Every time the calendar turns to a new year, countless Americans make a resolution, get up from their couches and purchase a membership at a local gym.
That commitment to get in shape might last … for a month or two. Alas, 73 percent of people who make fitness-related New Year’s resolutions end up giving up before reaching their goals, according to a study by Harris Interactive.
Don’t let this be your fate. Following are six tricks for keeping your New Year’s resolution to get fit.
1. Keep your goals small and specific
Getting in shape can be a daunting task, which is why it’s often best to set small, specific and — above all else — realistic goals at the beginning of your journey.
Too many people set overly ambitious goals that do not allow for the occasional misstep, according to Organic Authority:
“Instead of creating a goal to exercise seven days a week, try starting with 4-5 days. Instead of looking at the big picture of wanting to lose 30 pounds, start with a goal of 5 pounds. Or even just 1.”
Think of your resolution to get fit as a marathon, not a sprint. With a little time, effort and patience, you’re bound to cross the finish line.
2. Put money on it
Apps like HealthyWage enable you to set a weight-loss goal and then bet on it. In short, if you reach your goal, you win money. However, if you miss the mark, you lose money.
There is science behind wagering on your own weight loss, as we detail in “Don’t Pay to Lose Weight — Get Paid Instead“:
“Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, found that financial incentives prompted 62 percent of dieters to lose weight. In contrast, only 26 percent of those without cash on the line lost weight. And a study published in the medical journal JAMA tied financial incentives to ‘significant weight loss.'”
3. Make fitness a priority
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity can help to control your weight, strengthen bones and muscles, improve mental health and mood, and reduce the risk of certain diseases. It can even help increase your lifespan.
So, why shove exercise aside for less important activities?
Instead of putting your physical and mental well-being on the back burner, make fitness a priority. Schedule it into your day as you would a doctor’s appointment, lunch date or important business meeting.
4. Don’t go it alone
You’ve probably heard the old adage “strength in numbers.” Well, working out with one or more pals can help strengthen your body and your relationships.
It also can boost your resolve to stick with a fitness plan. According to the magazine Experience Life:
“Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation and, in some cases, healthy competition.”
5. Mix it up
Variety is the spice of life, and it also adds zest to any exercise program. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), research shows that varying your workout routine can improve your odds of sticking with it:
“Exercise scientists at the University of Florida observed that individuals who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period appeared to enjoy their workouts more and were more inclined to stick with their exercise programs when compared to individuals who followed the same workout regimens week after week.”
Shaking things up can also help prevent those dreaded weight-loss plateaus. ACE says that varying your routine keeps you physically challenged, which prevents your body from adapting to your exercise routine.
6. Track your progress
Keeping track of your progress can be instrumental in helping you adhere to your fitness resolution. Research shows that charting or recording your progress boosts the likelihood that you will stick with your pledge to get fit, according to Oprah.com:
“This is due to the Hawthorne effect, which causes us to try harder when we think someone is keeping an eye on us.”
Jot down improvements in a fitness diary or use one of the many fitness apps now available, such as MyFitnessPal.
Tracking your weight can also help you reach weight-related goals. We explain why this works in “A Simple — Yet Effective — Path to Weight Loss.”
Do you have any tips for sticking with a fitness routine? Share your tips by commenting below or on our Facebook page.