weeks out of a lack of interest. Once that happens, it's hard to push the reset button immediately; you might end up waiting to make another resolution next year. To avoid this pitfall, mix up your training at regular intervals. Cross-training, such as swimming and cycling or running, not only helps to build up your whole body but keeps your mind engaged in your workouts, too. Try to incorporate some lesser fitness activities, such as short routines with hand weights at home, to mix in even more variety. Don't fracture your efforts between too many pursuits, but do keep a decent amount of variation mixed in for your benefit.
Prepare for the plateau, then learn how to push forward
After a few months of sticking to your routine and meeting your milestones, you're going to run into the first of what will be many plateaus in your journey. At a certain point, you stop seeing the gains you were enjoying at the start. It seems like nothing else is happening, even though you're continuing to work out and eat right. What's the problem? The issue is that you've done much of what you can do at your current level of intensity ? it means it's time to bring the challenge back into the picture. While you might not want to give up how easy it becomes to do your daily fitness activities, you won't continue to meet your milestones if you don't push past the plateau to keep climbing. Start looking for new and better ways to challenge your body.
Avoid trying to do it all by yourself
The concept of being able to achieve better physical fitness all on your own is a nice one. Some people can achieve it ? but most people can't. That's perfectly okay, too! It's a tough thing to do, and the mental barriers are no joke. To make it easier, enlist the help of a friend or a family member. If you want to get serious about your New Year's resolutions, share these tips and your plan for the year with your friend. Ask them to not only help keep you accountable to your goals but to join you in the journey. When you have a workout buddy to whom you can turn for support and partnership, you're much more likely to stick with the routine you've created. Reach out for help whenever necessary. You'll often find others will be very excited to help you improve.
Don't be too hard on yourself, know when to "cheat"
It's simple to write it all out, but it's much harder actually to achieve. There will be difficult days, and there will be workout sessions where you must tap out early because you can't go one step farther. Don't harshly judge yourself for these incidents. Instead, recognise them as a part of your journey and pick yourself back up to move on to the next day. At the same time, give yourself a break every now and again. Occasionally, it's okay to spend a rainy day on the couch indulging in some foods that break your diet. If you get right back into your routine the next day, these "cheat days" can help provide a much-needed mental reset for your efforts.
The first steps are always the hardest
If achieving a New Year's resolution wasn't a challenge, where would the fun be in making them at all? When you want to resolve to lose weight, improve your fitness, or achieve some other physical goal, it all comes down to planning. Your hunger for achieving the goals you set out for yourself won't hurt your progress, either. Whether you need to grab a friend to stay on track or you find that you need to mix up your routine more often, do what it takes to fight for your goals. Somewhere along the way, you'll make an important transition: your new routine will simply be "your routine." This article was specially written for Sports Fitness, an online sports store where you can shop for fantastic value exercise gear. Follow @SportNessUK