Creating a New Year’s resolution can be a great idea, especially if you are resolving to become healthier (weight loss and exercise are the top resolutions made). But if you don’t have an action plan it may be doomed before it ever gets started. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals who make a New Year’s resolution end up breaking it. By February, nearly half have already failed. The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:
- Past the first week: 75%
- Past two weeks: 71%
- After one month: 64%
- After six months: 46%1
A Department of Labor survey of adults asked them to identify the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Year’s resolutions or goals. The top three reasons identified were as follows: procrastinating (33%), lack of discipline (24%), no game plan (19%).
Don’t let those stats convince you to plop down on your couch with a bag of chips. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. (1) So, if you want to lose weight or just get more fit this year, make sure you have an action plan that helps ensure your success.
Here is a specific action plan for diet and fitness related resolutions that will help eliminate these three top issues.
Find a positive support system
For some, family may be just what you need. But, if your family members are struggling with the same diet or weight loss issues as you and aren’t ready to commit themselves to change, then you might want to look elsewhere. Friends may also be an option, but again if they are struggling with their own issues then you might want to enlist other help. Try finding a local support group of like-minded people, go online for a virtual support group, or seek out the help of a professional personal trainer or dietician.
Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today
One of the biggest obstacles new dieters/exercisers face is just getting started. If you continue to say “I’ll start tomorrow,” then you may find that tomorrow never comes. You repeatedly push it off and before you know it, another year has passed by while you remain in the same place you were before. If you promise to start tomorrow, then do it! Don’t allow any other “priority” to get in the way. At the risk of sounding cliché, Just Do It!
Start a new exercise plan slowly
Remain consistent and build up on it. Follow this example:
- Week 1: Walk for 20- 30 minutes just two times per week.
- Week 2: Increase your walking frequency to three times per week. Add in one day of strength training. Try 5-10 exercises to target your entire body.
- Weeks 3-4: Maintain the three days of walking and increase the strength training to two times per week.
- Weeks 5-6: Increase the intensity of your walk sessions by increasing the speed and/or increasing the incline. If possible, walk four times per week and strength train three times per week.
- Weeks 7-8: Time to change things up to keep your body challenged and avoid plateaus and burnout. Try adding a different cardio option at least two times per week (swimming, jogging, playing a sport, etc). For the strength training, try new techniques like pyramids or supersets. You may need to enlist the help of a personal trainer for new ideas.
Start a new diet plan slowly but consistently
Avoid labeling any foods as “bad.” Eat a variety but in moderation and include more of the nutritionally dense foods.
- Week 1: Improve your hydration through your daily water intake. Try to consume approximately 64 ounces per day.
- Week 2: Add in one extra vegetable a day until you are eating five servings of vegetables every day.
- Week 3: Include one serving of lean protein at every meal.
- Week 4: Limit starches and sweets (simple carbohydrates).
Find more help with this weekly dietary guideline advice.
The above exercise and diet recommendations give you a substantial game plan for your first two months. All you have to do is implement it. Post this action plan on your refrigerator or somewhere else that will force you to look at it every day. And, mark every action on your daily calendar to ensure it doesn’t get bumped by some other priority.
Also, remember that setbacks are normal and should not spell disaster for your resolution. If you are following your game plan 90% of the time and only 10% of the time falling off the wagon, then pat yourself on the back and cut yourself a little slack! If you find yourself starting to really wane from the plan, then tap back into what helped you initially get motivated. Don’t give up. Just start where you can (even if that’s taking a few steps backward) and head toward your goal.
If you’d like a guide who can personally help you reach your goals this year, help is available, and free! Just fill out the form in the "Connect" tab below and a mentor will connect with you soon.
1. Source: Auld Lang Syne: “Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers”, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).
This article was written by: Lynn Bode (CFT)Photo Credit: Maria Fernanda Gonzalez