It’s estimated that 80 percent of people abandon their resolutions by the beginning of February. That number is likely even higher for fitness-related resolutions because too many – driven by the “new year, new you” marketing mantra – attempt to reinvent themselves to achieve an unrealistic goal.
Overwhelmed by the burden of making sweeping lifestyle changes based on impractical expectations, it’s no wonder so many give up. But that doesn’t have to be you!
What you might not realize is that the key to avoiding “resolution overwhelm” is to ensure that your health and fitness goals are realistic and your means to achieve them are sound.
If you made a resolution you’re struggling to keep or have already abandoned, then it’s time to take a step back to reexamine and revise.
Read on for a roadmap to restructure and recommit to your get-fit resolutions in ways that will make them stick throughout the year.
Make non-disruptive changes to existing habits.
Too often, we structure a resolution that requires major changes to established, everyday habits. For instance, getting up an hour earlier to work-out each day might not sound like a huge life disruption, but if you’ve been waking up at 7 a.m. every day for 20 years, then just the act of waking up an hour earlier is going to be a struggle – never mind getting yourself to work-outs. I’m not saying it’s impossible; however, let’s be realistic about a resolution’s difficulty level in the context of our ingrained habits.
Rather than resolving to make changes that knowingly create significant lifestyle disruptions, we can make non-disruptive enhancements to our unhealthy habits and leverage our existing healthy habits.
For instance, if you’re a daily coffee drinker who uses cream and sugar, could you decrease the amount you use, or replace the cream or sugar with a healthier alternative? Ten years ago, I replaced a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee with a sprinkle of antioxidant-rich cinnamon and never looked back. Averaging two cups of coffee daily means I’ve avoided ingesting 7,300 teaspoons of sugar over the last decade! That’s a small change with a big long-term return.
You can also make non-disruptive habit changes with habit stacking, a practice that involves adding a new healthy habit right before, during, or directly after one of the ingrained habits you automatically do daily, like brushing your teeth or showering. Personally, I do 50 body-weight squats while brushing my teeth twice daily and do 20 pushups right before I get in the shower. That’s 700 squats and at least 140 pushups weekly (sometimes more if I shower twice a day). It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it definitely adds up. Could you add a boost of exercise to one of your existing daily habits?
Focus on what you’re already doing right – and do more of it.
There’s a tendency with resolutions to focus on fixing what we think we’re doing wrong – like “not exercising enough” or “eating too many snacks.” But when we look at what we’re already doing right and strive to do more of it, that change in perspective can accomplish the same goal in a much more positive and sustainable way.
Think about how often you take a walk. Maybe you already have a daily walking habit either by yourself or walking your dog. Could you extend your walking time by several minutes? Those extra minutes add up!
Maybe you don’t have a regular walking habit. That’s okay. Think about the necessary times each day you do walk a distance and get creative about ways to extend it. This could be as simple as parking further away from your office entrance, if you drive to work. Or maybe there’s a flight of stairs in your home or office. What if, at least once daily, you doubled back and did the stairs twice? Remember, don’t discount the value of making small changes; they add up to big returns over time.
To learn more about the benefits of walking and proper walking form, watch this video.
How’s your water intake? Drinking water is important for overall health and also increases feelings of fullness to help you avoid unplanned snacking. I’m sure you’re already drinking some, but could you increase it? It’s recommended that we drink 72-100 ounces of water daily. Consider the suggestion from the previous tip and swap out another not-as-healthy beverage you already drink daily to increase your daily water intake.
Even better – add Thorne’s Catalyte to your water to elevate your hydration with its electrolyte formula.* The lemon-lime flavor (low in sugar and carbs) also makes your water taste great!
Keep track of your health and fitness-related activities.
It’s easy to let things slide when no one is watching. But when we track our activity, we’re taking an extra step in personal accountability that makes us feel like “someone” is watching. Whether it’s a smartphone app, watch, ring, or just a notebook, it tends to embody a bit of our conscience.
Accountability is arguably one of the most significant factors in ensuring you stick to your health and fitness resolutions. That’s why fitness trackers are so effective. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that people walk almost an extra mile daily when using an activity tracker on their phone or watch.
In addition to the accountability factor, fitness trackers also take advantage of our competitive nature by encouraging us to do more. When my Apple Watch sends me a message saying, “You can still make it happen,” it motivates me to make “it” happen – whatever it is that my watch is telling me I haven’t done yet – like reaching 10,000 steps or spending more time standing. And that’s not just me – the BJSMstudy authors found that the participants in the study did better when their fitness trackers provided prompts.
Regardless of how you track your fitness – using wearable technology, downloading an app to your phone, or simply keeping a journal – it will inevitably help keep your health and fitness resolutions on track.
Invest in positive health changes.
If you have the funds to do so, making a resolution that involves investing in a way that increases your health and fitness is arguably one of the easiest ways to make a sustainable resolution. Of course, like any other resolution, it’s only sustainable if your purchase realistically fits your lifestyle and doesn’t require an overly ambitious commitment. Far too many people have a cardio machine in the back corner of their bedroom that now serves as an oversized, expensive clothes hanger. Just because you purchase a piece of exercise equipment, there is no guarantee you’ll use it. It’s wisest to only make those purchases when you’ve already proven your commitment to that level and type of exercise outside of your home.
The purchases that I suggest result in easy-to-sustain changes because they require little to no additional effort by making activities you already do healthier and more beneficial.
When health and fitness are priorities, sleep should be as well. During sleep our body focuses on recovery, which is why sleep takes up nearly one-third of our lives. To enhance our ability to get quality sleep, we can invest in products that help us sleep better, like ergonomic pillows, a high-quality mattress to increase comfort, a sound machine to help us fall asleep, or a climate control mattress pad to help us stay asleep.
For help falling asleep, try practicing the breathing exercises and yoga-inspired stretches in this article. And take Thorne’s Sleep Test to uncover physiological factors that disrupt your sleep and find out which supplements can help.
Healthy meal services
Eating better is a popular resolution that generally fails due to logistical issues, such as lack of access to healthy foods, inability to cook, and time constraints. If you can afford it, you can overcome those obstacles by using healthy meal delivery services. With a quick Google search, you can find numerous options for healthy pre-made meal deliveries that meet a variety of nutrition requirements – from gluten-free and paleo to Whole 30 and everything in between.
Consider taking Thorne’s Weight Management Test to gain insights into key biomarkers associated with weight management and receive personalized advice for supplementation that will best help you meet your weight management goals.
You’ve probably heard that sitting can be as bad as smoking when it comes to your health, so it’s important to decrease sitting time. Investing in a standing desk is a great way to avoid prolonged bouts of sitting. In addition, swapping out your desk chair for an exercise ball – a much less-expensive investment – will make your sitting time more active and less sedentary.
For ideas on how you can break up your sitting time with tension-releasing, posture-fixing exercises, watch this video.
Change your resolution mantra
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and strategies to restructure your health and fitness resolutions for long-term success, it’s time to let go of the impractical “new year, new you” mantra and replace it with something more appropriate: “Simple sustainable steps: happier, healthier you.”
Special note: This blog was originally published on Thorne’s Take 5 Daily blog and adapted from content created by the same author and published on CNN here.
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