Staying Fit Even If You've Already Blown Your Resolution

Words: Vanessa Salvia

Words: Vanessa Salvia
Photo: tortoon

Did you start out the year with a clear idea of how you wanted your fitness journey to look in 2021? And then, let me guess, you had some extra busy days or you were too tired, or you over-ate, and now you feel like you blew your resolutions and you've given up?

The important thing to remember, no matter how you started 2021 and where you are right now, is that it's OK for your fitness plan to look different than you imagined it would. The New York Post reports that only about 8% of people who make New Year's resolutions actually keep them, so you are far from alone. Furthermore, studies can pinpoint the date that most people stop following their resolutions to be January 19.  

Be Realistic

There are many reasons why people aren't able to maintain a resolution for very long. One reason is that people set too many goals. Another simple reason is that they set goals that are unattainable or unrealistic. Let's say you want to save money, exercise more, eat better, lose weight, and organize the garage. Those are all great goals, but when added up, the mental and time energy it takes to actually do all of those things, on top of what you're already doing in a day, is hard to maintain. 

It's far better to set just one goal. A good benchmark for goals is for them to be SMART — that is:

SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Well-defined and clear
  • Measurable: You can track your progress 
  • Achievable: Attainable 
  • Realistic: Within reach 
  • Timely: A starting date and a target date

A SMART goal related to eating better would be to add a serving of fruit to each breakfast. Adding a second exercise-related SMART goal could be to do squats the entire time you brush your teeth, or taking the dog out for a walk that's five minutes longer each time. 

Just saying that you "want to get in shape" is a great goal, but it isn't definable. That makes it hard to achieve. Specify what "getting in shape" means to you and what daily and weekly steps you can take to reach that goal. The more specific the better, because that gives you a roadmap to follow. 

Change Your Thinking

Yes, the purpose of a New Year's resolution is usually to change some behavior, but usually, the real thing we need to do is change our thinking. How? For instance, being an "all or nothing" thinker can be part of the problem. If you miss a workout day, then you do no workout at all. If you eat a piece of cake, then you eat junk the rest of the day because you've "already blown it." Stop that thinking!

It's far better, and more understandable and realistic, to do some workouts that you have time for than to do none at all. It's far better to eat a slice of cake and then eat your healthy dinner than to not eat the healthy dinner at all. Your fitness plan doesn't have to be perfect and it doesn't have to look the same each day. Just focus on better, not perfect. 

Salvage Your Goals If You've Already Broken Them

Replace the bad habit with something else

If you didn't keep a resolution, examine why. Is it related to another habit that needs to change first? For instance, if you like to smoke while you're talking on the phone, give yourself something else to do while you're talking on the phone rather than just telling yourself "no smoking." Get a coloring book or doodle pad. Wash dishes while you're talking on the phone. Go for a walk while you're talking on the phone. Replace the habit you're trying to change with something else to break the pattern. 

Plan your time so you can achieve the goal

Think ahead to what your day or week looks like and arrange things so you can have your workout time and still do the other things. Let people close to you know what your plan is and why.

Track your progress

Use a notepad in which you write down what you did to achieve your goal each day. Or if you are someone who embraces technology, get a fitness tracker app, diet tracker app, or a habit tracker app. Many of these apps can give you daily reminders of activities you program into them and they let you track and monitor your progress over time. 

Commit to Doing Something for A Short Time

One of my yoga instructors challenged her students to commit to doing yoga for only 1 minute, a single minute, each day. Of course, a single minute is not much time. But if you choose to do yoga for only a single minute you could sit or stand and do some stretches or just breathe with your eyes closed for a single minute. Of course, she knew that once you were doing something for a single minute there was a good chance you would do it for longer than that. 

If you've given yourself a list of exercises to do at home, try doing them throughout the day rather than all at once. And if it still seems too much, just commit to doing pushups for 30 seconds, and then stop. Try it. There's a good chance you'll do pushups for 30 seconds and then some. But if not, that's OK!

Be Flexible

If you decided that you are going to hit the floor when your alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and jump right on the exercise bike until 7, you might be really discouraged if you hit the floor at 6:30 a.m. instead. No problem! Jump on the exercise bike and ride until 7. Try again the next day. As mentioned already, some is better than none, and it's perfectly fine. You'll feel better doing some than doing none, and you will eventually be ready to start at 6 a.m. if that's what you really want to do. If it turns out that a workout every day from 6:30 to 7 is better than every other day for an hour, embrace that and do what works for your body, your time, and your schedule. 

Reward Yourself

You've done it! Now, what would make it all worthwhile? Watching Netflix for an hour or three? A cookie? A long hot bath? Cash in whatever reward you set for yourself only if you achieved your goal for the day. Give yourself a better reward at the end of the week, and at the end of the month. 

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