The New You

Finding the motivation to change.

Most Common New Year’s Resolutions… and do they work?

Most Common New Year’s Resolutions… and do they work?

Studies show that the most common New Year’s Resolutions are losing weight, exercising more, and quitting smoking. Other popular resolutions include: managing debt, saving money, getting a better job or education, reducing stress, taking a trip or volunteering.

We all set our goals high and then we unfortunately spend January 2nd beating ourselves up for falling short on our diet and exercise plans. If you are considering making a resolution, the good news is that some studies suggest that by making a resolution you are 10 times more likely to succeed in your goal. But is making the resolution really enough? Are there other things you can do to increase your chances that your new commitment to your health will stick long into the New Year and beyond?

There are a few strategies that you can use to help you succeed in sticking with your resolution. Let’s focus on an example resolution of exercising more.  It can be very helpful to write out why you are trying to make this change. For example, are you trying to get fit to impress your romantic partner or to attract the romantic partner you hope to have? Or perhaps going to the gym is more related to your desire to prevent negative health consequences in the future.

Enjoyment is the key factor in succeeding in your fitness goal. Most people focus on an outcome related to their weight or body image. We all know that these goals take a lot of time and effort to reach and many of us give up when our focus is dedicated solely to seeing that number drop on a scale or that special pair of jeans slide on more easily. However, we are liable to have more success when we can turn our attention to the very act of enjoying our gym routine. Try to focus on challenging yourself at the gym with new activities each week that require both your mind and body to adapt. Not only do most trainers agree that it is most effective to vary your workout routines, but it is also likely that by keeping your gym activities novel, diverse and challenging you will stick with your commitment to fitness.

The most important factor in strategizing with regard to your fitness routine is removing as many obstacles that may impede your success as possible. It is tempting to join a gym that is a few dollars cheaper, but you may be cheating yourself if this also means a longer walk to get there. Try to pick a gym that is as convenient and as comfortable for you as possible. Keep as much of your equipment and toiletries that you’ll need at the gym in a locker so that you’ll minimize the effort required in preparing. Routine is your friend. Having dedicated times each week in which you know you have blocked off for the gym will help you to stick with a program. Think about what other things may prevent you from sticking to your routine such as other business engagements and try to plan around them. Think about risky situations (stores with lots of sweets) and try to make plans ahead of time of how to avoid them.

 Lastly many well planned gym agendas are disrupted by vacations, illnesses or projects at work or school. Once you have taken a break for personal or external reasons it can sometimes be difficult to get back in a routine. Try to get back to the gym as soon as possible even if you are unable to maintain your ideal activity level there. The longer you spend away, the harder it will be to get back to your plan. Good luck and Happy New Year!

 Follow Dr. Fader on Twitter @drfader

Jonathan Fader, Ph.D., is a psychologist and an assistant professor of family medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

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