Every year, thousands of people embark on a journey. Of those people, a mere 10 percent are successful.
A statistic like that may conjure ideas of extreme races, vows of silence or other seemingly impossible endeavors. But it actually pertains to New Year’s resolutions.
While the New Year may be the perfect time to challenge yourself, get healthy and try something new, people often overdo it.
It’s fun to motivate yourself with lofty goals and obscure challenges, but the problem is, small changes are hard to make in the first place, and even more difficult to stick to. Sure, cutting carbs and losing 12 pounds in two weeks sounds great, but it often ends in a bread binge and more weight gained than shed. Similarly, training for a half marathon may seem like the perfect way to get into shape, but if you don’t train properly, it can end up with a life-long injury and months off your feet.
As someone who’s spent every New Year’s Day making a resolution list longer than my Christmas lists as a child, I can sympathize. A few of my resolution failures include a year of vegetarianism that ended with a heaping plate of orange chicken from Panda Express, a goal to run a half marathon that resulted in hip surgery, and an aspiration to start a novel that ended with an endless list of book names, little to no story ideas and lost inspiration.
Fortunately, I’ve learned from those failures. I know that putting too much on my plate will leave me overloaded and unsatisfied. I know that putting too much pressure on myself and being unrealistic can be dangerous.
I also know that what makes goals stick is starting small — which is why these are the only fitness resolutions I’m making this year. These just might work for you, too.
1. Diversify your routine. I could go to yoga every day and be happy but my body type requires cardio to stay lean, and even yoga doesn’t target all of your muscles (despite popular belief). If you love to run, add 5-10 minutes of pushups and ab exercises to your cool down. If you love pilates and other toning classes, go for a light jog on your days off or a spin class to up your cardio. If you love lifting weights, try a yoga class to help stretch your body and target smaller muscle groups. The key is to balance the muscles you work, and the way you work them, and to keep your body challenged.
2. Try a new workout. Changing up your routine is scientifically proven to help you get fitter, and faster. That said, finding time for something totally new can be tough — and nerve wracking. Instead of incorporating something new into your schedule once a month, try to start just by doing something new once. It’s an easy way to hit your goal and is great for your body. The best part: Doing it once will inspire you to do it again throughout the year. I also encourage going with friends. It’s a fun alternative to happy hour and looking silly in front of pals is much easier than flying solo.
3. Make small changes to your diet. When it comes to fitness, half of the battle is what you eat. Avoid the no carb craze, and instead pick small changes that are realistic. These are some of my favorite modifications: 1) Don’t eat carbs after 6 p.m., 2) drink more water, 3) cut your dessert intake in half, 4) incorporate produce into all of your meals. Once a small change becomes a habit, introduce a new one. By the end of the year, you’ll have adopted several new healthy habits.
4. Reward progress. While healthy living is certainly a trend (and a great one at that!) it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If an exercise high isn’t enough to motivate you to get out the door and into the gym, reward yourself with something you do love. For example, if you make it to the gym four times a week, treat yourself to a burger and fries or a bottle of wine while relaxing on the couch. I like to reward myself with new workout gear and weekend trips away. It makes me feel like I’ve earned it, and it also helps me make working out a priority, and a habit.
No matter your resolutions, make sure to go easy on yourself. If you fail, try again! If you decide to ditch your resolution for good, so be it. We’re only human.