The year is drawing to a close, and the approaching new year brings with it a clean slate which many people see as an opportunity for self-improvement. New Year resolutions are as common a tradition as giving gifts at the holidays, but the reality is that it is just as common that by February most people have given up on them.

The definition of resolution is “a firm decision to do nor not do something”, which should remind us that the process of self-improvement starts with our minds, and it is our continued attention to our thoughts throughout the change process that determines our for success.

The number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight/exercise more/get healthy, however without beginning the process with a firm plan of attack, by mindfully preparing for the changes in habits that accompany lifestyle changes, our success may be limited. So here are my 5 tips for successfully preparing for a healthier New Year:

  1.  WRITE DOWN YOUR REASONS: Set aside 15 minutes, sit down and write the reasons why you want to get healthy. Are you unhappy with your appearance? Did you have a health scare? Do you want to run your first 5K? By actually writing down your reasons, you have a sort of contract with yourself, and a way to revisit your reasons for starting when you need a reminder.

  2. SET SMART GOALS: In order to facilitate change you have to set short-term and long-term goals that make sense for you personally, and that are not too vague. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. An example is “I’d like to lose 10lbs in three months.”

  3. DO REMEMBER YOUR JOURNEY IS UNIQUE: This is a crucial tip but can be difficult especially for women because it is too easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others.. It is important to remember there is no one thing that works for everyone or a one size fits all approach. Everyone is on their own journey and change happens at different rates for different people, and that is ok!

  4. PLAN FOR SETBACKS: Life is going to happen; a child will get sick, a work project will need completing, or you may have a horrible nights sleep…the key is to anticipate setbacks and to have a plan B. When I get a bad night’s sleep, I need my energy for other things so I know a workout isn’t feasible. Instead I commit to making sure I eat healthy all day, and plan to work out the next day.

  5. BE FLEXIBLE AND FORGIVING: An all or nothing approach will ensure failure. As mentioned in tip 4, setbacks will happen, the key is to not let a lapse turn into a relapse. Use your plan B, revisit your reasons for starting, and forgive yourself because you’re only human! And remember that each day is a clean slate!

The enthusiasm we feel from a brand new year ahead is wonderful inspiration to make resolutions, and by mindfully preparing for why we want to change and how we plan to do it will greatly help in our success!  Have a happy and healthy New Year!

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