At the end of each year, about 45% of Americans set New Year's resolutions - many of which are health and fitness related. These resolutions are set with the best of intentions and include things like working out several times a week and eating healthier. However, most people that set those new year’s resolutions never end up actually achieving them (only a whopping 8% are typically successful at achieving their resolutions, according to a study done at the University of Scranton).
Since there’s such a large disconnect going on, focusing on making small, sustainable changes may help bridge the gap and get more people to achieve realistic resolutions or goals. Here are four easy ways you can incorporate healthy habits into your routine so that you can reach your health, fitness, and wellness goals!
1. Focus on a WHY
Many people set resolutions or goals blindly without honing in on WHY they want to set those specific goals. For example, someone may want to lose 20 pounds. However, they may want to lose 20 pounds because they think that’s realistic for them, or they think that it’ll make them feel better about themselves. They begin working out several times a week and eating more nutritious foods, but slowly begin to lose steam because their ‘why’ isn’t resounding enough for them.
Focus your goals on a ‘why’ that is meaningful to you. Perhaps you’d like to lose 20 pounds so that you can lower your blood pressure and get off of blood pressure medication, or perhaps you want to exercise a few times a week so that you have better stamina to keep up with your kids.
Choosing something that has a deeper, non-superficial meaning to it will make working toward those goals much more meaningful.
2. Start Small
As I mentioned previously, many people have great intentions when they set goals (such as working out 5 times a week), but bite off much more than they can chew. If you’re someone who is coming from a place of little to no activity and you have a busy work and family schedule, working out 5-6 times per week may not actually be realistic for you, and you’re setting yourself up for failure from the beginning.
Michele Burmaster, Co-Founder of the Body Positive Fitness Alliance, suggests setting a small goal that you know you can achieve 90% of the time based off of your current schedule and obligations. Does your current work schedule and kids’ after school activities allow you to make it to the gym twice a week, 90% of the time? Start there. Work to maintain that for 6-8 weeks, and then see if it makes sense to add a little to that goal (perhaps working out three times per week). Starting with something you know you can achieve makes the experience more positive and allows you to build small but sustainable habits that you can increase overtime.
3. Focus on one or two goals at a time
Tying in to point number two, try not to overload yourself with too many goals at once, or you’ll run the risk of feeling overwhelmed and not achieving your goals. Start with one or two goals that again, you feel you can achieve 90% of the time. I recommend starting with one movement based goal and one nutrition based goal.
Perhaps you set the goal of working out twice a week (because that’s something you feel you can achieve 90% of the time) and getting in a serving of vegetables with at least two meals a day. By just working on those two goals, you’re already getting in more movement and more vitamins and minerals that your body needs, which in turn will increase your overall health, without feeling like you’ve bit off more than you can chew. Once you’ve made those habits, you can work toward setting another one or two goals.
4. Build yourself a sound-proof plan.
It’s easy to get off track from your goals if you don’t have a plan in place. Taking easy steps to help you achieve your goals will help turn those goals into habits.
Let’s take our first example, working out twice a week. Take a look at your work calendar and family obligations on Sunday night and look for 3-4 days you could possibly get in a workout. Perhaps you have two mornings you can workout before work, and two evenings where your kids don’t have after school activities or sports practices.
Set your alarm at the appropriate time for those two morning days, and throw two workout outfits in your car Sunday night before going to bed. That way, you’ve now given yourself a couple options of when you can get in those two workouts and you’ll have a little flexibility of when you get them done because you will have planned in advance.
For our second example (eating a serving of vegetables twice a day), you can start by taking a look at the meals you know you have control over. Most people have control over their breakfast, but may have lunch meetings or dinner meetings or have to eat on the go during work hours. Since there’s one meal you know you can plan out, plan to incorporate vegetables there. Cut up some veggies the night before so you can toss them into any easy omelette. Throw a handful of spinach into the blender when making a smoothie. Making sure you have easy, simple things on hand allows you to help reach that goal without really having to think about it. As for your second serving of vegetables, take a look at what your typical day looks like and when you get hungry. Do you always need a little afternoon snack around 2 or 3 PM? Grabbing snack sized packages of carrots at the store allows you to have something easy and portable to munch on and makes it easy to get in that second serving of vegetables.
By using these easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your health & fitness goals in a sustainable, easy to manage and accomplishing way.
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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