Every year, early January brings with it a huge influx of new members at almost every single gym in town. If you fit into this influx, congratulations on taking your first step towards a new and healthier lifestyle. However, simply signing up for a gym membership does not guarantee success. Carrying your resolution past the first few weeks of January takes dedication, hard work, motivation and a solid plan. If you're not serious about your new resolution, do everyone a favor and stay out of the gym to make room for those who are.
Why Resolutioners Are Annoying
Every year, regular gym goers are annoyed by the giant influx of new members and they have pretty good reasons to be. These gym regulars go to the gym for the majority of the year and stay dedicated all year round to include Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. January to them is a normal gym month. The only difference is that in January, tons of new members crowd the gym taking up equipment and making a quick, high intensity workout almost impossible.
Regular gym goers are fine with new members enjoying a more fit lifestyle. What they are not fine with is new members jumping on the resolution bandwagon only to quit a few weeks later. If you're going to join a gym, make sure you're not just wasting space.
Step 1: Have a Measurable/Realistic Goal
The first step in having a serious resolution is to have a good goal. When identifying areas in your health that need improvement, make goals that can be tracked. If you're trying to lose weight, your goal should be, "lose 10 pounds each month for 3 months" rather than simply, "lose weight." Your goal should be set up in a way in which it can be easily measured. If your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time, you can easily check your progress. If your goal is to simply lose weight, you will never be satisfied with your progress and end up quitting due to a lack of motivation.
Your goal also needs to be realistic. If you are trying to lose 30 pounds in one month, you will fail because the changes needed to lose that much weight in such a short period of time are unhealthy and drastic. Changing too much too soon will also cause you to fail. Change requires sacrifice and too much sacrifice in a short period of time will erode your motivation levels quickly.
Step 2: Make Plan and Start Slow
Once you have goal, build a plan that will succeed. Figure out how many calories you need to eat each day and how much time you need to spend at the gym. These numbers will vary depending on your goals but the basic idea for losing weight is to move more and eat less.
Remember to approach your plan in a way that will give you time to adjust. It isn't realistic to expect to change all your unhealthy habits overnight. Make a plan that focuses on one problem area at a time. For example:
- Diet Changes
- Weeks 1-2
- Reduce my daily calorie intake from 3000/day to 2500/day
- Week 3-4
- Reduce my daily calorie intake from 2500/day to 2000/day
- Week 5-6
- Increase my intake of fruits and vegetables from 0 servings/day to 3 servings/day
- Week 7-8
- Increase my intake of fruits and vegetables from 3 servings/day to 5 servings/day
- Weeks 1-2
In the above example, over the coarse of two months, you've slowly decreased your calorie intake by 1000 calories per day and increased your intake of healthy fruits and vegetables from none to 5 per day. These slow, manageable changes are much more likely to turn into healthy habits than quick overnight ones.
Step 3: Put Your Plan Into Action Quickly
Once you have a solid plan, put it into action. Start going to the gym, eating less, buying healthier options and cutting out junk food. Start your plan as soon as possible. Your motivation is at its highest in the early new year when everyone's attention is on resolutions. The longer you wait to start, the less of a new year's effect you'll have.
The Bottom Line
Change never comes easy. If you follow a plan that values slow but consistent change over quick overnight changes, you will succeed in the long run.