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It’s a brand new year and you’ve decided that you want to make some positive changes in your life. Enthusiasm for a fresh start at the beginning of the year can be a great motivation for self-improvement and setting New Year’s resolutions. But come February many people find that their resolutions don’t stick or that they’ve fallen behind.
If you are serious about succeeding with a health or fitness resolution – be it to lose weight, to eat healthier, to get into shape, or to simply feel healthier – you need to create new habits that will support you in meeting these goals.
To form a new habit you need to change your behaviour through repeating a process until it becomes nearly automatic: simply another daily function, like brushing your teeth or walking the dog. The conventional wisdom is that a habit is formed in two weeks, but recent research suggests that it takes longer than that: scientists at University College London claim that to establish a new habit, the new behaviour has been done consistently for anywhere from several weeks to a few months, depending on what it is.
We’re here to help you start off 2013 on a positive note and to carry all the way through to achieving your goals. Here’s some key factors to consider when creating and working towards your new health and fitness goals.
Set specific goals
Make your resolution as clear as possible. For example, instead of saying you want to lose weight, you need to define the goal by outlining the end goal in specific, non-ambiguous terms. How much weight do you intend to lose? For one woman that might mean 10 lbs., for another woman it might be losing baby weight, or for yet another, she want to lose 50 lbs.
When you get specific with your resolutions it also will help to identify quantifiable measures of success, or benchmarks. The nature of the measurement will depend entirely on what the goal is. To use the weight loss example again, being able to fit into a pair of skinny jeans (try our Skinny Jeans Challenge this month!) or a favourite dress might be good indicators of progress.
Setting unrealistic goals is an act of self-sabotage. It won’t come all at once, so start small and work up to establishing your full-blown, amazing new routine.
If you don’t exercise at all at the moment, and have now resolved to go to the gym every day of the week, but can’t seem to find time for other work, family, and social obligations you are probably setting yourself up for failure. Instead, resolving to work out 2-3 times a week is more realistic right now.
There is nothing wrong with slowly easing yourself into a new habit and adding to it as you go. Even if that’s not your end goal, it’s a step in the right direction.
Break it down: create a plan
Once your goal is defined, it needs to be conceptualized as a project with many tasks that will help you achieve the desired result. Take out a pen and paper and start to break your resolution down into its smaller components and related tasks.
The act of going to gym for your workout is only one part of the equation. It might mean changing your schedule to better accommodate your new routine, such as such as getting to bed earlier or waking up earlier. It might also mean delegating work or family responsibilities to someone else, packing your gym bag or making lunches the night before.
Ask yourself what you can do right now to take a step towards meeting your goals? What about later this week, month, or year?
Tell others about your goal
You don’t have to take out a full-page ad in the newspaper, but telling your peers and loved ones about your resolution may help motivate you to follow through on your plans.
Call up a supportive family member and tell her about your plan. Post your resolution on your Facebook page and Twitter account. If you like to write, start a blog to track about your progress.
Give your loves ones periodic updates on your progress – the people who care about you will act as cheerleaders, motivators, and can give subtle nudges if you’re faltering. Feeling supported in your goal will do wonders for your self-motivation.