Keeping the New Year's Resolution Going

Fitness Resolutions Part II: Keeping it going

In part one of this article, we talked about the most common New Year's fitness resolutions and the hangups that shut most of us down before reaching our best. Before we go on to discuss a few best practices for success, let's mention another reason fitness resolutions fail...

Many fitness resolutions fail because of the fitness industry itself. The holidays and Spring time are the times of year when, like clockwork, the fitness industry preys on well-intentioned enthusiast. During these seasonal periods the clubs, gyms, spas, and trainers will make an all out push for your business. All too often the fitness industry will take advantage of your desire to change and offer a variety of membership packages with long term commitments and prices. The general ploy is to reassure you that by signing a contract and committing financially, you will be motivated to keep the resolution going. Hiring a personal trainer or joining a fitness facility will not improve your chances of making your fitness goals in the new year. (555)

Predatory fitness is not isolated to gyms and health clubs. A variety of retailers take part in the seasonal assault on your fitness goals. Online sales of mobile device apps (think couch to 5K apps) surge during the holiday resolution period as do retail sales of athletic apparel, running shoes, and training gear. I am not proposing that any fitness related app or retail purchase is unwarranted.

However, spending excessive amounts of money on long term training contracts, nutritional supplements, and gear can add to the stress of sticking  to your fitness resolution. By adding the financial burden on top of the “stress for success” you may increase the likelihood of failure and end up with significant buyers remorse.

Suggestions for Successful Fitness Resolutions

Start planning your new fitness habit now. The typical resolutioner believes they can wake up on January first and launch into this new fitness endeavor. Even if you have an exercise history or previous base of fitness (and been away from exercise for a while) this idea of leaping out of bed bright and early on day one of the new year will put you on a collision course with failure...or worse, injury.

It is irresponsible as it is unrealistic to think that, after staying up (way) past midnight, eating the typical party fare, and perhaps taking in some alcohol, that you would be able to leap out bed and start your new fitness program. Chances are you’ll be hitting the snooze alarm or throwing up within your first mile or during the first set on the weights. Inevitably, the start date to your new year’s fitness resolution will be pushed back.

Rather than this haphazard approach, consider taking the plunge on paper a few days before you plan to start. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Consider your start date. Is January first the best day to start? You may be better off planning your fitness resolution to start a few days later, after the New Year’s celebration has worn off.

  • Assess yourself. This is a tough one. How long has it been since you have truly engaged in a fitness or exercise program? If the last time you ran or lifted weights was in high school (and you graduated more than six months ago) trying to hit your stride running or lifting is going to be difficult if not a direct route to injury. Anyone who has been away from structured fitness activity must carefully plan a return. Even if you have had a base of fitness in the past, returning to exercise with too much volume or intensity without proper planning and guidance, will risk injury and further setback.

  • Assess your time and financial resources.How much time can you afford in your day to exercise? The fitness industry loves to toss around phrases like “make time” and “if you want it bad enough, you’ll find time”. Those throwaway one-liners never last in a sustainable fitness plan and ultimately fuel the stress and self loathing that comes with the reality of life. There are circumstances and situations with will prevent you from completing even the most carefully planned exercise regime; this is real life unless you are a sponsored professional athlete.  To maximize your chances of success, you must find a way to fit your exercise program in around other important priorities in your life. One way around the “make time" problem is to do a few dress rehearsals. Conducting a dress rehearsal before you actually start training will help you get needed gear together and organized, understand how long it takes to travel to and from the gym or training site, and will start to build a routine. You will find that routine building is a key factor in maintaining your fitness resolution.  Training early in the morning is a great way to get this done if you practice getting up early. Getting a workout tucked into your lunch period is equally effective if you practice getting your gear together and toted into work each day.

A few final points

  • Plan your fitness resolution well
  • Don’t wait for January 1 to start a dress rehearsal
  • Start making little habit changes before your jump into your plan
  • Consider waiting a day or two after the New Year to get started
  • Do your homework on essential gear
  • Hire a personal trainer who will teach as well as coach

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