Turn your resolutions into a maintainable healthy lifestyle, which doesn’t end after the first few weeks of January.
When the champagne sparkles and the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, it’s easy to let a wave of optimism wash over you. This year will be different. This year you’ll lose that holiday weight. You’ll fit into your skinny jeans again. But then you return to the daily grind and anxiety about keeping your resolution plagues you. What if by the end of January your self-control sputters and you’re back to that daily venti caramel mocha with whip? What if your skinny jeans still don’t zip? Don’t worry. Success is attainable if you make small changes to incorporate healthier activities into your lifestyle, which feed into your resolutions.
Here’s how to strengthen your willpower and make your resolutions stick:
1. Commit to it
New Year’s resolutions can be tough to keep, especially when work, technology and social obligations compete for our diminishing supply of attention. The good news? The simple act of committing to a resolution means you are 10 times more likely to succeed, according to research conducted by University of Scranton psychology professor John Norcross, Ph.D. So right now, don’t worry about whether you’ll succeed. Make your resolution, write it down, tell your friends. You may surprise yourself. Check out Jim Kwik’s tips for success too.
2. Make a bullet journal
Key components of achieving your goals include planning ahead, preparing for setbacks and tracking your progress. An easy way to accomplish this is to start a bullet journal. Use your journal to break down your single goal into several small achievable tasks, like “elliptical for 30 minutes.” Include specific events, like “tennis with Miranda on Monday” and possible obstacles to overcome, such as “the gym is closed on Saturday.” Don’t forget to track your progress since this can help you stay motivated. Write down your daily food intake, pounds lost or steps taken. Then, when you need encouragement, look back at how far you’ve come.
3. Get a workout buddy
Dragging yourself to the gym and sweating it out in front of super-fit strangers is not always motivating. Instead, make your workout routine social. The right workout buddy can be a fun coach, teammate and cheerleader, not to mention an accountability partner. For married couples, a spouse can be a powerful partner in staying true to your workout goals. In fact, according to research conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University, married couples who go to the gym together only have a 6.3 percent dropout rate compared with the 43 percent dropout rate of those who went to the gym alone. So phone a friend and get going.
4. Reward yourself with self-care, not food
The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine states that one of the five basic rules of recovering from addiction is practicing physical and emotional self-care. Extend that rule to your fitness recovery. If you’ve faithfully attended your kickboxing class for a month, reward yourself with a day off from work. For each pound you lose, re-watch a favorite movie or get a massage. Indulging in an activity that makes you laugh or causes your shoulders to drop from around your ears will feed your energy and motivation to keep working toward your goals.
5. Make it a game
Playing video games like World of Warcraft is addictive for many because it involves interacting with others to achieve goals and compete for high scores in a fantasy world. You can use the same principles to achieve goals in real life. Use Stickk.com, a goal-setting platform developed by Yale University behavioral economists to create a commitment contract, set financial stakes, log your progress and get a referee to verify your reports. Invest in a fitness tracker and compete with your friends on the number of steps you walk every day. Or join an online fitness social website like Fitocracy.com to complete challenges and earn levels and badges for special achievements.
6. Procrastinate. No, really.
It may seem like a weird technique, but telling yourself that you can do something bad later may actually decrease the likelihood that you will do it at all. In an experiment conducted by Nicole Mead of Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, 105 high school students were given a bag of potato chips and the choice to postpone, restrain or eat the chips. After a week, those who chose to postpone consumption ended up eating the least amount of chips.
Apply this finding to your fitness routine by telling yourself that next week you can binge watch Netflix instead of working out. By procrastinating on your Netflix plans, you actually reduce your desire to slack off instead of depending on your willpower alone.
You’ve got the power to keep those resolutions, and this could be your best year yet.