Like most commitments, deciding to turn over a new leaf (or three) at the start of the new year is typically an undertaking that's as easy in its initial phases as it is exciting. However, sticking to the new regimens that you've imposed on yourself in the long haul can often bring more challenge than you bargained for— after all, it's a new year's resolution, not a new month.
Arguably, the most trying of these year-long commitments tend to come from the wheelhouses of fitness and physical wellness. But what can you do to successfully keep the promises you've made to yourself?
Remember: first and foremost, it's important that you be serious about any commitments to new fitness strategies, and truly decide to make the effort to stick to them— with the right attitude, the rest simply comes down to keeping yourself in check by setting concrete standards, and sticking to them.
Below, we've put together some of the most effective general strategies when it comes to forming good habits and staying accountable to your goals.
For some people, this step may sound obvious, but for others it may be unheard of. Keeping a consistent, typed or written log of your workout progress— instead of simply "winging it" —can often serve as the difference between keeping your workout habits around for the long haul, or moving on to newer things once your motivation wears off.
Not only will keeping a weekly log allow you to compare your sets and mile times to see how you've improved, it will also add an air of legitimacy to your schedule— it's a lot more difficult to blow off a day of working out when it means that you'll be jotting down a big fat zero under that week's progress.
There's a reason the most successful weightlifters and athletes tend to stay humble: in addition to keeping themselves grateful for the progress they make, avoiding the impulse to boast about gains, weight loss, etc. can keep you from lowering your own bar for success. In fact, some studies have even indicated that telling others about your accomplishments (or even your plans to achieve new goals) can trigger the same mechanisms in the brain as those you receive from a job well done.
Think of it this way: if you're bragging about your accomplishments, you're basically telling yourself that you're content with the point you've already reached, and have no real desire for improvement. Try to treat visible progress as a sign that you're on the right track, rather than an indication that you've already "won."
If you have friends that you trust to keep yourself accountable, it can be beneficial to reach out to them about your new fitness goals and ask them to help keep you on the right track. While it may sound simple, having your goals be known by a trustworthy third party— working out X number of times per week, cutting out junk food, etc. —can help to emphasize their importance.
After all, you won't want to let another person down in addition to flaking out on your own private ambitions. If you're very lucky, your road to peak physical condition may even inspire them to collaborate, leading them to get fit with you.