7 Ways to Stick to Your Fitness New Year’s Resolutions
This is the time of year for making New Year Resolutions, consciously or sub-consciously. I say subconsciously as many of us have written off making such resolutions as we often don’t achieve them. Yet, deep down in our subconscious we are often wishing to be better in various areas in our life such as our health and fitness. I think making goals is a great way to start of the year with a positive frame of mind. Hence, I share 7 tips here on achieving your fitness and health goals for 2015.
Signing up for an event is a great way to set a tangible goal for a new year’s resolution. Whether it is signing up for an event like a half-marathon or planning a local hiking trip or a backpacking holiday to a destination like Nepal, the event provides you with a goal to work towards. Signing-up could also involve joining a gym, hiring a personal trainer or signing up for group classes in a gym. Of course, if you have not been engaging in physical activity in a while, it is imperative you see a doctor to get a physical check-up first.
2. Sign-up for a specific event
Notice that my suggestions above are for specific events such as signing up for a particular half-marathon or planning for a specific trip, such as climbing a local mountain. In the Southeast Asian region, a popular goal is climbing up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. One of the most important characteristics of a successful goal is that it has to be specific. So, a vague goal such as becoming fitter or losing weight is not going to work. You need to make it as specific as possible.
3. Sign-up with a buddy
If you sign-up for an event, get a family member or friend to join you. Working together on a goal really helps as you have others to encourage you. Moreover, if are signing up for a physical challenge, you get to exercise and train with someone you know, and that will help you to set aside the time. Hence, instead of meeting up your friend for a meal, you can meet up with your friend for a walk, run, hike or work out at the gym. There will be days when you don’t feel like exercising but meeting up a friend or family member makes it much easier. For myself, I try to exercise with my family whenever possible, so I’m really glad my daughter loves to scooter as I can run with her while she scooters. Here is a link regarding my daughter’s love of scootering. Psychologist Richard Ryan of Rochester University has argued that we all have a need for relatedness and competence. By setting your goals with others, you are meeting both of these needs. Working on your goal with someone else helps you satisfy your need for relatedness, and while your confidence improves as you work towards your goal your will meet your need for competence.
- Sign-up for an activity that can be broken into sub-goals
By breaking down your new year’s resolutions to sub-goals, you will meet your need for competence, and feel better about yourself as you work towards your final goal. For example, let’s say that you have not been exercising at all for a while. Your New Year’s Resolution is to exercise 4 times a week. Hence, you are trying to change from not exercising at all to exercising four times a week; an appropriate sub-goal would be to exercise twice a week. Once you meet your goal of exercising twice a week, you will feel better about yourself, and this feeling of competence will motivate you to sustain your efforts, and to even improve yourself further.
- Sign-up for a goal that you will enjoy
In addition to the meeting our need for competence and relatedness, Professor Ryan has argued that we humans also a need for autonomy. In other words, we love being able to make choices, and we are more motivated to work towards goals of our own choosing rather than goals that are assigned to us. So, by all means, choose a new year resolution that you will enjoy. Please don’t choose a goal that has been suggested to you by your spouse, family member or friend. Choose something on your own. Choose something you will enjoy!
- Sign-up with obstacles in mind
Professor Gabrielle Oettingen of New York University has done a great deal of research to show that just making a wish may not be enough in helping you to achieve a goal. Rather, she has suggested an exercise called “mental contrasting.” In this exercise, first, you think of all the positive outcomes related to achieving your goal. Then, you think of the obstacles in achieving your goal. Hence, that could lead to thinking about ways and actions to overcome these obstacles. For example, “not having enough time” could be an obstacle in achieving your new year resolution of completing a half-marathon this year. By considering your obstacles, you can start brainstorming about ways to find more time to exercise. Professor Oettingen found that this simple exercise was able to help adults exercise more, and adopt more healthy diets, and also help children to improve their academic performance and attendance in school.
- Sign-up with a realistic goal
I think it is important to set realistic goals. If you have hardly run in your life, I don’t think it is realistic to run a marathon this year. Instead you can aim for a 5K or 10K race. If you set unrealistic goals you may end up injuring yourself. If you have an ambitious goal, break it up to smaller goals or sub-goals. For example, if running a marathon is at the top of your bucket list, try running a 10K or a half-marathon first. By talking to friends and family, you can get an idea of what goals are realistic or not.
Please feel free to discuss here as well about what goals may or may not be realistic. What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015? Do you think your New Year’s Resolutions are realistic?
Written with Guest Blogger for Royal Rae – Dr. Albert Liau