New Year's Resolutions.

While our site is focused on personal finance, one only need to get sick or see a family member ill to appreciate the phrase health is wealth. Obesity is a global problem. Inflammation associated with carrying excessive weight is a risk factor tied to many other diseases.

Health is wealth is why our site offers a weight loss goal calculator.

Fitness and weight loss are two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make year after year. They are also one of the most difficult to follow through.

Every January, gyms become crowded with newcomers. Classes become impossible to book. Weight machines become the site of long lines. Gym regulars roll their eyes at the newbies occupying the space they once had for themselves. Come February, they might breathe a sigh of relief when they get their elbow room back. Cue laugh track.

The odds, it seems, are stacked against your newfound commitment to health. You’re probably tempted to call it quits and the month isn’t even done yet. But before you throw in the towel, stop and reconsider. It might be high time to rethink your approach to meeting your resolution.

Rethinking Our Approach to Resolutions

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with resolutions. Fitness and weight management goals are an admirable personal commitment. Far from a matter of vanity, they are an investment in your wellbeing that will pay off for the rest of your life. Yet why do these big personal commitments fall flat by February?

People not fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions are a tired gag. Like clockwork, the admirable goals people set on New Year’s Day become a forgotten memory before Valentine’s. Studies show that only about 40 percent of people ever stand by their resolutions. Even fewer make it to December the following year.

The way people make resolutions, however, lies at the root of the problem. Too often, we get carried away with thinking of a big goal. We make our resolution a grand, often vague statement that seems too simple to fail. We jump in headlong to it, without any thought or strategy on how to keep it up past the honeymoon period. Subsequently, we get overwhelmed by what the goal entails.

All in the Planning

A resolution is an overarching goal. It should serve as a guide, but it shouldn’t be the first, last, and only step. Refining this resolution into a workable strategy is the key to committing to it.

The first thing you should do is make your resolution specific, yet flexible. A vague statement like “lose weight” may not be as sustainable in the long run. Meanwhile, setting an actual weight range to lose within the year is a clear goal to aspire. You now have a framework with which to direct most of your efforts. This also works for a goal like “exercise more.” A specific yet flexible amount of days at the gym is attainable within a reasonable length of time.

Don’t be too rigid with your goals. Even if you miss the mark come December, any progress you made in the interim is closer than you were at first.

Conserving Mental Energy

Our own mental energy might be another obstacle toward fulfilling our fitness resolutions. We sometimes put off exercise too long that we are exhausted mentally once we get around to doing it. This lack of mental fortitude might also explain why diet plans also fail. We follow the path of least resistance and end up falling back to poor habits on impulse.

The most efficient and disciplined people know how to conserve their mental energy. To do this, learn how to streamline your decision-making. Making fitness an everyday habit is key to preventing it from becoming an afterthought. The best way to do that is to break each goal further into smaller everyday steps. Take each step one at a time to avoid overtaxing your mental energy.

Seal it with a KISS

People do not always understand how to break down a big goal into attainable steps. This might be one of the biggest challenges you might face at first. The best way to put it is thus: “Keep it small and simple.” How small do the steps need to be? Each step should be small enough to set and forget. The first milestones should be so small that they are impossible to neglect.

This advice is especially useful if you are a fitness newcomer. Beginners will not have the physical endurance for intense, long-term cardio workouts. You can’t run for miles like some triathlon champ (yet). But you can run as fast as you can for about one or two minutes. Can’t go to the gym for six days a week? Go to the gym as many days as you can.

Doing small things regularly gives you a head start in building better health habits. You will turn your small, everyday fitness goals into a regular exercise regimen soon enough.

Set Realistic Goals

Woman Spinning in a Gym.

When refining your resolution, you might need to rethink or reword them a few times. Your goals should not only be specific; they should also be doable. In fitness, it pays to be flexible both figuratively and literally.

Sometimes, rethinking goals is a matter of physical limitations. To stay healthy, people cannot lose more than one or two pounds a week. Big weight loss goals should come with long time horizons. Realistic goal setting also helps you avoid making unhealthy choices. You might be tempted to take crash diets to meet a rigid weight milestone.

Committing to a reasonable goal might bring you closer to your intended outcomes. Losing 100 pounds in 365 days might be a stretch to do. Cutting down on refined sugar, meanwhile, is easier to do and contributes to the goal of helping you lose excess weight. Likewise, you might not be able to work toward an eight-pack by Summer 2020. Committing to a workout habit, meanwhile, would help you meet your body goals.

Make the Steps You Want to Take

Make each step you take toward your fitness goals as pleasurable as possible. It’s a lot easier to stick to a program if you’re enjoying yourself. When planning physical activities for your fitness plan, prioritize activities you enjoy. If you prefer playing basketball over running, then take up basketball.

Likewise, if you do not like running, don’t force yourself to run a marathon. If you really aren’t feeling a fitness regimen, there’s no point in tormenting yourself with it. Don’t let meeting your goals take the fun out of the journey. It will be a matter of trial and error, but it’s well worth the effort. The best fitness program is the one you can stick to.

Developing an Effective Fitness Resolution

An effective workout or diet plan builds on the following things:

  • Your current health
  • Your schedule
  • Your personal preferences

A good fitness goal must fit within your ability to commit. Be patient and take all the time you need. Instantaneous transformations are for fictional characters like Captain America and She-Hulk.

First, ask your doctor before engaging in any exercise program or diet plan. Your current health might not always support certain strenuous activities. Your heart might enjoy a light cardio workout program. You might need to improve your posture through specific exercises. Working out as directed can also help you prevent injuries. The guidance of a physician will give you the insight needed to create a workout plan that suits your needs.

A Matter of Diet

Woman Eating Vegetables.

You can’t expect to drop a few pounds without adjusting your diet. Like it or not, you’ll need to consume less calories than what you usually take in. Your diet plan should cut back on excess sugars and fats without depriving the body of nutrients.

Many famous weight-loss diets need both discipline and a level of investment. For instance, paleo and ketogenic diets may need you to buy more meats and vegetables. Plant-based diets may need a source of specialty ingredients. Restrictive diets such as these may not always be a practical option.

Ask for your physician’s opinion before proceeding with any diet, especially restrictive ones. Nutritional deficiencies, for instance, might prevent you from taking a specific diet.

Eating Habits

Most diet plans demand a level of discipline that can be difficult to adapt to at first. Lifestyle considerations are an important factor. You might need to spend more time cooking and pre-preparing all your meals at home. Ask yourself if you can afford the time investment to commit to restrictive diets. Your preferences are also a key consideration. A diet you’ve tried may not have been to your liking.

You might need to overcome a few poor habits to succeed in your diet plans. Have a ready supply of fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetable sticks available on hand. These healthy snacks can help you survive your compulsion to snack at different times of the day. Choose the healthy snacks that you like eating. It is pointless to pack apples if you don’t like apples to begin with.

Proper Form

Knowledge is your biggest ally in meeting your fitness goals. When you’re in the gym for strength training, you might be excited to lift the heaviest sets you can carry right away. Step back for a while and reconsider how you’re doing your workouts.

Many exercises rely on proper form to be effective. Without it, you would just be tiring yourself out, moving heavy things with little gain to show for it. You also open yourself up to the risk of getting injured, which is the best way to derail your workout plan.

Take the time to learn the proper form for every exercise you perform. Proper form engages the muscles and helps develop them in an efficient manner.

Staying Committed

It’s easy to lose sight of your goals if you can’t track them in any quantifiable way. Recording your progress helps you measure your small everyday successes. If you write things down, you’ll know whether you’re on track or if you need to try harder. Recording your progress also keeps you accountable for every fitness decision you make.

There are many ways to measure your fitness and weight management. Besides the pounds you lose, you can also measure the following:

  • The times you attend gym in a week
  • The number of reps and sets in each workout
  • The miles (or steps) you run per day
  • Your body mass index

Take out your new coffee shop planners out for a spin and start the fitness journal habit. Write down each of the fitness goals you’ve managed to do. A fitness tracker like FitBit might be able to help you if you’re already committed to a workout plan.

Make it Public

Outdoor Exercise Activities.

Another way to reinforce your commitment to your resolutions is to make it public. Good friends and beloved family members will support your endeavors toward better health. Family members and friends aren’t just there for moral support and the occasional tough love. They can help you adapt to your new diets and remind you of workout programs. Moreover, like-minded family and friends may even join you.

And you don’t have to diet or exercise alone. Joining a group has its range of benefits. Spending time with likeminded individuals helps you reinforce positive behaviors. You can also learn a lot from community gatherings. Workout groups share tips on proper form, for instance. Finally, these new social groups can become the main draw for your diet and exercise efforts. Your desire to spend time with your new friends is great motivation to attend a sport or fitness class.

Dealing with Failure

Failure is a natural part of every process. Despite your best efforts, you will slip up. You will break your diet with one too many sweets at least once or thrice. On some days, the desire to be lazy might trump your willpower to exercise. At times, life gets in the way and you need to make way for other things.

Don’t take your failures to heart. If you fail the first time to stay committed to your fitness regimen, start again. You don’t need to wait for the next year to get back on track with your fitness. If you fell of the wagon, get back on. Pick up where you last left off, learn where you went wrong, and move forward.

Moving Forward

A resolution is a guide. It is only as good as the steps you take toward it. Make your goals clear and make each step forward easy and realistic. Don’t ask too much from yourself at once. Remember, a mountain does not bow to a single, strong gale. It erodes with the passing of continuous winds.

As you commit to a healthy lifestyle, be sure to remember the difficulties and setbacks you meet along away. Be kind and supportive to your fellow January gym people. You all made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Patience and support go a long way.

Thanks for Reading

Please come again!