It’s the end of the year and you’re ready to make changes. But, it sometimes feels like the odds are stacked against you when you look at success rates for new years resolutions.
Research conducted by the app Strava looked at over 800 million user-logged activities in 2019 and based on this data, they predict the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s Resolution is January 19.
19 DAYS. For those who take the leap into starting to build healthy habits, that’s the average amount of time most people stick to it.
So, how do you make sure that you aren’t in that statistic? Let’s break it down:
Set SMART goals
SMART = specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based
Maybe you have a big lofty goal of losing 30 pounds. Maybe you’re big goal is adding 50 pounds to your powerlifting total. Perhaps you just want to “eat healthier.”
Let’s break these goals down in a way that makes sense and keeps you going.
Example: “Eat Healthier”
This goal breaks down into: eat more veggies, limit processed foods, get enough protein. Now – should you take it all on at once? We recommend doing one thing at a time so you feel successful with these goals and can hit mini goals throughout the months. So here is what “eat healthier” will look like:
Weeks 1 and 2: Eat 3 servings of green veggies per day
Weeks 3 and 4: Continue veggie goal, now get 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day
Weeks 5 and 6: Continue veggie goal, continue protein goal, now drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day.
Weeks 7 and 8: Continue veggie, protein, and water goal. Now limit processed foods – try avoiding packaged foods these weeks and see if you can stick to whole, single ingredient foods! Get creative with fresh veggies and produce!
Notice we ADDED goals (instead of limiting or eliminating foods or calories) the first 6 weeks so that we could feel accomplished and not limited in our nutrition choices! This is KEY to being successful long term!
Keep a food journal or track your food in an app (myfitnesspal or other app) to ensure you hit the goals each phase. Or, hire a coach to hold you accountable! We use an app to help our clients track their nutrition and lifestyle goals along with their workouts.
Are these goals attainable? We broke them into 2 weeks at a time so that success can be reached after only two weeks, pushing you to continue working toward the next step in success for your overall big goal.
Are these goals that will work for your situation? Do you have access to fresh veggies or the ability to get the unprocessed foods? Does the timeline work with your particular schedule or are you asking too much of yourself? Hopefully having a smaller goal like this to work toward daily then “upgrading a bit” every two weeks helps you to keep going. But, if you’d rather use one week or a month for each goal, that works too! Be sure that whatever timeline you choose for the small goals, they work with your individual situation.
When will you achieve your goal? Every two weeks you’ll hit a small goal. Congratulate yourself! Now use that momentum to continue! Aim for 3 months of solid nutrition and if you get there, stretch it to 6! At six months, you’re now passing from ACTION to MAINTENANCE (according to the Transtheoretical Model: stages of change) which means that you can now call what you’re doing a habit. This doesn’t mean you won’t regress, but you WILL be more likely to adopt these behaviors long term! Congrats!
As trainers who are also trained as health coaches, we help our clients navigate these stages of change and reach small goals to create long term success.
Why Many New Years Resolutions Fail
Millions of people lose weight every year. What people have is not a weight loss problem, but a weight maintenance problem.
If your only goal going into the new year is to lose weight, you are setting yourself up for failure.
You lose the initial weight because you’re so motivated the first month you start to workout, but the motivation fades and you will start to show up less and less, especially when stressful things in life start to pop up.
The goal is to get you on a training program where you will consistently show up no matter what and that comes down to connecting each workout to how it makes you feel mentally over how it makes you look.
You’re not going to see results every single workout when it comes to your aesthetic goals. That comes with a lot of time. Years of time.
So, how do you do this? You have to shift your focus to skills based training in the gym.
Strength Training: The Best New Years Resolution Goal
The cornerstone of your routine should be strength training over cardio.
Chronic cardio can do the opposite of what you want when it comes to body recomposition.
Doing light to moderate cardio while strength training two to three days a week (or more if you have time) mixed with a solid nutrition plan is the key to success. In our podcast, we talk more on this concept in Episode 11: Why Eating More Won’t Make You Fat. We discuss what happens with your metabolism when you create a deficit from cardio and don’t take time to build the muscle first by eating in a surplus and strength training.
Building muscle builds your metabolism. You burn more fat at rest when you have more muscle. You’re essentially turning your body into a machine when you resistance train progressively.
Starting a New Strength Training Routine this New Year
How can you make your strength training routine something that you will consistently show up to complete?
First and foremost, remember that less is more.
This is especially true if you have never strength trained before and this is a new stimulus for your body. Your brain is going to be making a lot of new neurological adaptations to this new stimulus you’re giving it. So, we recommend starting off with 1-2 full body days of strength training per week. That’s it. You will be blown away with your results if you follow this and you’re a newbie, I promise. Even if you have done some strength training in the past and have fallen off for a bit, this schedule will be more than enough for you as well.
In order to get the most out of your training, build a program that incorporates the eight foundational movement patterns. Make it your goal to practice and develop the skill of performing these movements over trying to do them to look a certain way.
This mindset shift from aesthetics to movement mastery is shifting your focus to more skills related fitness over aesthetics based goals. This is so important especially when you’re first starting out because you have an objective goal every single workout session versus a subjective way you want your body to look; which is not going to happen from workout to workout but will happen over time. We all want to look good and there is nothing wrong with that, but what do you think is going to get you there? Six weeks of hammering your body with occasional weights and a lot of cardio or years of strength training and building muscle – You have to find a sustainable way of working out that keeps you showing up consistently.
Make Your New Years Resolutions in 2023 Simple
It’s important to not try to do everything at once.
In the new year, we see people try to go from not doing anything to trying to change literally everything when it comes to their health. Cutting calories and eating like a bird, 6 days per week workouts, trying to sweat the fat out, or toning the muscle until you can’t feel it anymore are not good practices. This is a sure fire way to fail.
You have to start slow or this will be an ever ending cycle of 4 weeks of motivation and 3 months of falling off, repeat.
So, the approach we like to take is to have people start adding things in versus taking away.
This is so important for your mindset because generally people start with a restrictive mindset. You’re telling yourself you can’t have these things versus telling yourself you don’t want these things. We want to get you to the point where you really don’t want unhealthy foods most of the time. We want to get you to the point where you want to train most days versus saying you have to.
In 2012 there was a study called the “I don’t vs I cant study” and this study found that people who said “I dont” only did their negative habit 36% of the time versus the “I cant” group who did their negative habit 67% of the time.
So, saying “I don’t want that thing right now because it doesn’t align with my goals” versus saying “I can’t have that” (restriction mindset) can be much more effective.
What a Solid New Years Resolution Plan Looks Like
We do a 21 day challenge in our Facebook Group.
No, it’s not a weight loss challenge. It’s a behavior change and healthy habit challenge.
We focus on adding healthy behaviors every day until they become habits for people.
After the challenge, many people continue to implement these healthy habits until they are consistent parts of their routine.
Humans are routine beings – and yes, it’s fun to break it once in a while – but you have to have an actual routine to break.
Here are some things you can focus on adding into your routine:
Add in 1-2 strength training workouts per week.
Add in 10-20g of protein to each meal or snack.
Add in 2-3 cups of vegetables per day.
Add in an extra 2-3 cups of water per day.
Add in 1-2 thousand steps per day.
We would also recommend starting adding these behaviors one at a time. So for the next two weeks your main goal is to focus on protein. After that feels pretty doable daily, focus on the strength training workouts. After that feels doable, focus on the vegetables. Continue adding every few weeks versus changing everything at once.
Other methods for success and adherence:
Workout on YOUR schedule – be sure to be realistic and do what you can without trying to schedule too much too soon!
Practice gratitude daily to ensure you are remaining in a positive and grateful headspace for what your body CAN do rather than what it CAN’T (yet).
Join a group like our Stronger Than Your Facebook group to have community and discuss progress.
Gamify your fitness with a workout app like we use in our online personal training.
Work toward developing a new skill so you’re not just “working out” but you’re training FOR something – even if it’s your first pushup!
Hire a coach for accountability.
If you’re ready to get started on your New Years Resolutions and want to stay with it this year, book a free consultation to learn more about our fitness and nutrition coaching options.
And if you’d like to listen to our podcast on this topic, check out the Stronger Than Your Boyfriend podcast, Episode 45: Why New Year’s Resolutions Suck: How to Set Goals the Right Way