One of the biggest reasons resolutions fail is that people set unrealistic goals. Then when we can’t meet them, we feel like a failure. Sure, you’d love to have those 25 extra pounds gone the moment you decide to start, or at least by next month. But it’s not realistic, or even healthy, to lose a large amount of weight that quickly.
Often we also compare ourselves to our younger self. When I was young, I could lose weight or get in shape fairly quickly, and you probably could, too. Yeah, well…that was then, and this is now. Our bodies and our metabolism change through the years.
Ignore the magazine covers and TV commercials that promise quick fixes in record time with little effort. There are no quick fixes that last.
Take small steps for big changes
Another reason resolutions fail is because of trying to tackle too much change at once.
You have a long wish list of how you’d like to be and what you’ll do. Starting Monday, you’re going to exercise an hour a day, go on the diet you saw in the magazine, and give up sodas and sweets. But by Wednesday you’re sore and starving, and you realize you can’t keep going with all of that. And boy, those doughnuts look good. So you give up, and feel like a failure.
The fact is, behavior change is hard. It takes time to change long-held habits. You’ll find it so much easier if you’ll instead focus on just ONE thing at a time.
If you’re not accustomed to exercising, then trying to do an hour a day is going to feel incredibly difficult to keep up with. Instead, make a plan to do a small amount each day at first. Be specific but pick something doable so that you can make it a daily habit without skipping out. For example, you decide to walk for 15 minutes every morning after breakfast.
Focus on creating one new habit, and one small change at a time. That way, you’ll be able to keep up with the lifestyle changes you’re making. Then you can grow it from there.
Don’t wait for motivation — do it anyway
If we only went to work when we “feel like it,” we’d be unemployed. In the same way, if you only exercise when you feel like it, it’s not going to consistently get done. And consistency is a key to success.
Chances are you’re not going to wake up every day and say, “Wow, I can’t WAIT to go work out!” I don’t, even though now I genuinely do like to exercise. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get done. I’ve set a schedule for myself where I exercise every morning.
One reason I exercise is because I know I’ll feel so much better when I do. Maybe I am stiff and sluggish to start, but after I get going my body starts perking up. By the end of my workout I feel like a different person, physically and emotionally, and I’m so thankful that I did it.
I’ve learned to not let how I initially feel or think dictate whether I do my workout. I simply follow my schedule and get it done.
Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success in life is just showing up. You could say the same for success in exercise. Just show up, and do what you can. Even if you only do half of it, that’s still better than nothing.
If you have trouble working out on your own, enroll in exercise classes, meet with a personal trainer, or partner with a workout buddy. All of those things can be done online these days. Do whatever it takes to get yourself on a set schedule to exercise.