It’s that time of year again- time to sit down and think about what to change to be better in the New Year. For those who are ready to get healthier, stronger and happier, they are definitely not alone. In fact, 66% of people who make a New Year’s resolution set some type of fitness or healthy living goal. The top two resolutions for Canadians of 2015 were to lose weight and work out more; and chances are this trend isn’t going to change for 2016.

The problem is, many people who make these over-zealous resolutions are destined for failure. Many might have even failed in the past. There is no question that this can be discouraging, but a past failure should not be a reason not to try. In many cases, all this is needed is a few, helpful, get-started right, tips.  

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Think about what can be done right away to super-charge a New Year’s resolution. If a little help is needed, start with the 10 tips here:

  1. Establish realistic goals. When setting a goal, keeping them small and manageable is essential. Progress is not defined by huge strides, but rather taking small, impactful, baby steps. Break larger goals into smaller, manageable, mini-goals for the best chance of success.

  2. Get down to the nitty-gritty details of the goal. Regardless of what a person’s fitness or healthy living goal is, being general with the results is a sure-fire way to fail. Instead, be specific: how many pounds; how it will feel to fit in a smaller size; overall goal physique; reaction of family and friends.

  3. Outline a plan of action. Make decisions (ahead of time) of how temptation will be dealt with, such as having a dessert or skipping an exercise class. This may include using positive thinking or how “bad” it may affect the end goal.

  4. Create a pros and cons list. Keep motivation at a maximum by making a list of pros and cons related to the set goal. If a day proves to be challenging, be sure to reference the list.

  5. Talk about the goals. Don’t keep a resolution secret. Be sure to tell family members and friends who will be there to help along the way, providing support and encouragement. If possible, grab a buddy with the same resolution or goals and work together to meet them.

  6. Reward successes. This doesn’t mean splurging on an entire box of chocolates, but providing some type of treat (that won’t contradict the resolution) is extremely beneficial. This could be a new outfit or going to the movies with a friend.

  7. Keep track of progress. Each small success is a reason to celebrate, but this will never be known if some type of tracking is not used. Keeping a food and activity journal can be extremely beneficial.

  8. Don’t quit because of a bump in the road. Slipping occasionally is going to happen. This doesn’t mean to stop working toward goals altogether.

  9. Stick with it. According to experts, it takes about 21 days to make some type of new activity a habit and six months for it to become a personality trait. This will not happen overnight, which means patience and persistence is needed.

  10. Keep trying – no matter what. Many find their resolutions completely hopeless by mid-February. This is common, but don’t worry. Simply start over. Recommit for 24 hours and renew energy for reaching the original goal. This will help anyone get back on track.

Avoiding the “Diet Blues”

One of the biggest challenges for those who are trying to minimize unhealthy eating habits and live a healthier life is dieting. Feeling limited makes cheating extremely appealing. The good news is, there are a few things that can be done to minimize these feelings of diet deprivation:

  • Find alternatives that are good to eat. For example, for those who love mac ‘n cheese, substitute this carb-filled treat with spaghetti squash noodles and low-fat cheese.

  • Don’t eliminate an entire food group. Trying to get rid of all dairy, or all gluten or all carbs is a huge mistake. Instead, minimize how much is eaten and choose more items from better food groups, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

  • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time.

  • Give in from time to time. A square of dark chocolate or handful of potato chips is not going to derail a solid plan. It will also minimize the feelings of deprivation a dieter has.

Getting an Exercise Routine Started

For those who have not exercised in years, getting started is often the biggest challenge. The last thing that anyone should do is try an “all-or-nothing” approach. When starting out, remember to go slow. Work out two to three times a week for at least 30 minutes per session, with rest days in between. This will allow time to see how the body will respond. Some other tips that will help achieve success when starting out exercising includes:

  • Stretch before and after exercising – EVERY time.

  • Mix up the workout routine to avoid getting bored and to hit different muscle groups.

  • Know when it is time to take a break.

Measuring Success

While many people measure their fitness and healthy living goals by number of pounds lost, this is not the only way to determine if a goal is being met. In fact, by taking note of total inches lost, energy levels and body fat percentage, dieters can get a better look at the real success they are having. Take into account all the factors that mean a healthier body to get a real look at the success that is being achieved.

New Year’s resolutions are an exciting way to start off a New Year. However, to ensure failure is avoided when it comes to fitness and healthy living, it is essential to make a plan and follow it. This will help to make sure the goals that are set can be met and that the New Year is a success, rather than just another statistic of a failed New Year’s resolution.

What are your New Year's Health Resolutions?

Do you have ambitious goals to get in shape this year? Share your goals and thoughts in the comments below.