A new year is the perfect chance to start over and change the habits we’re not happy with, and every year plenty of Americans take the opportunity. Close to one-third of Americans make a New Year’s resolution related to fitness or weight loss every year. Unfortunately, about a third of all resolvers give up on their new healthy habits by the end of January, and almost three-quarters quit before completing their goal.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who’s made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get fit in 2016, now is around the time when your dedication will be put to the test. If you’re committed to your weight loss goals for 2016 and are looking for some advice to help you beat the odds and be a part of the 25% that follows through, keep reading.
If your resolution is simply “lose weight” or “get into better shape” you might want to think of something a little more concrete. Not only do vague goals like these make it difficult or impossible to track your progress, they also make it easier to get discouraged and give up altogether. One study published by the National Institutes of Health even found a link between setting non-specific goals and depression.
A smarter approach is to set specific, attainable goals. Instead of “lose weight,” your fitness resolution should be something like “lose 10 pounds by the first day of spring.” Better than “get into shape” is “spend three hours a week at the gym” or “do 10 pullups in a row.” The more specific your “what” and “how” the better. But be sure your goals are realistic – if you’re an average person and you’re dead-set on having six pack abs by Easter, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
Part of setting a specific, attainable goal is keeping track of your progress. A good way to do this is with a fitness journal. Break down your goals into numeric components – pounds lost, calories eaten, calories burned, minutes at the gym. This will provide an important tool show you how far you’ve come and maintain your motivation, in addition to helping identify weak spots and problem behaviors.
If you’re not a big fan of longhand, there are dozens of fitness apps that can help you keep on top of your resolution.
There’s no way around it: losing weight or getting into shape can be frustrating. Results won’t always come as quickly as we want, and there can often be a stubborn final hump to get over. Your natural reaction to this frustration might be to blame yourself or think it’s hopeless, but this only leads to poor results in the long term.
If you were shooting to lose 5 pounds by the end of the month and you only managed 4, the last thing you should do is use this as an excuse to throw your hands up and call it quits. This only guarantees your results will be worse in the months to come! Keep positive, focus on what you have achieved, and use any setbacks as opportunities to learn rather than excuses to give up.
If your fitness regimen consists entirely of running on the treadmill and eating the same salad every day for lunch, it might not be long before you lose interest and fall off track. Keep things interesting by mixing your diet and workouts up.
Getting sick of the treadmill? Sign up for a spin class or go for a hike. Tired of the same low-calorie lunch? Find something new that you can look forward to. Anything you can do to make your fitness plan more engaging is a step in the right direction.
Healthy habits aren’t a death sentence, they’re a chance to write a new chapter in your life. Depriving yourself of small pleasures not only means you’re missing out on some of life’s joy but it also makes giving up on your resolution more likely.
Rather than focusing on what you can’t or won’t have anymore, try to keep motivated by rewarding yourself for what you’ve accomplished. Buy a new outfit if you’ve dropped a dress size; use the money you’ve saved on eating out to go on a weekend getaway; treat yourself to a serving of your favorite dessert after a few weeks of healthy eating. Whatever works with your specific goals, makes you happy, and keeps you motivated is a good thing.
Chances are you know someone else who’s made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get fit. For many people, a fitness buddy can help them stay motivated and keep on track with their healthy habits. Scientific studies have also confirmed this, finding that people who lose weight with a buddy are more likely to stick with it and shed more pounds overall.
But even if you don’t have a weight loss buddy, it can be helpful to “come out” to your friends and family about your fitness goals. A good support system is important in reaching any goal, and weight loss is no exception.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. Losing weight isn’t easy, and there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to a dietician, personal trainer, or other professional. The team at Medical Weight Loss Solutions includes doctors, nutrition specialists, and trainers who will work with you to find a plan to help optimize your health and weight loss outcomes. Get in touch with them to learn more.