The transition to a new year is exciting and motivating, inspiring people worldwide to transform their lives for the better. In the US alone, nearly 200 million Americans set fresh goals each year. But far fewer actually achieve those goals. According to US News, 8 out of 10 people renege on their New Year’s resolutions by the second week of February. If we all want so badly to be fit and healthy, why is it so hard to muster up the willpower to stand by your annual decision to get in shape? If you’ve made a commitment to lose weight in 2017, but you’re not sure how to keep your New Year’s resolution, follow these 4 simple tips.
Pick the Right Exercises
When starting a new workout routine, people tend to plan arduous workouts with the thought that they’ll see huge results quickly. But, planning intense exercise and doing intense exercise is very different. Research shows that you’re more likely to stick with a routine that’s not overly strenuous and that matches your capabilities; and you’re more likely to quit if the workout is too difficult. A recent study published by “Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport” concluded that one of the most reliable determinants in predicting adherence to an exercise routine is a feeling of self-efficacy. Researchers found that “[people] who had not yet begun to exercise, in contrast with those who exercised regularly, had little confidence in their ability to exercise.” A similar study published in “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” came to the same conclusion. The researchers point out that people who struggled with their exercise routine or could not complete all of their planned exercises were more likely to quit working out altogether. Bearing this in mind, design a routine that is manageable, both physically and mentally, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Track Your Meals
If workouts aren’t the problem, shift your focus to what you’re eating. Studies find that writing down what you eat is one of the most effective ways to make better food choices and curb calorie intake. A study funded by the Nation Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sampled nearly 1700 people in an attempt to find the most effective solutions for weight loss. Participants were asked to attend weight loss meetings, keep diaries of their food intake, exercise moderately, and follow a fruit- and veggie-rich diet during the six month study. Researchers found that those who recorded their food intake every day lost twice as much weight as participants who did not keep records of their meals. So, simply being mindful of your daily food choices causes a decrease in calorie intake, leading to weight loss and a trimmer figure (without trying too hard).
Make Small, Slow Changes
For many, the problem is just getting started. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, argues that “it all boils down to self-discipline.” Luciani recommends developing your "determination muscles" by setting small goals like folding your clothes as soon as the dryer is done or finishing your homework before turning on the television. Luciani also recommends challenging yourself to speak only of the goals that you are able to attain and never going back on a promise you’ve made. By sticking by your word, you teach yourself that your self-promises are valuable and sincere.
When you make plans to exercise, choose exercises that are fun for you: playing soccer with the kids, swimming at sunset, going for a run with the dog, or gardening. Activities that you enjoy are far more appealing than grueling workouts, so you’ll be more likely to actually do them. If doing fun workouts isn’t enough for you to stick with the program, make plans to exercise with a friend (preferably, one who can commit). They’ll motivate you to continue long workouts and distract you through difficult exercises.
Hold Yourself Accountable
One sure-fire way to keep your head in the game is to be vocal about your fitness triumphs. Though sharing your successes with the online world may seem vain, letting others in on your new lifestyle is a simple way to ensure that you stick with it. Studies find that people who utilize social networking sites to facilitate their weight loss journey lowered their BMI further than participants who were not involved in social networking. So, tweet, snap, and post away!
If you’ve set your sights on getting fit in 2017, start slowly. Stressful workouts and strict diets are guaranteed to make you lose your mind and back-pedal on your commitment to your New Year’s resolution.