New year, new you: 12 ways to set yourself up for success
It’s always among the top resolutions: Lose weight. Eat healthy. Exercise more. Practice better self-care. As a weight loss success story turned fitness professional, I’ve been there. And I’ve assisted many others on their journeys to better health and fitness.
If you’re looking to make this the year you accomplish your fitness and weight loss goals, I’m here to help you succeed with the following simple strategies.
Pare down your list
This year, consider making no more than one or two resolutions or goals. This way, you can give it the attention needed to accomplish.
Find your true motivation
Take an honest look within. What is your “why”? You may want to lose weight and get more fit, but why? Your why will help you keep going. Write it down and post it where you can see it.
Instead of saying something vague such as, “This year I’m going to get fit,” say “I will go to the gym after work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 5:30-6:00 p.m.”
Be realistic about what you are actually willing to do, and the time it will take. Focus on one small change at a time. Behavior change is challenging. It’s a lot easier to do when you only have to focus on one thing at a time.
Make a realistic game plan and work it
Keep it doable — this is where many of us mess up when making a plan to get fit or lose weight. You can revise it as you go if something is not working out for you. There are countless ways to exercise. Find something that you like to do, and do it. You’re more likely to stick with something you enjoy. Regarding your diet, rethink having a strict plan if you have struggled with that in the past. For example, perhaps an 80-20 strategy might work better for you in the beginning, in which you eat healthfully 80% of the time.
Don’t rely on willpower
You may have a strong resolve at first, but then the realities of daily life set in and soon you begin to slide back into old habits. To prevent this, base your plan on a schedule. Schedule your exercise and make a specific time to work out — and stick to it. Put it in your calendar and treat it as an important appointment. If instead, you wing it day to day and just do something when you feel like it, your workouts most likely won’t happen.
The same idea applies to healthy eating. The more you plan ahead nutritious meals and snacks and ensure that you have them on hand, the less likely you will be to grab fast food or other unhealthy options when you’re hungry, tired and busy.
Prep your environment
Get rid of the junk food in the house if you are trying to eat a healthier diet. Stock your fridge and pantry with alternatives, such as fruit instead of candy and popcorn instead of chips. If exercising at home is your plan, create a space to work out and a place for your supplies. If going for an early morning run or class at the gym, gather your workout clothes, shoes and water bottle the night before.
Use what you have
Get that new gear that inspires you, or sign up for a gym membership — and use it. But even if you’re on a tight budget or can’t get to a gym, you can still get fit. If you’re like many people, chances are you have some dumbbells in the closet, workout videos on the shelf or bookmarked online, or an exercise machine collecting dust. Now is the time to recommit. And of course, it costs nothing to go outdoors and walk or run.
Track your activity, food, and progress
Track calories and meals in an app, or write in a journal. Keep a workout log and calendar, and put reminders to yourself in a visible place or an alert on your phone to help you remember. Also keep a record of your progress in terms of your body measurements, weight and exercise progression.
Let go of slip-ups
Don’t dwell on mistakes or use them as a reason to stop going. Simply get back on track right away, rather than quitting. I can’t emphasize enough how critical this is to success.
Get a support system
A certified personal trainer, certified health coach, and a registered dietitian can help you reach your goals with a personalized plan. Joining a weight loss group, an exercise class or a network of like-minded friends online can also be a source of encouragement.
Be patient and persevere
Be in it for the long haul, no matter what. Sure, we all want to accomplish our goals yesterday and not have to wait. But when it comes to fitness and weight loss, slow and steady wins this race. What good is losing weight quickly, only to gain it all back and then some? No, it’s far better to lose it for good by permanently transforming your lifestyle over time in a way that’s sustainable. Then you’ll never have to deal with this burden again.