#1 New Year’s Resolution and Why People Fail to Achieve It

Time and time again, we see that “getting fit” or “losing weight” makes it to the top of New Year’s resolution lists. Sure, getting out of debt, spending more time with family and staying more organized also make the list, but exercise seems to appear and reappear as a resolution. This redundant theme suggests that we’re not on the mark. We’re not successfully integrating exercise into our lives. Why?

resolutions

Fitness industry attrition rates are pretty darn stinkin’ high. As many as 30-40% of gym-goers cancel their memberships every year. As a fitness professional, I can testify that a lot of these cancellations are because of inappropriate goal setting and expectations.

To kick-start 2016, let’s jump over the hurdles that cause us to fail. Let’s learn some lessons, once and for all, so that maybe…just maybe…next year all you have to be concerned about is organizing your closet and squeezing in an extra weekend visit with your favorite aunt. Maybe she will help you monogram that tote bag you found stuffed behind a pile of old boots?


EXERCISE GOAL SETTING MISTAKES

Mistake #1: Too High in the Sky

You’ve been a self-proclaimed couch potato for the majority of your life. You like to rotate between work, happy hour and your comfy sofa, in that order, most days of the week. After noticing that your tummy has recently begun to spill out and over the waist of your jeans, you’ve decided that a new gym routine is a must. You resolve to workout a solid 5x/week and envision that by early spring you will be sitting on a beach somewhere south of the equator, donning a string bikini to show off your taut stomach. Of course, you will also be sipping a well-deserved margarita by then too.

You’ve seen clips from workout videos and gym advertisements. The people in them look sweaty but they’re also smiling and kicking butt! How hard can it be, right? You just know that you will be one of them in a matter of weeks.

And then…oh dear, then you face the music. After kicking off your new routine with boot camp on Monday morning, Pilates on Tuesday evening, and an early and exhausting cycle class on Wednesday, you can hardly believe you still have two workouts to go (and you’d prefer to fit them in before the weekend). Your legs are so tired that you’re breathless walking up the stairs when you get home. In short, this bites. Why did you ever venture away from your satisfying remote control, TV and iPad combination?

This is the old, “overcommit then quit” scenario. Your ideals were just a tad too high in the sky from the start. When you begin a new routine, it has to be manageable for what your body and lifestyle can handle. Most people can’t go from zero to 100 on week one. Even if you can manage to find the time and motivation to workout 5x/week at the outset, the workouts will need to be gentle or involve recovery days in order to build up your stamina and tolerance. Sadly, even though a lot of clever advertisers would like you to think differently, you can’t hit the ground running with a boot camp style workout every day. Anyone who says that you can have the body of your dreams in 21 days is just trying to get you to open your wallet. No joke. 

high in the sky

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Envision your ultimate goal. For example, working out 5x/week to help with weight loss and toning. Now, think about what a realistic starting point is.
  • Don’t assume you will start at your end game. In other words, set the bar low in the beginning so that you can achieve success early on. For example, aim to get into the gym 2x/week for two weeks. On week three, bump it up to 3x/week for three weeks. Keep progressing until you’re in a full routine and are feeling physically capable of handling it all.
  • If you can’t always hit your goal week after week, don’t give up or consider yourself a failure. If springtime rolls around and you aren’t where you’d like to be, think critically about how you can motivate to get started on your goals or can modify them to be more realistic. It’s better than waiting until next January, that’s for sure! And it’s WAY better than quitting altogether. Do you really want to feel the guilt of discarding your goals and progress, only to pick up the same mind-numbing and frustrating cycle down the line? Didn’t think so…

 

Mistake #2: Vague Goals Yield Uncertain Results

“I want to lose weight in 2016.”

Oh, you do?! Welcome to club. So does everyone. Sadly, proclaiming this doesn’t mean peanuts.

The problem with vague goals is that they don’t have any oomph or substance to back them up. It’s like a high school senior saying “I want to go to college.” Great! Now what?! Has she taken the SATs? Has she looked at school options? Does she know whether or not her parents are prepared to help her financially or if she will have to take out loans? Saying she wants to go is only a very small part of the process.

Of course, there is power in knowing what you want. Vocalizing your intentions to supportive friends and family can even help put you on the path towards success; however, you have to have skin in the game. You need some kind of tangible details and actions to accompany your grand plan or else you’re just saying that for the umpteenth time, you will lose weight…and then, you don’t. Bah, that’s the worst feeling. 

goal setting

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Put tangible figures and timeframes to your goal. How much weight do you want to lose? When will you lose weight it by? Write these details down.
  • Next, write down how you plan to manage nutrition, your workout schedule, stress, social events and more. This will help you guarantee specific, measurable progress.
  • Consider how much you are willing to pay to achieve these results. Should you sign-up for a 24-hour access, low-cost convenience gym that will fit well within your budget or should you stretch yourself to pay for a few boutique workouts at a studio every week? Which environment will be the most motivating and the least stressful? If you commit to something that adds stress, chances are that it will become more of a negative versus positive addition to your life…increasing the chances that you’ll quit.
  • Ask yourself the toughest question before you begin: “Am I being realistic?” Are you really willing to pay top dollar for an amazing personal trainer? What if it takes twice as long to achieve your results? How will you handle it or, better yet, pay for it? Also, do you have enough time for the workout program you planned? Do you need to reduce some days to 30 minute workouts instead of 60 minute ones, in order to fit them in? Can you expect to see results without changing your diet or do you need to more carefully consider cutting back in a few areas?

 

Mistake #3: No Back-up Plan

So you’ve hit your stride and then suddenly you come down with the flu or another illness. Your workout regimen is derailed right when you were feeling at your best and in a rhythm. This happens to people more often than I can count. You’re not alone. Right when you’re feeling better and plan to hop back into Barre or Zumba class, you’re given the mega-deadline of all deadlines at work. It’s nose to the grindstone for about two weeks. You’re exhausted and spent when you finally come up for air. Things are slowing down and you even have a personal day built in for some recovery (mostly because you need to catch up on errands). You’re packing your tennis shoes into your gym bag for your first workout and realize with a gasp; it’s been almost a full month since your last workout! What do you do?

It’s always important to have a back-up plan for exercise. We all get sick, busy or distracted at some point. Generally speaking, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t exercise for a few weeks, but, more often than not, this kind of inconsistency really throws people. They either can’t seem to get back on track once their schedules and health allow them to or they try to jump back too quickly and suffer negative consequences.

travel back-up plan

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Write down “contingency plans” for the following scenarios: 1) You get sick, 2) Your work or life gets overly busy, 3) You go on vacation, 4) You have a series of special events that threaten to derail you (think open bar, delicious multi-course meals, a birthday bash, etc.), and 5) You just plain lose motivation.
  • Acknowledge that having a “Plan B” is better than giving up or trying to figure out how to reach towards your goals in the wake of such stress. If you have a plan in place ahead of time, you can take a deep breath and rely on it.
  • Keep in mind that if you’re injured, low on sleep or sick, it’s an excellent time to focus on healthy eating. You may even find that you become better about your food choices in the short term and that this accelerates your results once you’re back lifting weights too.

 

Mistake #4: Do you know why you’re REALLY doing this?

I hear all the time that people want to get into a regular exercise routine. Fabulous!! But now, I must ask, “Why?” Why does it matter to you?

It may sound trite, but it’s important to dig deep into the real reason that weight loss, getting fit or running your first road race matters. Is it because you need something to focus on and control while the rest of your life feels chaotic and messy? Are you trying to funnel negative stress into a positive outlet instead of an unhealthy one? Perhaps you know that if you can get over the intimidation of the gym, that you will exude confidence in other areas of your life?

Whatever the case, working out is rarely just about the calories we expend. There is an emotional reason behind it. If you can hone in on what that reason is for you, there’s a greater chance you will commit and recommit to movement. Whether it’s for your confidence, to grow old and play with grandkids, to prevent disease or to fit into better jeans, there’s a deeper layer under every spandex-clad, gym-goers’ facade. Find yours. 

motivation for goals


 

My 2015 Goal & How I Succeeded All Year

In 2015, my goal was to keep up with this blog every week. By no means has it been easy to fit blog writing in with completing my Master’s degree (and oh man…allllll the writing that came with my thesis), work and being pregnant for the first time, but I planned carefully for how to succeed at it. Here is how I avoided the aforementioned mistakes:

Mistake #1: Too High in the Sky

I knew that if I expected to write more than one blog post every week that the task of maintaining WellnessWinz would be overwhelming. I decided to keep my goal realistic by proclaiming in my post “A Message from Paris” that I would publish at least one article a week. It was rare that I got to two, but I’m proud that I didn’t miss a single week. In 2015, WellnessWinz went from reaching women in 36 countries to 117, all from just one post a week! Even I’m blown away by that.

Mistake #2: Vague Goals Yield Uncertain Results

I tried to be specific about my goal: Write one post a week for a full year. I had timelines and specific, measurable values for what I needed and wanted to accomplish.

Mistake #3: No Back-up Plan

Of course, there were weeks when I was too busy to write. How did I deal with them? Sometimes it would work out that a guest blogger or fitness professional was interested and willing to write a post for the week. Bless you all! I would still help them edit and prep the article but their contributions significantly cut down on the amount of effort on my end.

Other times, I would plan in advance to frontload my writing, tackling a few articles in a single week before my schedule got busy or I left town. I would set them up for publication and voila! A few weeks “off” from writing and time to focus on other important things (like making sure my investment in grad school wasn’t in vein, haha).

Mistake #4: Do you know why you’re REALLY doing this?

If I ever felt a total lack of motivation, I would remind myself that my weekly post only needed to positively impact ONE person for me to feel like it had been worthwhile. I found that posts written on those weeks when I had to dig deep for inspiration were perhaps a little more heartfelt. Ironically, it was usually following these posts that a reader would reach out to me directly and thank me for some aspect of what she had read. Those reassurances made the process well worth it! Talk about karma!


I challenge you to commit or recommit to your goals this season. But don’t just write them down or fantasize about achieving them…plan for them. Avoid failure by being prepared and determined.

I know you can do it and so do you. 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

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