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Posted on 2016-01-15

6 ways to keep your fitness resolutions

Just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, according to research from the University of Scranton. In 2016, resolve to become part of that elite group by sticking with your fitness goals. At two weeks into the New Year, it is a good time to evaluate your resolution and make adjustments to ensure that you are on track to hit your goals.

Set a “SMART” Goal

One of the biggest reasons people fail to meet their New Year’s resolutions is that they do not set reasonable goals for themselves. Vowing to lose 100 pounds or to go from being a couch potato to running a marathon just may not be reasonable. The best New Year’s resolutions are SMART:

  • Specific. The vague goal “get healthier this year” simply won’t cut it. Get specific in your goals. Do you want to run faster? Build lean muscle mass? Target fat in a particular area?
  • Measurable. Good goals can be measured, giving you a tangible sense of your progress. Focus on goals that are concrete and measurable: swimming time, weight lifted, or pounds lost.
  • Achievable. Being too ambitious is a surefire way to abandon your New Year’s resolution early. Think about a reasonable goal that you can maintain with consistent progress throughout the year.
  • Results-focused. Rather than measuring activities, goals should measure concrete outcomes. For example, perhaps you’d like your blood pressure to drop or to lose two dress sizes.
  • Time-bound. To achieve a goal, it is best to have a clear timeline in sight. New Year’s resolutions nicely lend themselves to a one-year timeline. However, you may have a particular race you’d like to complete or milestone to achieve at another point during the year.

Keep Things Slow and Steady

By two weeks into the New Year, many people give up on their resolutions because they are not seeing results. Keep in mind that achieving good physical fitness is a lifetime journey. Be realistic in your expectations for yourself. If you resolved to workout in the privacy of your own home gym six or seven days per week, you are unlikely to achieve that goal (at least right away). Instead, aim for a reasonable 3 to 4 days per week. Slow and steady progress is the backbone of any fitness resolution. Also remember that maintaining a slow and steady pace to your fitness expectations is a good way to avoid injury. Some people begin the New Year by going from a nearly sedentary lifestyle to exercising 6 days per week. This can lead to stress injuries that can derail your current progress, as well as make it less likely that you will return to the gym once you are healed.

Create a Plan

A New Year’s resolution is not the same thing as a plan. The resolution is a goal that tells you where you want to be by the end of the year, but it doesn’t give you much information about how you will get there. If you haven’t already done so, begin creating a specific plan now. Keep in mind that your fitness plan is a living document that can be modified as the year goes on. Entering your workout plan into a calendar will help you stay on track. If you know the time of day you’re most likely to exercise, enter it into your calendar 3 or 4 days per week. Also set smaller goals for yourself throughout the year. This might include “lose 5 pounds by February 1st” or “run a 5k in under 30 minutes in June.” These smaller goals will help you stay on track with your broader New Year’s resolution.

Use an App

2016 is a great year to start using a fitness app. This ties back to your SMART goals, giving you an easy way to quantify and measure progress. Apps are inherently motivating, because they give you the opportunity to review your progress with easy-to-use graphics. Wearable tech will automatically track your fitness and allow you to set goals for yourself. For example, all NordicTrack equipment comes with iFit smart fitness Tracking technology. This allows you to create custom workouts, automatically track progress, and access special workouts from top trainers.

Cut Yourself Some Slack If You Slip Up

It is highly unlikely that you will perfectly comply with your exercise plan for 2016. And that’s okay! Illness, injury, or unexpected life situations may throw you a curve ball. The difference between people who successfully meet their goals and those who do not is in how they handle these unexpected situations. Missing a day at the gym is not a catastrophe; it is an opportunity to be kind to yourself and learn from the experience. If you slip up, avoiding thinking, “Now my entire New Year’s resolution is blown,” or, “I’ll never hit my goal.” Instead, take an honest look at the situation and ask yourself how you can do better next time. Perhaps you are more likely to skip gym time when you put it off until the end of the day. If so, modify your schedule so you exercise in the morning at least a few times per week. Critically analyze performance and make adjustments as necessary to stay on track.

Find Social Support

A good gym buddy is worth their weight in gold. Working out with someone else is a good way to keep your motivation high. Find a gym buddy who is committed to similar goals or workout intensity. This will allow you both to benefit from one another’s energy and motivation. When you hit an important milestone, telling someone about it can solidify the success in your mind. It is harder to hit the snooze button when you know that someone is waiting for you at the gym. However, it is important to ensure that your gym friend is a positive force in your life, not a negative one. Avoid individuals who are critical or get upset about minor setbacks, as this will zap your motivation.