Making Fitness Resolutions and Keeping Them

A quick start guide to understanding and keeping fitness resolutions 

Why do we make a fitness resolution?

The answer to this question is as varied as those who ask it. In short, we resolve to do something simply because we want change some aspect of our life. That change may come in the form of weight loss, quitting a bad habit, or getting ourselves back to a certain level of fitness. Whatever the reason, we dedicate ourselves to a resolution with the expectation of good things happening. We expect, perhaps subconsciously, to exert a certain amount of control over our current situation with additional benefit of improving areas of life indirectly from the resolution effort.

Is there a typical "New Years" resolution?

Yes there is. Resolutions that include changes in diet and exercise consistently earn high marks on top-ten resolution lists year after year. A quick Google search indicated that "fitness" and "diet" were consistently in the top five resolution goals going back to 2010. Indeed, of the top 10 resolutions for 2017, getting fit, starting a fitness program, and loosing weight swept one-two-three.

While nobody questions the reasons why we make resolutions this time of year, we should question how long these well-intentioned devotions to self-improvement will last.

Are New Years resolutions successful? 

That depends on how you measure success. Again, a quick turn to Google indicates that of all the people who will make a resolution for 2017, about 66% of them will have a fitness related theme. 73% of those aiming for fitness in the new year will dropout in six weeks or less. After three months that resolution dropout rate climbs to near 80%.

Despite the statistics, there you can be a resolution success story if you understand why resolutions fall apart and how you can avoid the traps.

Why is it so difficult to keep a fitness resolution?

There are as many answers to this question as there are people who are making the resolutions. Despite the varied circumstances surrounding the failure of a fitness resolution, there are a few common issues.

  • Over optimism: thinking you can accomplish more then you can in a short period of time; "go big or go home" mentality where desired (unrealistic) outcomes are linked to self change
  • Lack of experience: lacking the practical and experiential tools for success 
  • Self-handicapping: leaving yourself a way out of the resolution - giving yourself permission to fail because "resolutions never work anyway" and failure is inevitable
  • "Cold-Turkey" thinking: starting off without any meaningful planning or preparation

Coming up next...

In our next installment, we will discuss another reason fitness resolutions fail and provide a few best practices to help you succeed. 

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