This January millions of us will be making healthy resolutions aimed at improving our bodies, health and wellbeing. It's a great practice and always begins with such good intentions. Unfortunately, all too often, by the time we reach March gyms are empty, fat is re-accumulating and those healthy resolutions we set are just another broken promise to ourselves.
Below are five common New Years resolution mistakes you should avoid at all costs to set yourself up with the greatest possible chance of success in 2015.
1) Non-Specific Goal
One of the fundamental mistakes people make when setting their new years resolutions is to make their end goal too general. For example "I will lose weight in 2015" unfortunately a goal this unspecific will not warrant targeted action. For example if weight loss is a resolution for you in 2015 the chances are it's been your goal for some time or has been a recurring theme in your life. You would stand a far better chance of successful goal completion by stating a more specific target like I will be '10 pounds lighter by April 1st' or 'I will gain 5lb of lean body mass over the next 3 months' this way the results are quantifiable and specific.
2) Failure To Plan
Now that you have your goals in place it's important to determine what you are going to have to do to achieve them. You'll probably need to exercise more and eat less than you have been, but what kind of training do you need to do? What kind of foods will you need to eat? And how much of them? Don't be too eager to get in the gym on the 1st of January if you don't have a plan. An hour spent researching the right training protocols may be worth more than 10 hours of guesswork in the gym. Alternatively you always have the option to outsource this task to a local fitness trainer or even an online personal trainer who will be able to deliver a program specifically designed to your goals, body type and time frame.
3) Don't Undertake Extreme Measures
Don't Lose sight of the fact that a New Year's resolution is supposed to be a commitment to a healthy change in your life, too many people make the mistake of introducing an extremely restrictive diet plan or an overwhelming amount of exercise all on day one, this inevitably leads to burn out, a lack of results and frustration.
Instead, take your time to introduce one healthy habit at a time so that it's well established. I often advise clients to do nothing more than start to make healthier food choices during the first two weeks of a weight loss plan, I don't even insist on exercise during these two weeks. Once this habit has been established light exercise can be introduced, this way you'll have taken 14 days to establish the two hardest habits to establish and from there on in you can optimise your effort and take bigger steps, but this is always better achieved once healthy habits have been installed.
4) Gain Sources Of Accountability
Accountability always helps when pursuing a fitness goal, it affords you the feeling that you are not the only one invested in your achievements. Accountability can be as simple as letting your friends and family know about your goal and appealing for them to make it as easy for you as possible (not giving you a hard time for not drinking, eating healthy etc). Of course working with a trainer is a way to gain direct accountability from a knowledgable professional who be able to add motivation, though this can be an expensive option. Another option is to harness the power of social media, publicly commit to your goal on Facebook, join a fitness community or an App like fitocracy where you'll meet people in a similar position to you, willing to lend their support and guidance.
5) Plan A Reward
When setting any kind of goal it is important and a lot of fun to plan something you'll treat yourself to upon completion. This way there is always something to look forward to and an added motivator to get you through the tougher moments and help you make the right decisions, particularly when it comes to meal planning which is the biggest challenge for most people. Some people like to have rewards that are the antithesis of everything they've been doing to achieve their goal, for example a big chocolate cake after weeks of healthy eating, whereas others chose something more in line with their goal like a new pair of running shoes or an activity mini- break. The nature of the reward is not the most important factor here, its that it incentivises the successful completion of your goal, so it really is a case of just finding what works for you.
Try to keep in mind that resolutions are meant to to be a catalyst for positive change in your life. Keep your resolutions positive and don't make life hard for yourself, healthy living has never been about restrictive diets and excessive exercise, real results come from consistent effort, one successful day after another.