Make it Stick – New Year’s Resolutions
By Dubuque Physical Therapy Team
January 13, 2021
Written by: Brad Kruse, PT, DPT, EDD, SCS, ATC, CSCS
Many things about this past year were far from normal. As we turn the page on 2020, one thing that remains is the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.
The 3 most common New Year’s resolutions are to: exercise more, eat better and to lose weight.
There is a reason that Planet Fitness is the sponsor of the ABC Times Square New Year’s celebration. As you turn on your television, or log into your favorite digital platform, you will see numerous advertisements related to exercise and health. Although intentions are good, 80% of people will fail to achieve at least some of their New Year’s resolutions.
Be among the 20%
A myriad of obstacles to success in achieving your New Year’s resolution exist. When it comes to exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, most of those obstacles are things largely under our control. Exercise, along with other health related activities or choices, is 20% knowledge and 80% behavior. Accept that behavior change is HARD and takes TIME, but be confident that you can meet your goals.
The “why” must be present in your goal(s). To boost success, set goals that are:
Meaningful: You must have a fairly strong, personal reason to make a change
Measurable: Be specific. It’s easier to measure success when you “walk 3x/week” compared to “walk more”.
Achievable: Be lofty, but identify smaller goals along the way that will be indicators of progress.
For example: “I will walk 3 miles, 3 times per week to help control my blood pressure” is a goal that may take time to achieve. Depending upon your current level of activity, it may be necessary to start with walking 3 blocks and advance from there.
Once you have established the “why” regarding the change you want to make, the next step is to make a plan. It is far too easy to say “I’ll exercise later today”. Later today easily becomes tomorrow or next week. Planned activities should change over time as you meet the smaller goals you previously have set for yourself. Research shows that you are more likely to adhere to an exercise plan if you specifically plan:
WHAT you are going to do?
What type of exercise might you enjoy?
As the saying goes, you must walk before you run.
Perform body weight exercise before you go to the weight room.
WHERE you are going to do it?
You don’t always have to go to a gym to exercise. Exercise equipment may be nice, but it is often not necessary.
It will not always be nice enough to go outside. Gyms are not always open.
WHEN the activity will be performed?
Consider your schedule and commitments, then find a place in your schedule where you can include exercise.
When it comes to exercise (or weight loss etc.), there are a lot of opinions out there. From television to social media, there is no shortage of people who say they have the answer and are willing to sell you their product or gimmick.
Truth is, the best exercise is the one you will do and enjoy.
Motivation is difficult to sustain over time. Motivation trends up and down in relation to various situations in our lives. Sometimes we fail to see progress, or we have a setback that makes us want to quit. Understand that this is normal. Here are a few things that can help boost motivation and help you sustain activities that can lead to the positive changes you seek.
“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”. – Arthur Ashe
This quote from the late Arthur Ashe sums up a great strategy for joining the 20% of people who are successful in keeping their New Year’s resolutions. Regardless of the nature of your goals, success starts with believing in yourself. Changing behavior so that you can work toward your goals hinges on choices you make each day.
Regardless of your success or failure in the past, today is a new day, a new opportunity. Make the most of it.