New Year; it's the perfect time to start fresh and make positive changes. Among the most popular New Year’s Resolutions each year are those based around fitness and weight management. But they can also be some of the hardest to actually achieve, especially given harsh winter weather, and busy new year schedules.
According to estimates, less than 10% of people who set a New Year’s Resolution manage to stick to them. Indeed, so likely is it that people will fail to maintain their resolution, that STRAVA coined the name ‘Quitters’ Day’ for January 19.
So, how do you beat the odds? How can you turn 2021 into a year that you make a change for good?
Here’s 3 simple steps you can take, to make sticking to those resolutions easier than ever before…
Don’t make resolutions, form habits.
It can take as little as 18 days for a person to start forming a habit. On average, it takes 66 days for a new habit to become an automatic behaviour. Enough time to get you well past quitters’ day, and indeed the dreaded second week of February (by which time 90% of resolutioners have thrown in the towel).
The important thing, when trying to form a habit, is consistency. Try to just change one thing, and then be as consistent with that change as possible. Some things that can help with consistency are.
Set a time.
- For example, if your resolution is to cycle more, you can set yourself the goal of going for a 30- 40-minute short ride at 7 am each morning. 30 minutes is just 2% of your full day but you could burn up to 350 calories. So, if you find a time that works for you, small changes can be fitted into your routine, without causing too much disruption, but they can have a huge impact on your overall health and fitness.
- Although you don’t need to do something every single day to form a habit, it can be advisable to avoid missing 2 days in a row, as this can set back habit forming.
Enjoy what you’re doing.
- It is much easier to commit to a habit if you enjoy what you’re doing. This can be as simple as moving your hobby outdoors! How many people have an exercise bike gathering dust in the corner of a room, but find riding outdoors much more stimulating and rewarding.
Don’t go it alone.
- Having a friend, family member, or partner to go through the journey with you, makes it much more likely that you will both succeed in committing to a behaviour change. This is, in part, because you feel accountable to the other person, and because doing things you enjoy, with people you enjoy spending time with, makes it much more likely that you will continue.
- Although the lockdown makes it harder to connect with people from outside our homes, we can still head out to exercise once a day with our family, or one person from outside our home. Alternatively, there are several online platforms like Zwift where you can exercise in the virtual world, and now, countless classes and clubs that have taken to platforms such as Zoom, to keep us all motivated, connected, and active.
Goals work best when they are SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and set within a Time frame. It can be a good idea to set several goals, so that you have a focus for the short, medium, and long term.
So, rather than setting the abstract goals of ‘I want to get fitter and lose weight this year’, you could say. I want to set a short-term goal of cycling 40 miles a week by March. In the medium term, I want to be able to cycle 50 miles continually by June. Then, I want to be able to complete a cycling tour of the Danube by September (as a long term or main goal).
The most important thing is that the goals you set are clear, can be easily tracked and measured, and can realistically be achieved within the time frame set. This way being able to see consistent progress should help keep you on track and motivated.
Having your main or long-term goal as a reward can really incentivise you to commit to your habit. So, booking a bucket list event, or entering your dream race can be the perfect motivator, provided you have short- and medium-term goals to work on in the meantime.
Look forward, but also learn from the past.
While goal setting can be a great motivator and having targets and events to aim at can help keep you on track, you can also learn a lot from your past successes and failures.
Consider past successes. Events where you did better than you thought, or occasions where you managed to lose weight and keep it off. Can you identify any specific factors that might have contributed to this success? These factors might be something mentioned above, such as having support, or setting a bucket-list event as a goal, but there could also be other factors at work such as keeping a training diary or raising money for a particular charity. Also remembering past successes, and how they made you feel, can be a great motivator for success in the future.
The best way to learn from failures, I find, is to stop looking at them as failures, and start seeing them as another part of the journey. Instead of repeating the same process next time, consider what went wrong. Did you set too big a goal too soon? Do you need to break your goal into smaller challenges, or find a better way to fit things in around your day?
The most successful resolutions are the ones that slip into your daily life easily, the less of a task it feels, the more likely it is to become a habit, and habits stick.
Looking for the perfect New Years Motivation? Why not take a look at our cycling tours for late 2021? Combine a healthy, active lifestyle with the holiday of a lifetime this year, with Freewheel Holidays!