1. Write It and Measure It
Resolutions should be both specific and measurable. Try following the SMART model: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound.
"I want to lose weight" is a pretty common New Year’s resolution, but how exactly do you go from point A to point B? Instead, try setting a more specific goal. For instance: "I want to lose 10 pounds over the next six weeks by eliminating fast food meals and going to the gym three to four times per week. I'll then maintain my goal weight for six months before setting any other new goals."
2. Make Resolutions Manageable
The key to sustainable resolutions is to make small changes gradually. So if your goal is to go from never running to finishing a half-marathon, start training gradually. Begin by walking a few miles twice a week, and steadily increase the workload to jogging, and then running over several months.
3. Break Up the Goal
Resolving to do 10,000 push-ups in a year is pretty intimidating. But 192 push-ups every week… OK, that’s still pretty scary. But breaking it down to 28 per day looks a lot more manageable, right? A goal that’s either far in the future or far out of your comfort zone can be tough to start, so break the resolution down into achievable steps.
4. Treat Yourself!
When you hit those hard-earned benchmarks treat yourself! Choose a reward that won’t undo your hard work: a weekend getaway, a beach day, a mani-pedi, a massage, some new fitness swag, or a movie date.
5. Question Your Motives
Before hitting the gym, ask yourself some introspective questions: Why did you make this resolution? What do you want to achieve? Developing answers that elicit a powerful emotional response can help motivate your goals.
6. Ask for Help
If you’re curious about new techniques, or find some exercises that are too intimidating book a session with a personal trainer to clear up confusion, help prevent injury, and learn to love new moves. Trainers and instructors are there to help, so don’t be self-conscious about asking for advice.
7. Hold Yourself Accountable
Stay on track by putting your money where your mouth is: Pay in advance for an exercise program that demands attendance. If working out with a trainer or group class isn’t your style, pencil in regular gym dates with friends or your partner to stay accountable. Knowing that someone’s waiting for you at the gym can prevent skipping workouts (or sleeping through them), and it’s a lot more fun than going it alone. Plus, according to some studies, sweating with a buddy improves results—even if it’s a virtual friend on a video game.
8. Choose the Right Tech
There are scores of gadgets and apps that can help, the most useful might be those that connect the user with a community of health-oriented peers. After all, it’s easier to stay on the right path with a supportive community. MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and Noom are great places to start tracking progress and setting new goals. Or try Commit, a super simple app that asks the user, every day, if they’ve achieved a goal they've set.
9. Don't Be Afraid to Scale Back
You don’t need to be doubled over in pain, sweating out of your eyeballs, or dry heaving into the trash to have a "good" workout. Some people love intense workouts, but for others, ramping up the pain just means they’ll dread exercising—and nothing derails a fitness resolution like learning to hate exercise. A challenging workout should push you a bit outside your comfort zone, but there’s no need to catapult yourself a thousand miles from it.
10. Be Forgiving
Even the best-laid resolutions can lose steam by spring. It’s easy to justify taking a few days (or weeks) off. But slip-ups are completely fine (even expected), and there’s not a single person on Earth who hasn’t stumbled in their path to success. If taking time off means slightly tweaking your resolution, then so be it—but don’t give up.