New Year always feels like a fresh start. It is a great time to take stock and make positive changes, and challenge ourselves. Among the most popular New Year’s Resolutions goals are those centred around fitness and weight management outcomes. However, these can be tough to achieve, especially in harsh winter weather, and with busy new year schedules to contend with.
Research has demonstrated that less than 10% of people who set a New Year’s Resolution stick to it. Indeed, multi- sport platform STRAVA even coined the name ‘Quitters’ Day’ for January 19, as this was that day that they notice post New Year activity spikes start to drop.
So, to help you beat the odds and turn you New Year Fitness Resolution into a lifelong change, here’s our simple, 3 step guide…
1. Don’t make resolutions, form habits.
It has been demonstrated that habit forming can begin as little as 18 days after a person adopts a new behaviour. 66 days is the average time it takes for a new habit to become ‘automatic’. That is, an everyday part of life. That gives you plenty of time to get well past quitters’ day. It would even take you beyond the second week of February (by which time 90% of resolutions have been abandoned).
The secret to forming a habit is consistency. To keep things simple, change just one thing, then be as consistent with that change as possible. Ways to help you keep things consistent include:
Setting a time
If your resolution is to swim, cycle, or run more, you could set the resolution of going for 30 minutes at 7 am each morning. This is less than 3% of a full day. So, finding a time that works for you and can be fitted into your routine, without causing too much disruption could have a huge impact on your overall health and fitness.
Although it’s important to have rest days, it is also a good idea to avoid having 2 consecutive days off, as this can set back habit forming.
Strength in Numbers.
Although the lock-down makes it harder to connect with people from outside our homes, we can still head out to exercise once a day with our family, or with one person from outside our home. Alternatively, there are several online platforms like Zwift where you can exercise in the virtual world, and now, countless classes and clubs that have taken to platforms such as Zoom, to keep us all motivated, connected, and active.
Having a friend, family member, or partner to go through the journey with you, makes it much more likely that you will both succeed in committing to a behaviour change. Partly, because you feel accountable to the other person, and also because doing things you enjoy, especially with people you enjoy spending time with, makes it much more likely that you will continue.
Enjoy what you’re doing.
Vary your routes to explore the local area. If you live in a city or town, chances are that there are roads within a mile of your house that you’ve never been down. Whether you’re admiring some unique architecture, looking for inspiration for your garden, or just curious, take this opportunity to get to know your town or city.
It is much easier to commit to a habit if you enjoy what you’re doing. This can be as simple as moving your hobby outdoors! How many people have an exercise bike gathering dust in the corner of a room, but find riding outdoors much more stimulating and rewarding.
2. Set Goals
A well known acronym, SMART is is a brilliant way to set successful goals. SMART goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and set within a Time frame. It is also a good idea to set several intermediate goals, so that you have a constant focus in mind; short, medium, and long term.
Rather than setting abstract goals, like ‘I want to get fitter and lose weight this year’, you could break things down and set specific targets. For example ‘I want to set a short-term goal of running 25 kilometres a week by March’. In the medium term, ‘I want to be able to run continually for 50 minutes by June’. Then, ‘I want to be able to complete a half marathon, at a bucket list event, by September.’
Having your main or long-term goal as a reward can really incentivise you to commit to your habit. So, booking a bucket list event, or entering your dream race can be the perfect motivator, while also having short- and medium-term goals to work on in the meantime.
Remember that your goals should be clear, easy to track and measure, and should be achievable within the time frame set. This way, you can keep track of consistent progress, which should help to keep you motivated.
3. Look forward, but also learn from the past.
While goal setting can be a great motivator and having targets and events to aim at can help keep you on track, you can also learn a lot from your past successes and failures.
Remembering past successes, and how they made you feel, can be a great motivator for future successes.
But, more than that, you can learn from past successes. Events where you set a PB, or reached a new milestone. Occasions where you managed to surprise yourself. Were there any specific factors that you think might have contributed to this success? These factors might be something mentioned above, such as having support, or having a big event in mind to use as a goal, but there could also be other factors at work, such as keeping a training diary or raising money for a particular charity.
The best way to learn from failures, is to stop looking at them as failures. Instead, see them as another part of your journey. Consider what went wrong. Was your goal too big? Does it need breaking down further? Or did you try to achieve too much too soon? This way, you can avoid repeating the same mistakes time and time again.
The most successful resolutions are the ones easily become part of your daily life. Try to turn one simple change into a habit. Remember, habits stick.
Looking for the perfect event to motivate you to your next goal? You can find all our Running, Cycling and Triathlon events for 2021 and even into 2022, on our website.
Our competition with @EnglandAthletic from the May version of the Edge Newsletter send has now finished. One runner is going to the 2022 Rome Marathon.
Congrats Dominque Childs, you are our lucky winner. Our team will be in touch. We'll see you in Rome #RomeMarathon2022 😃🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/oOFHECNJRe