Resolution Outcome: Successful or Stumbling

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 4th February 2013

Many of us viewed the New Year as an appropriate time for making resolutions and we enthusiastically decided to “get in shape,” “declutter,” or “write the great American novel.”  Four weeks later, I imagine some are merrily rolling along on the path to success while others are floundering and unsure if they’re even on the right track.  If you’re in the successful category, congratulations and my only advice is keep up the good work!

However, if you are stumbling, it might simply be that your resolution was too vague.  If so, consider rephrasing your resolution in S.M.A.R.T. goal terms.  For our example, we will use “get in shape.”

S - Specific
Be specific.  Give some thought to what "get in shape" means to you and then state your objective clearly.  Do you want to lose weight?  Drop a size or two?  Run a 5K?   Decrease your cholesterol?     

M - Measurable
Decide how you will measure your progress so you will know when you have reached your goal.  How much weight do you want to lose and how often will you step on the scale? 

A - Adjustable
Build in adjustability by setting less ambitious short-term goals.  Although you may want to eventually lose 20 pounds, resolve to lose two pounds weekly and evaluate your goal at the end of one month.

R - Realistic
Keep your resolution within reach.  If you are having difficulties setting a realistic goal, gather information, such as learning the normal weight range for your sex, height, age, and body type.

T - Time based
Set a deadline for achieving your resolution.  For many resolutions, it is best to set short-term deadlines along with long term deadlines.  This also creates many opportunities to celebrate your successes! 

With the S. M. A. R. T. method, the initial vague resolution of “I want to get in shape” is now stated as:
“I ultimately want to lose 20 pounds in three months; however, I am setting a short-term goal of losing two pounds a week.  In one month, I will evaluate my progress and adjust my resolution, if necessary.”

Staying Motivated to Stick With Your Resolution

Most people have no problem stating a resolution—it’s the “sticking with it” part that causes trouble.   If you are having difficulties, perhaps one or more of the following hints will put you on the right track and keep you moving towards achieving long-term success.

Know your “why”
If your goal is to “get in shape” state the reasons “why” you are setting that particular goal.  Since your answers will be your personal motivation when the going gets tough, be as specific as possible.  For example, if you are exercising to lose weight, explore your reasoning so you can specify “why” it’s important that you lose weight.  Do you have some favorite clothes or outfits that no longer fit?  Are you hoping to regain more energy?  Has your physician strongly suggested that you lose weight to lower your blood pressure?  Do you want to look and feel your best for an upcoming event?  Whatever your reasons, write them down and then post the note in a prominent place as a daily reminder of why it’s important that YOU continue exercising.

Track and record your progress
Keeping a fitness ledger and/or workout journal can be an effective method of maintaining motivation.  By tracking physical factors such as weight, measurements, and bodyfat percentage, you acquire a concrete gauge of your progress.  And watching those numbers change is very reinforcing and typically inspires continued effort.  It’s also helpful to record details about your workouts such as the activity, the duration, and how you felt during and afterwards.  Reviewing this information will remind you of what was fun while shedding some light on the aspects of exercising that you find pleasurable.  Then you’ll have a better idea of what bears repeating. 

Do something every day to work towards achieving your resolution
It may sound like circular reasoning; however, it is true that you develop consistency by being consistent!  And, most stay on the wagon by never falling off completely.  To keep your body and mind in exercise mode, squeeze in some exercise each day—even when time is running short.  Taking a few minutes to walk briskly around the block or performing squats and leg lifts while brushing your teeth trains your body to expect and maybe even enjoy little bouts of activity.  Then on days when you have time for a more extensive workout, it won’t be such a jolt to your system.  Plus, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that brief segments of activity throughout the day will sometimes add up to a complete workout.

Enjoy the journey towards achieving your resolution
We all seem to find time for what we enjoy—so the trick is to keep searching and experimenting until you find an activity that doesn’t feel like “work” and one that you actually look forward to adding to your schedule.  Although the possibilities for exploration are extensive, here are some ideas to get you started: purchase a one-week pass at a nearby fitness facility and try a variety of classes; accompany your friends on their weekend walks, jogs or bike outings; rent videos such as yoga, T’ai Chi, kickboxing, or Pilates, take your family on a weekend water or snow skiing trip…the point is to investigate options.  There’s something out there for everyone and if you haven’t found an activity that engages your enthusiasm, keep looking!  Finding your workout bliss is well worth the effort and will ensure that you maintain the consistency necessary for long-term fitness success.     

Following Through on Achieving Your Resolution

You set a resolution in S.M.A.R.T. goal terms and considered ways to stay motivated through the process.  All you have to do now is follow through on your good intentions.  No sweat, right?  Not exactly; there will be effort involved; however, if you keep the following hints in mind, your journey will be a lot easier.

Put your resolution in writing:
Write your goal in your day planner, post it on your bulletin board, and place reminders at your desk, in your car and around the house.  Written words are much more powerful than thoughts or ideas and seeing your goal in print throughout the day will be a strong reminder of your pursuit.

Tell others about your resolution:
Talk about your resolution to family and friends.  If they understand its importance, they are more likely to provide support and motivation if you feel discouraged.

Find a buddy to share the journey:
If possible, team up with a buddy with the same or similar resolution.  If that’s not possible, socialize with like-minded friends.  For example, if your resolution is to exercise more, workout at a gym, register for a dance class or join a walking club.

Embrace reality:
Realize that there will be bumps in the road so you won’t quit when difficulties arise.
Do not demand perfection from yourself or allow a minor slip-up to cause you to abandon your plan.
Understand that those who are successful have stopped and restarted many times along the way.  The key word: restarted. 

Track your progress and reward success:
Track your progress and celebrate baby steps and small victories with some form of reward system.

Be consistent:
How do you spell success when making a behavior change?
Even if you’re not proceeding exactly accordingly to plan, congratulate yourself for proceeding forward in a positive direction.

Making a positive behavior change can be very satisfying and rewarding in more ways than just achieving a goal.  Keep in mind your initial reasons for wanting to make a change and also how your life will be better once the change occurs.

And remind yourself frequently that you can do this—and eventually you will!

Good luck!