It's hard to believe that the first month of the year has already come and gone, and it seems like only yesterday you were making your resolutions to live healthier this year. The first week is always the easiest, because the momentum of newly-minted motivation on your side, but how have you fared since then? Has there been a decline in your motivation or activity?
More than likely, the answer is "yes"--in fact, according to research published by the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions stick with them throughout the year. So, it may be time to take a pit stop and assess your current status--or maybe just start all over again. Below are some tips to help you get back on track with your health and fitness goals, in order to continue making your New Year's resolutions a reality.
Remember That Failure is Not Final
Okay, so you messed up, got off course, blew it, derailed, etc.--whatever you want to call it, the point is that you fell short of your stated goals. Believe it or not, this is actually not a big deal. Yes, it hurts, and yes, you would rather have done it differently, but the truth is that the path to success is often littered with multiple failures along the way. Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player in the history of the NBA, once famously quipped "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
Keep in mind that failure is not final; in fact, failure can be your greatest instructor if you pay attention to how things went wrong, and adjust your actions so that you don't repeat those mistakes again. Just keep the words of Henry Ford in mind: "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."
Reexamine Your Goals
Before you beat yourself up about not sticking to your goals, take a moment to ask yourself if they were too lofty to begin with. Take an honest look at your New Year's resolutions and reevaluate whether they are truly realistic and achievable or not. It could be that you got a little too excited on New Year's Day, and set goals that were a little too ambitious. While there's nothing wrong with dreaming big and pushing yourself to new levels, setting unrealistic goals (or goals that are to be achieved in an unrealistic time frame) can produce frustration instead of inspiration.
If Your Goals Seem Overwhelming, Break Them Up Into Smaller Pieces
Your goals should definitely be a challenge, but they should not feel like an anchor around your neck. If you feel like you've hit a wall with pursuing your goals, try breaking them up into smaller milestones in order to take advantage of the momentum that can come from achieving several "micro-goals" along the way.
For example, if you've set a goal to lose 20 pounds by summer, that's an average of only 1.25 pounds lost per week (from February to June). If you can make a strong one-week effort to see that scale go down by at least 1.25 pounds, you've done your job for that week--now do it again next week. In this way, you build momentum along the way, and enjoy small but steady accomplishments while chipping away at the overall objective.
Recognize When Old Habits Are Trying to Resurface
If there's one saying that has proven to be true throughout the years, it's the fact that "old habits die hard." Old eating habits are particularly stubborn, and if you don't stay mentally alert, those old thought patterns that typically steer you into splurging on comfort foods and high-fat fare can easily rear their ugly head again.
One of the most subtle yet dangerous ways that these old thought patterns try to resurface is through small compromises--i.e., "Even though I've sworn off desserts for a month, I'll just have this one small sliver of chocolate pie, and that will be it." The next thing you know, you've devoured two or three "small slivers," and you're back at square one. Make it a point to recognize when those old habits are attempting to steer your decisions, and then resolve to interrupt their progress by choosing an alternative action.
Be Accountable to Someone
It's a lot harder to bail out on your goals when you've told someone that you're serious about achieving them. It can be a spouse, a good friend, a personal trainer, etc.; just choose someone to whom you can be accountable, and who will support you on your road to success. You might even want to enlist the help of a training partner who's working towards similar goals; both of you can keep each other motivated when you're "in the trenches" together.
If you fell off the New Year's resolution bandwagon, just remember that it's never too late to pick yourself up and go at it again. Keep the tips and suggestions above in mind to help you on your journey.