Hopping on the New Year’s resolution fitness bandwagon may seem cliché — especially if you’ve done it before, only to find yourself on the couch every night come February. Don’t worry, though: you are not alone. Only eight percent of people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolutions by the end of the year, according to research from the University of Scranton.
Even if you’re not a competitive person by nature, competition can bring out the best in us. Adding a competitive element to your New Year’s fitness goal helps serve as motivation to follow a strategic, long-term training plan. Signing up for a competition, like a 5K run, reinforces our instinctive need to achieve, says Chelsi Day, PsyD, HSPP, a clinical and sport psychologist for Indiana University Athletics. Make sure to set a specific date and sign up for the event within the first week of the New Yea, so you’ll be less likely to back out if you start getting the jitters as the event nears.
Don’t use the scale to measure progress: take photos instead. That way, you’ll actually have visual evidence of your weight loss, rather than strictly sticking to numbers on a scale. If you’re feeling particularly brave, share your progress on social media: a 2013 weight loss study from Translational Behavioral Medicine found that participants who shared their progress on Twitter lost more weight than those who kept their results to themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with committing to big New Year fitness goals. But you should establish small and specific monthly benchmarks to maintain your motivation throughout the year. This will give you a reason to celebrate incremental progress or success as you move closer to the bigger goal you set for yourself. “If I ask you to eat a steak in one bite, you might be intimidated and pass on ordering the steak,” says Day. “But if you cut the steak into manageable bites, it helps us enjoy it.” For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, break that up into 3 to 5 pounds per month.
Whether it is a trainer or a buddy, a workout partner provides a powerful level of support to keep you motivated year-round. In fact, the American Society of Training and Development says that having a regular workout buddy will increase your likelihood of reaching your fitness goal by 95%. Make sure to choose someone who will not accept your excuses or give you a pass when you’re not in the mood to hit the gym.
After you’re settled in your regular routine, tackling the same workout week after week and month and after month may become boring and deplete your fitness mojo. To spice things up, ditch the traditional gym and challenge yourself to one extreme workout per month to keep things interesting. You can take your workout outside and venture into rock climbing or visit a local training facility to test your skills on a few obstacles.
Text by Cassie Lambert, image by Getty.