Ditch your new year’s resolution

January at the gym sucks.  Every year around this time, the gym gets packed with newly-minted gymrats, each trying to fulfill their respective New Year’s resolutions to lighten up and get back in shape.  Suddenly, there’s a line to get on a treadmill…  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that more people are getting in shape and getting exercise, but in my experience, come February, the gym is back to its usual capacity.

As I see it, the problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that 9 times out of 10, they just don’t stick.  In fact, some researchers have found that 80% of New Years Resolutions fail.  And what’s worse, that sense of failure at achieving health goals may be more harmful than the initial resolution, causing people to slip back even further into behaviors that are damaging to your health.

So what’s a motivated gal to do this time of year?  I say don’t “resolve” to get healthy, as Nike famously put it…JUST DO IT!  Set reasonable, achievable goals for yourself with these simple pieces of advice:

  1. Get specific.  The perfect goal isn’t “I’m going to workout more” or “I’m going to stop eating chocolate cake”.  Those aren’t achievable or realistic (and a little chocolate cake every once in a while isn’t a bad thing!).  Instead, set a goal like ” I will workout for 30 minutes, 4 times a week” and schedule it in your planner like a date or a doctor’s appointment.  Instead of setting a negative resolution like not eating a fattening food, make a positive goal such as ” I will eat three servings of green or veggies a day”.
  2. Track your progress.  Whether your goal is weight loss or running a 5k, tracking your progress as you go along helps you keep your eye on the prize while celebrating how far you’ve come.  When I was training for the marathon, I kept track of the miles I ran each week – and can honestly say that it was an awesome feeling seeing those numbers go up every week!
  3. BUDDY UP.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – enlisting a likeminded healthy buddy is one of the best ways to get more accountable and get some much needed support.  Whether it’s someone to go to spinning class with instead of happy hour, or a bring-your-lunch to work date, enlisting a friend is a great way to stick to your goals and have a little fun while doing it!
  4. PREPARE TO FAIL (a little).  So this may seem a little counterintuitive – the whole point of having a goal is that you don’t want to fail at it!  But the truth is that we are all human, and we aren’t perfect.  The people who really stick to their goals aren’t the ones that have steely discipline, but are those that know how to dust themselves off and get back on the horse they’ve fallen off.  This may be as simple as having a plan if you go overboard in the pizza/beer department one night (drink plenty of water, workout an extra twenty minutes the next day, etc..) or just not letting it get to you and  jumping right back into the swing of being healthy!

So here’s to 2012 – may this be the year that you relish in your gorgeous, healthy, balanced, Gothamskinny selves!

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