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5 Reasons Your New Year’s Resolutions Fail – and How to Fix It

By Michelle Rogers, CPT | December 28, 2018 | Health Conditions

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Every year, losing weight and getting in shape top the lists of most Americans’ New Year’s resolutions. Walk into any gym across the country during the first week in January, and you’ll find it full of newcomers.

By the end of the month, the crowd numbers have thinned. The same can’t be said for the waistlines of the dropouts.

Do New Year’s resolutions actually work? Certainly not in the way that most of us are accustomed to making them. According to reports, 80% of people who make resolutions will have given up on those goals by Groundhog Day.

If you’re struggling, you are not alone. Most of us make resolutions with the best of intentions. Infomercials and women’s magazines make getting in shape look so easy! And at first we sincerely hope and try to succeed, but then it proves too hard. Life gets in the way, or we realize that bad habit we want to kick is more difficult to change than we’d hoped. So we give up…and feel like a failure.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five reasons you might be struggling with your resolutions, and simple fixes to help you crush your goals this time.

 Your list was too long.

Your list of New Year’s resolutions was more like a wish list…and a rather extensive one at that. On it you put the many things you’d like to change about yourself and your life.

But most of all, you want to lose weight. So your vow was that on New Year’s Day you’d turn over a new leaf. No more cookies! No more fast food! You were going to start that low-calorie diet and stay on it for good this time. Plus, you’ll work out for an hour every day. And rounding out your list, you’re also going to get out of debt, go back to school, get a new job, and organize all your closets, too. 

Three days later, you’re starving on the diet and miserable, which led to a binge. And you’re still sore from the first day of working out for an hour, so you haven’t gone back to it.

How to fix: To succeed big, go small. Set yourself up for success by making just one or two resolutions at most, rather than a long list, so that you can give it the attention needed to accomplish.

Start small with the changes you’d like to make. Be realistic on what you are actually able — and willing — to do, and the time it will take.

Break your goal down into small, doable steps, and keep it simple.


Your resolution was too vague

Your resolution sounded something like: “This year, I’m going to lose weight and get in shape.”

Okay. My question for you then, is: How are you going to lose weight and get in shape? What exercise will you do, and how much, and when? What dietary changes will you make? And when exactly is “this year”…when will you start?

How to fix: Be specific, not vague. Avoid making very broad resolutions.

If your goal is to get fit and start eating better, a clear-cut, actionable statement would be, “I’m going to go for a power walk for at least 20 minutes Monday through Friday, and I’m going to make ahead a healthy dinner in the crock pot twice a week, instead of stopping for fast food.”

It’s crucial that you have a solid plan of action. A resolution without a plan is nothing more than a wish.

What specific action will you take right now toward your goal? Write it down and post it where you can see it regularly. Make sure it is something that you’ll actually do and can keep up with.

You thought the change would be easier 

A few weeks into your resolutions, and it seems so much harder than you thought it would be. You’re trying to stay on track. But then it was your friend’s birthday and there was cake and drinks and a restaurant buffet…and you overdid it, big time.

How to fix: Remember that change takes time. It just doesn’t happen overnight.

Many people give up on resolutions because of one slip up. But when you’re working on a big goal, such as losing weight, it’s normal to sometimes take two steps forward and one step back.

Too often, we use small mistakes as an excuse to give up on big goals. Forgive yourself, move on and keep going.

You figured you could go it alone

You thought you had come up with a good plan, but that trendy diet that your friend swears by just isn’t doing it for you. And the boot camp class your Facebook friend loves left you literally limping. 

How to fix: Rather than winging it or relying on what works for someone else, get help from a qualified professional to create a plan that is personalized especially for you. There is help out there, so seek it out.

A certified personal trainer can create the right plan for you and work with you one-on-one to help you reach your fitness goals and avoid injury. A registered dietitian can develop a nutrition program that addresses your needs. Working with a professional is one of the best investments you can make in your overall health and wellbeing. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina offers health coaching with certain plans. Log on to Blue Connect to find out if your plan offers health coaching. Access nutrition counseling services by calling the number on the back of your member ID card or use Find A Doctor to locate a provider.

Why struggle on your own, when you don’t have to?

You gave up too easily

Your best intentions were to go to the gym every day after work, but something always seems to come up. Maybe this isn’t for me, you think. You’re ready to throw in the towel.

How to fix: Be persistent. Don’t give up so easily. Be patient with yourself and the process, but be intent on your goals. Perfection isn’t required to achieve success, but persistence is.

If exercising after work isn’t doable for you, then get up early and do it before work, or find another time that works for you. But don’t make excuses. Do what it takes to get it done.

When it comes right down to it, commitment is the most important key to making your resolution succeed.

For more on this topic, grab a copy of my free eBook, “6 Secrets to Winning at Exercise (Even if You’ve Always Failed!).