How to keep your New Year’s fitness resolution (for once)

This year do it the smart way! Tips for achieving your quest for better health and wellness.

We’ve all been there. Every year many of us repeat the same pattern over and over again.

First we power eat all through December. We devour the delicious treats of the season: shortbread cookies, mini quiches, eggnog with a splash (or two) of rum. The endless parade of delicious nibbles goes on and on.

And then with all those parties, shopping, and family celebrations, we find ourselves having way too much fun to squeeze in any physical activity. It’s all one long, happy blur until New Year’s Eve, when the time comes to put on that slinky outfit for a night out on the town. That’s when the sober reality sets in…all those goodies have settled right on to our hips.

Disappointed with ourselves as we loosen our belt loop or put on the control top panty hose, we steadfastly mutter under our breath: “This is the year I’m finally going to start exercising, so I’ll be healthier and be able to control my weight.” As the clock strikes midnight, we profess this resolution to our family and friends, only to promptly forget about it the next day, or like some people, about two weeks later.

How do we stop this annual cycle? How can we actually achieve our New Year’s fitness resolution this year rather than have our admirable quest for better health and wellness fall by the wayside as in the past? Many would say the key to success is to recognize that our New Year’s fitness resolution is simply a GOAL, and that in order to succeed, we should apply the same principles as many organizations do when planning their next business year.

The first step is setting the goal. A common analogy used in organizations is that a goal should be SMART if it is to be achieved:

S for Specific – Choose a specific outcome to achieve as a result of your plan to be fit. For example, I want to lower my cholesterol or lose weight versus I want to be healthier or look better.

M for Measurable – I want my cholesterol to be under 5.0 or I want to lose 10 pounds are quantifiable goals.

A for Achievable – If the smallest you’ve ever been as an adult is a size 10, it might not be achievable to aim to be a size 0. Perhaps if I’m currently a size 18, was a size 10 when I was 18-years-old, then now I would like to be a size 14. That seems achievable.

R for Realistic – Maybe running a marathon is not a realistic goal given your commitments, even though it might be achievable if you had unrestricted time to train. Be realistic about what it is you want to do – if it’s not something you enjoy, you’re less likely to stick with it. Remember, physical activity can be any activity that elevates your heart rate and uses your muscles. If you enjoy hiking in the outdoors, plan brisk walks or snow shoeing. Go dancing if that’s what you like to do.