The start of the New Year is always a time for reflection, and is where many of us put our willpower to the test by taking up a New Year resolution aimed at achieving fitness goals to create a better version of ourselves, often in vain.
In fact according to a survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of BUPA, published in 2015, a quarter of Brits said they’d made a New Year’s resolution for 2016. Of these, a staggering 88% did not keep their resolution, with 66% falling off the bandwagon within a month!
DW’s own research from 2014 confirmed as much, showing that 78% of people who made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape failed to stick to their plan.
This year, we’re going to give you a little extra help to ensure you stay on the straight and narrow until at least Valentine’s Day – after all, you should love your body and don’t cheat on your fitness regime!
Here’s some expert advice to follow…
Why don’t New Year’s resolutions always work?
Though many resolutions fall apart early in the year, there hasn’t been enough research into why they go south – mostly because we can’t accurately measure the success of a resolution.
But personal trainer at Fitness First, Eddy Diget, gave us his expert opinion as to why many of us struggle to see New Year’s resolution through.
“[People] lack support! Something in their life has urged them to do something about whatever the [resolution] was about. If [it is] losing weight, for example, they have tried before and made ‘occasional’, excuses why things have not gone as planned,” he commented.
DW’s resident expert on all things fitness, Carly Tierney, noted that there are all sorts of reasons resolutions fail, such as lack of willpower, lack of specific targets or unrealistic timescales.
“People make resolutions with the intention of motivating themselves without understanding that they actually need to change their habits, rewire their brains and be active in their quest for change,” she remarked.
Is there a formula for success?
There is no reason why January shouldn’t be a time for personal change, so that come Valentine’s Day there’s a whole new you to celebrate.
“Confucius said, ‘It is not the end of the journey or how you get there that is important – it is the start of such a journey [that is important]’,” Eddy reminded us.
In the same way, starting your resolutions the right way is all that matters.
To this end, Eddy gave his tips to help you stick to your New Year’s resolution.
- Keep a booklet - track your progress
- Ignore any negative comments from outsiders. “This is personal to you,” he said
- Aim for small-scale resolutions – don’t overstretch yourself!
- Give yourself time – everybody is different. Just because some people can lose weight quickly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. Be patient!
Carly also weighed in, adding:
- Have an 'accountability buddy', someone close to you that you have to report to
- Celebrate your success between milestones. Don't wait for the goal to be finally completed
- Focus your thinking on new behaviours and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits
- Focus on the present. What's the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
- Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future
How easy is it to form good habits?
Resolutions come from wanting to make a change in life, to remove what we consider are bad habits and replace them with good ones.
According to an article in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), good habit formation often fails because no one is ever taught how easy habits are created – it is down to simple repetition. Put your mind to making the change, and keep at it.
Asked about how we can replace bad habits with good ones, Eddy remarked that it begins with being truthful to oneself.
“Admit you have bad habits – ‘good ones’ are subjective to your way of thinking, but might drive others around you nuts,” he told us.
Carly noted that good habits are just as easy to make as bad habits.
“Science tells us that the more we do something the easier it becomes. Habits move from being conscious and therefore difficult to maintain, to being unconscious and something that we do without thinking,” she commented.
Carly also told us that, as a rule of thumb, it takes 66 days to break a habit and learn a new one.
“Use your willpower, focus on your ‘why’, stay accountable and you will find that it's so worth it and so much easier than you ever imagined once you fly past the initial hurdles.”
As hard as it is to make sure your New Year goals last beyond January, assistance is always available from DW – so put our tips into practice, and join your nearest gym!