6 Tactics to Make Your Fitness New Year Resolution Finally Stick
Chances are you made it through the first week. Motivation is fun and easy to come by in the beginning. I’m ready to make a change! I know I can do better! I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!
Keep These in Mind & Success is Truly Inevitable
The New Year is a powerful catalyst for personal growth and a popular time to tackle that mountain you’ve been meaning to climb. If, like many people, your mountain is to improve your health and fitness, the question becomes: How bad do you want it?
Because that first-of-the-year motivation doesn’t last forever and eventually you’ll have to make a choice—keep doing the thing, chasing your New Year’s Resolution, or stop doing the thing. It’s that simple. Keep showing up to the gym or let the time slip by on the couch. Keep packing your gym clothes or give in to “just one more email” at work. Keep giving away your power, time, and energy or take control by prioritizing your workouts.
The truth is, this is your year… if you want it to be. And if you tackle that want strategically.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
-Will Durant (not Aristotle)
It’s a simple, logical concept: change your habits in order to evolve who you are as a person. But the bad habits can be stubborn and sticky, while the good ones are often fickle and fleeting. With so many other things vying for your attention, creating new habits or ditching old ones takes intentional effort.
We’ve collected a few of the best mental tools and tactics from professional lifestyle optimizers who write entire books on how to become the person you’re meant to be. That best version of yourself is waiting to bloom from the deep-seated knowledge that you can make it happen.
Read this thing and act on it.
Make your New Year’s Resolution Stick with these 6 tips
1. choose the right habit
James Clear, author of the bestseller, Atomic Habits, says something profoundly obvious yet immensely easy to overlook when working to improve your lifestyle: “The most important decision you will make is what habit to build. Pick the right habit and progress is easy. Pick the wrong habit and life is a struggle.”
Clear offers up the idea of identity-based habits in which you focus on “who you wish to become, not what you want to achieve.” Sure, you want to lose weight and be considered a fit person. Instead of focusing on the outcome of being fitter, focus on becoming the kind of person who is fit.
What does a fit person do? They work out 5-6 days a week. They choose the fruit over the muffin. They get enough sleep and eat enough protein. You’re much more likely to stick to the habits that align with the identity you want, because “improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.”
2. aim for progress, not perfection
When you focus on the habit required to meet your New Year’s resolution instead of the outcome, it’s easier to align with the idea of “progress, not perfection.” Don’t tackle everything at once—chip away on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Improve one habit so your new identity becomes a reality in bite-sized pieces.
If you’re 30lbs overweight and never go to the gym, it’s an unrealistic expectation to think you’ll just jump into daily hour-long workouts without eventually hitting a wall. When making the choice to workout becomes overwhelming, simplify it. Get on your bike for just five minutes. After five minutes, you can choose to get off. (But more than likely, you’ll stay on for another 10.) Progress.
As Jeff Olson says in The Slight Edge, “Any time you see what looks like a breakthrough, it is always the end result of a long series of little things, done consistently over time.”
3. track. your. workouts.
Sure looks like there’s a trend here with “this seems obvious” ideas, but it’s always helpful to have someone remind you: track your dang workouts! How will you know if you’re making progress (#2) if you’re not logging your weights? How will you be able to celebrate the wins (#5) if you have no idea just how hard you’re winning??
No matter how you train, you should be logging metrics like your weights, sets, reps, times, and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). Old school composition notebooks had their era. The nostalgia for those raggedy pages is sweet, but we’ve got smarter tools now—tools that can tell you the weight you were squatting months ago without forcing you to flip through pages.
Listen, we know you know where this plug is going, but we think it’s fitting and appropriate given our desire to provide athletes with the best tools for tracking their workouts. Get the TrainHeroic app and see more awesome data on your fitness than a notebook could ever give you.
4. dont lapse more than twice
The important thing to remember on this point: if you fall off the wagon, don’t lose all hope! Letting your mind become overwhelmed by the idea of failure leads to stress and judgment and guilt. Before you know it, one lapse turns into several in a row.
That sort of resignation to inevitable failure is how people give up. Refer back to #2 for progress, not perfection. Get back on the bike the next day. Letting the days pile up where you skip workouts and make excuses just reinforces your old identity, the one you don’t want anymore.
While everyone has to deal with occasional circumstances outside their control, like illness or injury, consider what the person you want to be would do. What kinds of choices would they make to ensure their fitness identity remains a reliable constant?
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5. celebrate small wins
Once you start gaining traction on a new habit, it’s easy to let your hunger for success overshadow the gains you make along the way. For a lot of us who are driven and goal-oriented, moving on to the next thing without stopping to smell the proverbial roses can really cramp your satisfaction.
Those small wins might not seem like a lot in the moment, but remember, it’s the cumulative effect of your daily efforts that get you to your goal—30lbs lost or gained, a new PR on your deadlift, or better health markers from your doctor all took small, incremental victories to eventually happen.
Neglecting to celebrate small wins can make it feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Start Monday by writing down 3-5 gains you’ve made in the past week. Physically put a check mark next to the things you’ve completed and reflect on how it feels to take action. Over time, you’ll be able to look back on your lists with a deep appreciation of what it took to smash your goal.
6. get an accountabilibuddy
Humans were meant for connection. Studies show that habit changes are most effective when you share them with like-minded people who have similar goals in mind. You can commiserate your struggles, celebrate the wins, and encourage each other to stay the course.
Try to make a friend or two at the gym—someone you see every time you’re there and feel comfortable saying hi to. Tap into your community of fellow athletes and connect with someone who’s on your level or maybe even a little stronger. Surrounding yourself with people who already have what you want puts you in the mindset of getting there.
To you lone wolves and solo warriors, be not afraid of the fitness community! Having another person involved (even virtually) can make all the difference in your journey to be the fittest version of yourself.
Big health and lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight, but as the result of repeated positive decisions in the right direction. One choice at a time. One workout at a time. One nutritious meal at a time.
In The Slight Edge, Olson mentions that a good habit is both “easy to do and easy not to do.” It’s easy to lace up your sneakers and easy not to do. It’s easy to order the chicken and vegetables meal at a restaurant… and easy not to. Either way, the choices you make consistently will get you exactly the outcome that they support.
“Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
So, who are you becoming this year?
Lily is TrainHeroic’s Marketing Content Creator and a CF-L1 with an English background. She was a successful freelance marketer for the functional fitness industry until being scooped up by TrainHeroic. An uncommon combo of bookish, artsy word-nerd and lifelong athlete, Lily is passionately devoted to weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerial acrobatics. Find her showcasing her artist-athlete hobbies on IG @lilylectric.
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