80% of New Year's Resolutions Fail by February – Here's How to Keep Yours
By Sherry L. Granader, ACE, AFAA, NETA, ACSM, ASFA, BBU
While checking emails one day, I came across an article that touted “80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February.” As a Sports Nutritionist and fitness trainer for many years, I have heard many people state their New Year’s resolutions or fitness goals with confidence and self-assurance that they would certainly keep their goal. This is especially true for athletes who are training for all types of events from bodybuilding contests to the Boston marathon. And while these are ambitious and worthy goals, very few people experience the thrill of that kind of victory.
The Resolution- Not Want You Want But Why You Want It
Why is that? Part of the reason is that training for any event can be overwhelming because one has to change their entire life overnight, from strict eating habits to long hours in the gym or running for endless miles. For the everyday person that wants to lose weight, this is simply not realistic. One of the biggest reasons why people find it difficult to keep their resolution is that they know what they want but have no idea ‘why’ they want it. In general, they may want to lose weight for an upcoming wedding, be a good example or role model for their children or simply want more energy and focus that will help carry them through their day. Whatever it is, I always help my clients get ‘real specific’ when making their goal. The clearer that goal is, the more optimistic and encouraged they will be, making it more likely for them to succeed.
Taking One Habit at a Time
The best way that I have found success with my clients is by changing one habit at a time. For example, when I have a client that skips breakfast or goes way too long without food, we come up with a plan that will help them change that way of life. It helps when they understand why it is so important to have regular meals at regular intervals to keep that metabolism going at full throttle. For others, it might be drinking more water instead of soft drinks. Whatever the goal is, we take it one step at a time by changing one habit at a time. The new habit has to be realistic and when they have success with making that one change, we move on to the next goal, and so on.
Taking it Slow When Injured
Whenever I have a client that has an injury they are dealing with, I encourage them to take it slow and don’t rush the healing process. Using knee braces, ankle braces, back supports, and different products can help them remain safe from reinjuring the area while exercising. One company that I have recommended, Sportsbraces.com offers a wide selection of support braces and sleeves that can help you deal with anything from a sprained ankle, torn shoulder, ACL tear or bone fracture.
Plus, good nutrition including a diet of anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon, avocados, dark leafy greens, and nuts will go a long way in cultivating the healing process. Supplementing with turmeric has been very helpful for many of my clients in keeping the pain at bay without relying on anti-inflammatory drugs.
Seeing the Changes
One of the best parts of my job as a trainer and nutritionist is seeing the subtle changes in my clients. Their eyes are brighter, they have more energy, and the biggest benefit is that they are sleeping better. My goal is not to add stress to their life, but rather remove it with simple changes they can achieve with the least amount of ‘interruption’ in their daily life. It is a process that is enjoyable to watch. Who wants to continuously do something they hate? I make getting in shape fun by exploring what he or she likes to do whether it is incorporating yoga or Pilates into their routine or coming up with delicious recipes they look forward to making.
The Cheat Day
The best part of my plan is giving my clients a “Cheat Day.” They can forget about exercising and eating healthy for one day. “Eat whatever you want,” I say to them as they smile and look forward to that day. While they think it is going to be wonderful to eat junk food again, cheesecake, and whatever else comes to mind, it always backfires on them. Why? Because they don’t feel good. And that is when they have their "ah hah" moment. After eating ‘clean’ all week and then choosing to have a ‘cheat’ day on Saturday and go all out, they immediately notice the difference in how they feel. This is a huge motivator to eating healthy on a regular basis.
Of course, there will always be times when we want to indulge in a special meal or dessert, but when one is aware of how making healthier choices makes such a difference in how they feel, it makes it easier to automatically go with the “better bad choice.” No one wants to feel deprived but as long as they are making good choices most of the time, there is no point in feeling bad about the occasional indulgence. If you eat more unhealthy foods than you should, do better next time. A good way to think about this is if you get a flat tire on your car. You are not about to go around and flatten the other good tires – right? No, you fix the flat and move on. It is the same thing when you are trying to improve your health, lose weight, or compete a marathon. You get up, brush yourself off, and keep going.
Create a Support System
As a personal trainer for many years, I noticed that my clients appreciate support, but not just from me. Another way to keep your New Year’s resolution and get healthy is to ask a friend or co-worker if they want to go to the gym with you or coordinate your lunch time together so you can help each other make healthy choices. It really can help you stay motivated when you have others in your life supporting your efforts and fitness goals.
Check in With Yourself
Whether you are an athlete or haven’t moved off the couch in two years, making a decision or resolution to get fit means taking some time to check in with yourself and see how you can make improvements in the future, starting today. Give yourself something specific that you can do right now that will make an improvement in your health. It might as simple as investing in a nice water bottle that you can take to work with you to remind you to drink more water from the water cooler throughout the day. Figure out what is important to you and set a goal that comes from within that is realistic. If certain areas of your environment are preventing you from making progress, change those aspects of your life. Get the junk food out of the refrigerator and replace them with healthier options such as organic apples with almond butter or hummus and fresh vegetables.
Don’t try to accomplish too many goals all at once. Otherwise, you will feel overwhelmed and that only leads to failure. Track your progress with a notebook or calendar. When you can mark off seven days in a row that you have increased your water intake or made it to the gym every day, that will go a long way in increasing the likelihood that you will not want to break that healthy new pattern. Celebrating those milestones, no matter how small, are important for success. You will be amazed at how much satisfaction you will feel when you are healthy and joyful from the inside out.
Sherry is a certified Nutritionist, Writer, National Speaker, and Ghostwriter of books for Natural Medicine Doctors and Clinical Nutritionists. She is also an Author of 2 healthy cookbooks, “Eat Right, Feel Good, Lose Weight, Have Fun – You won’t be hungry!” and “Soy You Wanna Lose Weight?” Sherry’s most requested topic for speaking is “Throw Out The Diet, NOT The Food!”
Sherry is a Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in Reformer Pilates, Mat Pilates, Yoga, Body Pump, STEP and Cardio with over 20 years experience in the industry. She served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK and hosted her own weekly “Healthy Living” segments for PBS television. Sherry is passionate about helping people achieve a pain-free life through whole foods, proper strength and stretching exercises.