For many gyms, January is one of the busiest months of the year as new members sign up. The influx of “resolutioners” often comes with fitness goals that are ambitious and challenging, but also realistic and attainable.
Fitness resolutions typically fall into one of three categories: outcome, performance and process. Outcome goals focus on a specific result, like losing weight or running your first 5K. Process goals entail improving your skills, such as lifting heavier weights or learning the proper form for an exercise.
1. Listen to Your Body
During the early stages of fitness endeavors, it is important to listen to your body. This ensures that you don’t push yourself too hard or overwork your muscles, which can lead to injury. If you feel that you aren’t able to complete a workout, stop and rest. You should also take the time to refuel your body with healthy, nutritious foods.
Creating a long-term plan to achieve your fitness goals is crucial to staying on track. This will help keep you motivated, especially when your initial enthusiasm begins to wane. Make sure that your plans are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
It’s important to find a way to stay accountable, which can be done by joining a group exercise class or finding a friend who will join you in your workouts. This will allow you to support each other and share your success (and failures).
Additionally, scheduling regular intervals of exercising in advance can help keep your motivation consistent. This strategy was among the top tactics for sustainably increasing exercise levels in a recent study.
Another way to remain on track is by rewarding yourself for your accomplishments. While it is important to avoid overindulging in foods that will negatively impact your health and fitness goals, a spa day, a new workout outfit or a weekend getaway can be beneficial. Additionally, focusing on balancing strength training and cardiovascular exercises can prevent monotony and aligns with fitness goals of holistic well-being.
If you aren’t familiar with certain exercises, seek the advice of a trainer to ensure that you are performing them correctly. Correct form can significantly improve your safety and efficiency in the gym or on the running track. Furthermore, a trainer can help you find workouts that suit your unique strengths and weaknesses. This can help you stay engaged and increase the likelihood of reaching your fitness goals in 2024.
2. Take a Break
Setting a New Year’s resolution to improve your fitness is an exciting way to get energized for the future. It can be even more challenging, however, to keep that resolution all year long. A recent Forbes Health article cites that the average shelf-life for most New Year’s resolutions is about 3.74 months.
It’s not so much that people lack the motivation to prioritize fitness, but it’s often that they’re not equipped with a strategy for achieving their goals or are overwhelmed by life circumstances. Whether all of your kids are sick (and at the same time), your mother-in-law needs help with her cancer treatment, or you have to meet a deadline at work, these unexpected events can derail your fitness plan before it even gets started.
When this happens, it’s important to pause and take a break. Not only does taking a breather allow you to step away from the situation, but it also gives your brain a chance to process what’s happening and provides an opportunity to regroup. This refocusing is vital to maintaining momentum and can help you avoid burnout or frustration that may lead to abandoning your resolution.
Taking a break from your regular exercise regimen may seem counterproductive to the goal of getting fit in the new year, but it’s actually very helpful. Many individuals who rush to their local gym in the new year after a season of excess are less likely to continue going to the gym compared to those who join a gym in spring or fall.
Instead of making a beeline for the auld lang syne sign-up sheet, take a week off to reset and recover. When you return to your workout routine, be patient with yourself – it’s normal to feel a little rusty and your muscles will thank you for the rest. Plus, working out with a buddy can provide added accountability and can motivate you to push harder when the going gets tough. You can also consider a personal trainer to provide you with the support and guidance that will enable you to reach your fitness goals this year.
3. Stay Hydrated
The human body is 60% water, so staying hydrated is an important step to maintaining good health. While eight glasses of water per day is a standard guideline, each person may need more or less depending on their diet and activity level. Keeping a water bottle handy, drinking a glass of water with every meal and replenishing fluids after workouts are some easy ways to stay hydrated.
Drinking water before and during exercise is essential for optimizing exercise performance, reducing muscle cramps and preventing dehydration. Additionally, consuming foods high in potassium (found in bananas and avocados) and sodium (found in tomatoes, leafy vegetables, nuts and fish) can help offset the loss of electrolytes during sweating.
Signing up for an event is another great way to motivate yourself to stick to a fitness routine. Whether it be a marathon, cycling ride or 10km run, having something to look forward to can make all the difference in your ability to keep up with your training.
Additionally, it can be helpful to find a buddy who has similar goals and is willing to keep you accountable. This can also be a great way to socialize and have fun with your training!
Taking the time to set realistic and attainable New Year fitness resolutions can lead to a more fulfilling and healthy lifestyle throughout 2024. It isn’t about putting a big push out there at the beginning of the year, but rather about being consistent and dedicated to your fitness journey all year long. Remember to listen to your body, take a break when necessary and stay hydrated to safeguard against injury. Best of luck on your fitness journey!
4. Stay Safe
Setting fitness goals for the new year is not a novel idea. However, this year, with gyms closed and social distancing in effect, a personal fitness program requires some extra consideration and preparation.
Begin by making a plan to stay on track with your workouts. For example, schedule regular training sessions with a fitness professional to hold you accountable, or download one of the many free fitness apps to help you train on your own. If you’re still a little nervous about working out, consider starting with some small steps, such as scheduling time to walk or run in the morning, or stashing hand weights at work for quick exercises during meetings.
Keep in mind, fitness is a journey and it may take some time to see noticeable changes. By staying safe while striving for fitness, you can be more likely to stick with your goals throughout the new year and beyond.