31 December 2010 ~ Comments Off on Tips for Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution

Tips for Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution

Okay, a little tonight. But tomorrow... (Photo by John Morgan)

New Year’s Day usually brings two major changes: the need for a new wall calendar, and the start of millions of new year’s resolutions. Statistics, however, paint a bleak picture where fitness resolutions are concerned: of the millions joining gyms in January, only about 10% will last into February.

I want you to beat the odds, so I’ve compiled a few simple resolution-keeping tips, whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle or just live a healthier lifestyle:

Don’t Tell Everyone

We live in a sharing society, but psychologists have found that people who tell everyone their goals are less likely to achieve them. Why? Your brain gives you the illusion that you’ve accomplished the goal already. (There’s more in this TED talk from entrepreneur Derek Sivers.) There are two ways around this:

  • If you have wonderful willpower, just surprise everyone with your achievement.
  • If you don’t have great willpower, tell your friends/family but have them track you or join you.

Go Big (But Be Specific)

Just want to drop that “last 5 pounds” or “start running again”? Studies have found that people who set higher goals accomplish more than those who set “realistic” goals.

What’s your ultimate goal? Go there. Just make it a specific, actionable goal (“I want to get to 15% bodyfat,” “I want to run a marathon without walking.”) That way, when you do drop the last 5 or run that 10k that would have been more “realistic,” you not only get there faster, you have a new goal already waiting.

Don’t Try for Perfection and You Won’t Find Failure

Some days I don’t get to the gym. I’m on a deadline, or it’s insanely snowing out. Does that derail me? Nope. I change into my workout gear and start a routine of bodyweight movements—or if I really want to go for it, tabata intervals of burpees. Zero equipment, 10 minutes max.

If you can’t do what you initially planned, back off but do something. Walk around the block if that’s all you can manage. Keep the forward motion and you stay on track.

Don’t Let the Gym Scare You Off

This is specific advice for those who are joining a gym for the first time—when you first show up, you may not know anyone and may have to get used to the equipment. Maybe you’re intimidated by the gym rats who seem to all know each other. It’s kind of like the first day of a new school when you were a kid, right?

It gets better with time. Do your workout. Bring some good music. Pay no attention to the muscleheads, and do not emulate them! The gym’s for everyone, and I’ll tell you a little secret: if you’re obeying all the gym rules, you’re a better customer than most of them.

Seek Help When You Need It

When you’re feeling stuck or just want some support, don’t be afraid to ask. Even those muscleheads will usually be happy to show you how to do an exercise. Talk to the desk staff if you have questions about the club or its rules. Try a personal training session if you can afford it. (If you can’t afford it, I’m about to release a program that’s just like having your own personal trainer for no ongoing cost!)

For general questions or support you can always e-mail me or leave a comment on any article. I read them all.

Have Fun

Above all, any trip is about the journey as much as the destination, and a fitness goal is no different. Look for the fun in your workouts, the joy in the healthy food you eat, and before you know it your goal will arrive.

A New Year’s Resolution is just another occasion to reaffirm your goals. The daily steps you take are much more important than the resolution itself.

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