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Setting fitness resolutions that stick

Getting into better physical shape is one of the leading New Year’s resolutions for Canadians. However, many people give up and go back to their old habits by mid-January. A recent Ipsos study found three in 10 Canadians make New Year’s Resolutions but seven in 10 (73 per cent) fail to stick to them.

What are we doing wrong? The biggest mistake is that many people identify what they want to achieve but don't think about how they're going to do it. According to Kim Lavender, vice president of team training and specialty group training with GoodLife Fitness, many people set vague goals and don’t follow through to build a concrete plan to achieve them. As a result, they often go too hard at the beginning and then decide it’s not sustainable.

Lavender suggests these tips to set resolutions that stick:

  • Make your goals achievable. Define what you want to achieve and make sure it’s measurable. Start small and build up gradually.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Find a gym buddy, or hire a personal trainer, who will expect you to show up for your workouts and will challenge you to push yourself a bit harder.
  • Plan ahead. Book exercise into your calendar and schedule around it. Keep your workout gear in your car so you can fit in a workout on the go.
  • Track your progress. Keep track of your successes (how long did you go on the elliptical, how far did you run, how much extra did you lift? Tracking your progress helps you see how far you’ve come and is a daily ‘no excuses’ reminder of what you have and have not done.

Based on how many people give up on their resolutions, pushing past setbacks is essential to success.

  • Success is not immediate, and you will not be perfect every single day. If you have a day where you miss a gym session or eat a cheat meal, forgive yourself. Tomorrow is a new day.
  • Think smaller. Try scaling back the number of things you want to change. Consider your priorities and pick the most important ones.
  • Visualize yourself acting on your resolution. Picture yourself exercising and eating right and you’re more likely to succeed.
  • Leverage your support network. Ask people who have reached their fitness goals for help and advice.
  • Need some advice from the resolution trenches? These GoodLife Members have faced significant challenges and persevered with their fitness goals.

Instead of a “New Year’s resolution,” think of January 1 more as a starting point. There is too much pressure to succeed and change instantly with the beginning of this new year. Try to make your goals realistic and obtainable. Set monthly targets versus this gigantic new year change. As you succeed and see results, it motivates you to keep going. Long-term changes don’t happen overnight. Baby steps!

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