How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

What makes a New Year’s resolution stick? Those Nike commercials made it sound so simple: Just do it. But when it comes to acting on our healthy resolutions, lots of us just… don’t.

Some of the most popular goals getting fit, managing stress, and saving money are great ideas, but they’re as vague as advertising slogans. Maybe that’s why 30 percent of people who make a January 1 resolution scale back by mid-month, and most give up by June.

Is the solution to avoid setting goals for the year ahead? Not when the choices we make today have such a profound impact on our wellness and longevity. Studies show that maintaining healthy habits can reduce the risk of chronic diseases by up to 80 percent!

Instead, we asked the experts for their tips on turning a hopeful resolution into a healthy habit for life.

Steps to Crushing Your Resolutions

Need some specific and tactical resolution tips? Try these strategies:

Make Goals Attainable
Consult with your doctor or a personal trainer to set realistic goals. The more successful you are with your fitness program, the more you’ll want to stay with it. Trainer and sports psychologist Kathryn Wilder, PhD, suggests setting S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.

Get a Buddy
Rather than going it alone, consider teaming up with a friend who is also interested in getting fit. You can motivate each other. On days when you aren’t feeling enthusiastic, knowing your buddy is expecting you at the gym or in the park can help keep you accountable.

Think Outside the Gym
It isn’t necessary to work out in a gym to get fit, and you may find that other forms of activity are better suited to your preferences, budget, and schedule. Whether you try dancing, take to the hills for a hike, zen out with an online yoga video, or simply get up from your desk and move around more often, thinking outside the gym can be a great way to counter the exercise doldrums.

Join a Group
Look for Meetups in your area that focus on physical activity (tennis, golfing, etc.), or sign up for a membership at your local yoga studio or gym. The group atmosphere and social interaction may well be what it takes to keep you coming back.

Commit to Your Goals in Public
Aside from finding a buddy or joining a group, you could join a gym, make healthy selections at restaurants, or share your trials and successes with friends and family. According to one study, women were 10 percent more likely to achieve success when they made their goals public, garnered support from their community, and received encouragement to persist in spite of challenges.

Schedule Your Workouts
Treat your workout just as you would an important meeting on your calendar. Plan ahead and lay out your workout gear in advance to make keeping your exercise appointment easier.

Mix Up Your Routine
If your exercise regime usually consists of cardio, switch things up and try weight training. Adding variety to your workouts staves off boredom and promotes overall fitness.

Get Inspired
Follow social media accounts and blogs that inspire you to pursue health and fitness. Seeing the success of others will encourage you to continue on your fitness journey.

Leverage Technology
Nifty technological tools can help you stick to your fitness goals. These apps and fitness trackers (such as the popular Fitbit) enable you to track your progress, and you can further increase your motivation by competing with friends and family to see who can take the most steps in a day.

Track Your Progress
Record quantifiable measurements of your progress, such as reps completed or steps walked. One study found that exercise app users were more likely to exercise in their leisure time than those who did not track their progress.

Hold Yourself Accountable in Measurable Ways
Record quantifiable measurements of your progress, such as reps completed or steps walked. One study found that exercise app users were more likely to exercise in their leisure time than those who did not track their progress.

Dial in Your Diet
If your interest in fitness wanes, try adding new, healthful foods to your meals. As you eat more nutritious food (and crowd out the junk), you will be able to avoid the lethargy caused by unstable blood sugar and have more energy for your workout.

Refocus on Your “Why”
Do you want to have more energy to play with your kids? Feel more confident in your clothes? Be able to explore the great outdoors? Whatever your goal, remembering why you made the commitment to exercise will motivate you to stay the course.

Envision Your Future Self
Imagine feeling strong, lean, and comfortable in your body. Research shows that seeing con-tinuity between your present and future self decreases procrastination and improves performance.

Anticipate Setbacks
This may seem counterintuitive, but realizing that you will not achieve perfection prevents an all-or-nothing mentality. Missing a few workouts doesn’t have to lead to throwing in the towel.

Reassess Your Goals
Periodically take stock of your progress. As you achieve your fitness goals, set new ones. If you realize some goals were unrealistic, modify them.

Shift Your Mindset
Rather than seeing exercise as something you do, start seeing it as a part of your identity: You are the kind of person who loves to exercise. This shift in mindset can take getting more exercise from a simple New Year’s resolution to a permanent part of your life.

Narrowing Your Focus

Pick a resolution you haven’t attempted before
If you’ve already tried a resolution and failed, you may be setting yourself up for failure again. Instead, pick a new resolution! It’ll give you a fresh start and get you a little more inspired.

Make only one resolution
You may have big plans for self-improvement, but avoid creating a to-do list-style document crammed with resolutions. Rather, focus on just one. That way, you can put all your energy into achieving it, and you won’t be disappointed when you don’t check off all 20 resolutions on your list.

Focus on one behavior
Your resolution should address a single behavior. If you address multiple, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed and throw in the towel.

Make your resolution specific
Vague goals seem more abstract, and therefore are more difficult to achieve. By contrast, specific goals are more actionable.

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