New Years Resolutions: Yay or Nay?
The vast majority of resolutions are positive life changing goals, so the answer is YES, you should absolutely set a New Year’s resolution! However, resolutions tend to have high failure rates and this is why. It's a matter of semantics.
What? What does that mean?
Well the reason resolutions tend to fail is because by definition they are the first of several steps in creating change and often people stop at that step, making the resolution and that's it.
Let me explain.
By definition a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It's precontemplation and that's the first of SIX stages that someone needs to go through to reach their goals and keep their results. You've made the decision to do something (exercise more) or not do something (eat junk food) but you can't stop there and alot of people do.
The next step is to set an intention or a plan; the plan as to how you intend to exercise more or not eat junk food. Part of this intention is to think about "why" you want to make this resolution in the first place. Be honest with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Take some actual time to think about it. You'd be surprised that maybe there is different way to go about the resolution.
I've had clients who said they wanted to exercise more because they were unhappy with how they were treated by people in their lives. They felt pressure to fit in or were being body or exercise shamed. Maybe it's a case of expanding your circle to like minded people or remembering what you love about exercise in the first place. Maybe you like to ski and exercise helps you stay on the slopes longer. Maybe you like to dance so Zumba class is where you find happiness. It's possible you could look at becoming a ski or group fitness instructor and that will be what gets you exercising more and meeting more people. It's really as simple yet as complex as that!
But back to how to make your resolution an actual tangible thing.
The final step in the resolution process, which is constantly changing because life happens is to set a goal and not just any goal, SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Sensitive).
Goals are the aims or desired results so if you want to exercise more you would set out a plan on how to go about this but you need to be specific about it.
What constitutes "more" exercise? Is it an increase of the number of days you currently work out? Is it the quality of the workouts that needs improving? And how will you measure "more" exercise? Number of scans at the gym? Track with your mobile device or Fitbit? Will this plan be attainable and something you can maintain consistently? That's very important. And is the specific plan you've set out relevant to your resolution? Meaning if you want to increase from 2 days a week of exercise to 3 days, is jumping into a 30 day challenge that requires 5 days/week of workouts one that makes sense?
Side note: Here's my issue with Challenge Programs for Beginners or those with goals of just slightly increasing their output in terms of numbers of workouts or days of exercise. Aiming high but falling short may allow you to hit your ultimate goal of numbers of days per week of exercise, this negative reinforcement is bound to eventually catch up with you. So the program calls for 5 days of workouts, you consistently miss 2 so you've completed 3 which is one more than what you had been doing originally. You miss workouts that were set up to build off each other and then you end up injured, feeling sad for "failing" or not being able to work out at all and then you're back to square one.
This brings me to the final step in really nailing down that resolution and that is the goal being Time Sensitive. Wanting to exercise more is literally the vaguest thing I've ever heard and I have heard it for over 30 years from clients and group fitness class participants. In my book, How to be Fit for Life - Eight Proven Steps to Reaching Your Fitness Goals, Getting Results and Keeping Them and Living the Fitness Life, I talk about making fitness a lifelong journey.
The thing to remember that life has stages and is dynamic so although a lifetime seems like a longtime it isn't if you set Time Sensitive Goals to keep things fresh, decrease significant relapses and plateaus. There's nothing wrong with a resolution to stop eating junkfood to lose weight for a wedding 6 months down the road. Just set up a detailed nutrition plan that is attainable, relevant and measure your progress (I always go with inches and how clothing feels versus scales for non-medical weight loss goals) and when the wedding comes and goes, look for the next milestone or no doubt you will be feeling great and so work on how to maintain your progress.
Interested in a fitness/wellness consultation or have some questions about nutrition and your current fitness program? Join any of my groups online (Facebook) and/or pick up my book, How to be Fit for Life - Eight Proven Steps to Reaching Your Fitness Goals, Getting Results, and Living the Fitness Life for more help with your fitness journey. And please feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have:).